COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Colorado Department of Corrections says it stands by its policy that allowed a parolee who's now accused of double murder to be released 115 days early from prison.
Evan Ebel, 28, is accused of murdering Colorado's prison chief Tom Clements and Denver pizza delivery driver Nathan Leon.
Ebel was an often violent prisoner during his almost eight years behind bars, with records showing he hit a staff member in the face, threatened to kill a guard, smeared feces on the walls and got into fights. He was written up 28 times and spent much of his time in solitary confinement, also known as administrated segregation.
DOC spokesperson Alison Morgan says from 2005-2010, Ebel earned only a total of 25 days off of his sentence. But in 2011, the DOC changed a policy that prohibited offenders in solitary confinement from earning time off. That allowed Ebel to earn about 40 days he would not have been eligible for before, according to Morgan.
"Every day, it's our obligation and duty to give (inmates) the opportunity to change and not give up," Morgan said.
She said despite Ebel's setbacks, he did show progress. He was a part of a cognitive behavioral program called "Thinking For a Change," and completed a pre-release program Morgan said is a "critical program to complete."
"Can we look back on this as a Monday morning quarterback? What good would that do?" Morgan asked.
She went on to say that there are no plans to change the way prisoners earn time off their sentences in Colorado.
"Opportunity and incentive to change--that is the foundation of what Tom Clements believed," Morgan said. "When there is negative behavior, there's a consequence to the negative behavior. You have to recognize and reinforce that positive behavior. Earned time is an excellent way of doing that, especially with offenders you want to progress out of an (administrated segregation) environment."
Morgan said, generally, offenders can earn up to 10 days off their sentence for every 30 days served. The DOC decides exactly how many days are earned by looking at things like program compliance, behavior and progression through the system.
She said when a prisoner is in solitary confinement, there are different levels that person must advance through and can only start earning time off at Level 3.
Ebel was serving time for crimes including robbery, menacing, assault and assaulting a corrections officer. A pre-release report shows the DOC believed he had a high risk to re-offend. Ebel was shot after a chase with police in Texas. He shot and wounded a deputy before he was eventually killed by officers.