Should they stay or go?

CAPS board reconsiders policy of sending parolees away from Craig

Convicted felon John Glenn Plummer Jr. of Grand Junction has just about paid his debt to society and wants to continue living in Craig.

Plummer, 29, is a client of Correctional Alternative Placement Services, or CAPS, in Craig, and he has a little more than a month left until he is scheduled to be released on parole.

By all accounts, Plummer is a diligent worker and has kept alcohol-free and drug-free. But the decision about whether he's allowed to stay in the community isn't his to make.

Based on Plummer's case, CAPS board members are seeking an exception to a Colorado Department of Corrections policy that states CAPS clients who aren't convicted here must leave the area when they're granted parole. CAPS must accept clients from other parts of the state to make the business financially feasible.

Board members decided during their regular board meeting Wednesday to recommend to DOC that Plummer be allowed to continue living in Craig. They also decided to recommend to the parole department that cases be reviewed for similar action in the future.

"This goes against our practice of what we've done for many years," said board chairman John Ponikvar. "This is a radical change. From now on, we want to work with people on a case-by-case basis."

But the recommendation to let out-of-county CAPS clients permanently reside in Craig is up to DOC officials, board members said.

Ultimately, it's an issue of providing consistency among CAPS clients and keeping com--munity members safe, said board member Evan Herman. Herman also is the court administrator for 14th Judicial District.

"We have a responsibility to protect our community and keep it safe whether it's enforceable or not," he said. "People have the right not to live in a community filled with convicted felons."

CAPS board members originally requested that DOC require out-of-county CAPS clients to parole elsewhere.

That policy has been in place for about decade and was instigated after a couple of former CAPS clients were implicated in a series of burglaries.

Last year, the CAPS board denied a similar request from CAPS client Melinda Gowins. A former methamphetamine addict, Gowins had a job, an apartment and a circle of friends in Craig who helped her stay clean. At the time, Gowins told the Craig Daily Press that her "support system is being ripped out" from underneath her when she was required to serve parole in Grand Junction.

Law enforcement officers have had run-ins with CAPS clients. Most recently, client Lynn Horn of California racked up some felony charges, including distributing meth and carrying a dangerous weapon, while serving a sentence at CAPS in Craig.

Police found several firearms in his car after blocking off Yampa Avenue and arresting him at gunpoint. Horn eventually pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to four charges committed in Craig.

But other convicted felons don't re-offend after serving their time at CAPS. Plummer is one example, board members said Wednesday.

All nine members unanimously decided to recommend that Plummer be allowed to stay in Craig. The decision was prompted in part by a recommendation from Plummer's employer, Elwood Eisenhauer of Ike's Transmission. Board members also considered a letter from Plummer that said he didn't want to relocate to his current parole location in Grand Junction. It would put him close to the victim's family and be a painful reminder to the family of the fatal drunken-driving accident Plummer caused.

"He has done absolutely nothing but right for me," Eisenhauer said about Plummer. "He's established, he's polite. He's good with people. I'd hate to lose him. I'd really hate to lose him."

Amy Hamilton can be reached at 824-7031.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.