DENVER -- Eight of nine sex offenders who were turned loose in the weeks between a state Supreme Court ruling on parole guidelines and the court's agreement to reconsider were taken back into custody on Sunday.
"The ninth parolee is believed to be out of state, and officers are working with officials there," said Alison Morgan, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections. She declined to provide further details.
Morgan said parole officers and local law enforcement had no difficulty taking the eight men into custody on Sunday. All of those released had been jailed for parole violations.
The confusion began when the state Supreme Court ruled on Sept. 18 that a 1993 law adding five-year paroles to felony convictions could not be applied to sex crimes.
The court said a 1979 law limits parole for sex crimes to no more than the original sentence, therefore sentences of less than five years could not have a five-year parole attached. Any sex offenders in prison for violating such a parole must be released, the court said.
Attorney General Ken Salazar asked the court to reconsider, and on Friday, the court stayed its earlier ruling and ordered a new hearing. The stay gave corrections officers the authority to put the nine men who already had been released back behind bars.
No date was set for the new hearing.
If the court's ruling stands, it could free 112 sex offenders in prison for parole violations and release an additional 170 offenders from parole supervision and mandatory therapy, Corrections Department Director John Suthers said. Six hundred other offenders could be released from prison without parole once they complete their sentences.
The release of the nine sex offenders had left victims of sex crimes in the state outraged and fearful.
"You live in a state of fear that either your attacker or someone else will victimize you, and to know that more of them are out on the street today, it's scary," said Marianne Mayer, a rape victim from Denver. "It upset me enough that I was close to tears."
On the Net:
Colorado Department of Corrections: http://www.doc.state.co.us
Rape Assistance and Awareness Program: http://www.raap.org
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