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September 27, 2009
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Impact from early prisoner release on Rifle Correctional Center unclear

RIFLE, Colorado - It's unclear how the Rifle Correctional Center will be effected under a plan Gov. Bill Ritter announced in August to release about 3,500 prisoners in the state to help offset the large shortfall in the state's budget.

The release would only be granted to minimum security prisoners who are within 180 days from being released anyway, according to Katherine Sanguinetti, spokesperson for the Department of Corrections. The early release would allow the state a savings of $19 million this fiscal year and about $25 million in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, Sanguinetti said.

"These will be minimum security prisoners who are generally close to their release date, she said. "It will all be up to the discretion of the parole board."

The Rifle Correctional Center, located eight miles north of Rifle, is a 192-bed minimum security facility. But whether any of their prisoners will be released under Ritter's plan is unknown at this time.

"We've not seen the list yet," said David Scherbarth, associate warden at RCC. "We don't know."

At the last parole board hearing, only two RCC prisoners were up for parole.

If any prisoners are released, the city isn't sure what affect it would have on Rifle.

"We don't know what it would mean," said Mike Braaten, government affairs coordinator for the city.

Under the plan, more serious offenders such as murderers, kidnappers, rapists, pedophiles, sex offenders and habitually violent criminals would not be eligible for the early release.

The release of the prisoners was originally scheduled for Sept. 1, but the date has reportedly been pushed back several weeks due to delays in setting up the program.

The early-released prisoners will remain on parole until their regularly scheduled release date and those who are paroled within two months of their regular release date will be eligible for enhanced services such as mental health, job services and education, and substance abuse counseling, Sanguinetti said.

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The Post Independent Updated Sep 27, 2009 12:04AM Published Sep 27, 2009 12:03AM Copyright 2009 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.