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Gazette Premium Content Text of Timothy Shull’s letter criticizing Sheriff Terry Maketa

Staff reports Updated: May 4, 2005 at 12:00 am
Timothy J. Shull PO Box #494 Colorado Springs, CO. 80901 April 30, 2005 To: The El Paso County Republican Officials The El Paso County Democrat Officials The Gazette The Independent The Denver Post The people of El Paso County need to know the truth about the jail crowding problem and the truth about their elected sheriff.
The sheriff now wants to release prisoners on their promise to appear to ease the jail-crowding crisis. This is a travesty at worst and a bad joke at best. Hopefully, he is not truly serious about this idea. The sheriff states that these inmates are innocent until proven guilty and do not necessarily belong in jail. I believe the sheriff needs to go back to school about this issue. It is not the sheriff’s job to determine guilt or innocence. It is his statutory obligation to run a jail and accept lawfully detained individuals. Jails are not for punishment – Prisons are for punishment. The first reason Jails exist is to place an arrestee into custody to insure that person gets to court. The second reason Jails exist is for short-term sentences usually used by county judges for detainees that continually violate misdemeanor laws and court orders. In the state of Colorado a person can not be sentenced to a county jail for more than two years. A bond schedule for each crime is set by the District Court and with very few exceptions every detainee has a bond amount set. The concept of bond was developed to guarantee the detainee’s appearance in court. The inmate must pay money to a bondsman to get out of jail. This insures the inmate has some type of personal stake in the situation. We would not be in this problem if Maketa had not declared the Metro jail to be condemned/uninhabitable. I retired from the Sheriff’s Office in November of 2003, at the rank of Bureau Chief, after giving 24 ½ years of blood, sweat and tears to the office. I loved that Office and the people I worked with. I supported Maketa in the campaign (was the first one to donate to his campaign) and it was one of the worst decisions I made in my life. I left the Sheriff’s Office because the Sheriff and Undersheriff put their politics and personal insecurities in front of the real problems we were facing. I could no longer continue giving 12 and 16 - hour days trying to fix problems and deal with Maketa’s politics and his Undersheriff’s, insecurities at the same time. Would I consider myself somewhat of a disgruntled former employee? Yep, probably so, but that does not diminish any of what follows. As many of you may recall I was deeply involved in the planning and design of the new 864 - bed jail tower that just opened up at CJC in March 2005. We chose a design that is probably one of the most staff efficient and cost effective in the country. I gave close to a hundred presentations to groups such as Sertoma, Masons, Elks, Knights of Columbus, the Republican party, the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, etc. I was told by Maketa to make sure the citizens were told that this new jail addition would take care of our jail needs until at least 2015. The plan, all along, was to keep the Metro Jail open, as it is a maximum-security facility (where the real bad guys are assigned). The new tower at CJC was to be constructed as a minimum/medium facility (where the not so bad guys are assigned). There were no plans to make any maximum security considerations in the new tower because Metro was to remain open. In 2001 the Metro Facility was audited and examined by the American Correctional Association. While the audit showed there were some facility plant issues that needed to be addressed it also noted that it was one of the cleanest, best-maintained, facilities the audit team had seen. The facility received annual visits from the County Health Inspector, City Fire department etc. The inspections were all successful. My question is this; how can a facility go from passing several incredibly difficult audits and inspections by professional correctional auditors, health inspectors and fire department inspectors to being condemned and uninhabitable in a few short years? Don’t take my word for it, check out the audit and inspection reports. Visit the Metro jail facility and see for yourself if the conditions are as bad as Maketa cites. The Metro facility was constructed in 1973 and 1974. How many of us live and work in buildings as old or older than that? You know as well as I do that you make the necessary repairs and updates and you continue on. What you don’t do is come up with naïve “let’s let them all out of jail” idea and continue to ask the taxpayers for more money to build additional facilities. Interestingly, Maketa has decided to let the American Correctional Association (ACA) accreditation of the facilities lapse. Yet another example of a terrible decision by a naïve and inexperienced sheriff. In late 2004, Maketa made the decision to close the Metro facility due to it being uninhabitable and basically condemned (brings a whole new meaning to “throwing the baby out with the bath water”). This decision was made even though the new court addition was designed to attach to the Metro jail. The architectural drawing were already completed. Despite the alleged dangerous, uninhabitable conditions at Metro, the sheriff continued to keep inmates in the Metro Jail until April 2005 (6 months of unnecessary liability). If the building was condemned, uninhabitable and so dangerous, why in the world would the sheriff let his staff and inmates continue to work and live in such terrible conditions (It seems like a personal injury lawyer’s dream to me). He then moved all the Metro (maximum-security) inmates to CJC where there is little in the way of maximum-security capability. Certainly the new jail tower has no maximum-security facility capability. The bizarre thing is the sheriff will continue to use the first floor, basement, sub-basement and tunnel areas of the same Metro facility (built in 1973 and condemned in 2004) to transport and temporarily hold inmates going to court. Additionally the first floor will house office support staff. He is still placing his staff and inmates in terrible danger because they have to traverse this supposed condemned and uninhabitable building. The folks in this county need to be made aware of the truth about this supposed jail crisis. It certainly did not have to be this way. The sheriff made the decision to close Metro and now all those inmates are at CJC. I know Maketa and how he thinks. He has made this decision to advance his grand scheme to get his headquarters building, sub-stations and now an additional jail tower at CJC. The staffing has always been at the bare bones level when it comes to the jail, which was Maketa’s decision. He always related that staffing in the jail was too high. He needed to support his pet projects (horse patrols and motorcycle cops, and traffic units’ etc.) none of which, are statutorily obligated like the jail is. It has been reported to me that he has one deputy watching two housing units in the new tower (well over 100 inmates). Tell me the seriousness Maketa places in his staff or inmates safety? Those deputies and civilian staff work in very dangerous conditions and it has now become worse due to a bureaucratic and political decision from the sheriff. Just ask any deputy who works in the jail how safe they feel when they are on duty working in the jail. Ask any deputy working in the jail if they would rather transfer to another position? Again, don’t take my word for it; ask the jail personnel. If they won’t talk to you it’s because they are afraid of reprisals, threats and intimidation from the upper echelon of the Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s grand idea to release the non-violent inmates on their promise to appear is nothing new. There is a personal recognizance program in place that has been around for years. Inmates released on PR bonds violate the conditions and don’t show up for court all the time, just as they won’t show up for court if Maketa starts his new “let ‘em go” program. There are probably 50 or more bondsman in the area that bond out an incredible amount of inmates. With the bondsman at least there is some money the inmate must pay out in order to guarantee his appearance in court. With all the defendants now on the loose for failure to appear in court brings another problem to the forefront; there is no fugitive unit, as there used to be, to chase these defendants down and get them back in custody so they can answer for their charges in court. The sheriff disbanded that unit so other pet projects could be staffed. Again, don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself. There are thousands and thousands of active warrants on the shelf that are not being worked because of Maketa’s decisions. Additionally, you all need to know that Maketa’s grand plan all along is to get a new sheriffs headquarters building, new sub-stations and now an additional jail addition. How in the world are we (taxpayers) going to pay for all that? There truly needs to be an investigation into the official misconduct and terrible decisions made by Maketa. Maketa is a RINO (Republican in name only). The Republican Party and the people of El Paso County must insist there be a change in the Office of the Sheriff in 2006. We can ill-afford (monetarily and philosophically) to keep this guy around for another four years. In all actuality there needs to be a recall as soon as possible. I’m not sure we can afford to wait until 2006. Sincerely, Timothy J. Shull El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Bureau Chief (Retired - 2003) Life-long Republican
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