Colorado

Feb 18, 2010 7:59 PM by Matt Stafford

D.O.C. responds to claims of forced homelessness from parolee

News First 5 learned about 175 inmates that are paroled, each month, with no where to live. These numbers are from the Department of Corrections. Continuing a News First 5 investigation, we questioned why a parolee was dropped off to live under a bridge in Colorado Springs. For D.O.C., they say it's not ideal, but it's the policy.

Life after getting out of prison last month hasn't been much easier for Scott Meacham.

"They paroled me directly underneath the bridge," Meacham says.

That's what it says on his papers, and the D.O.C. keeps an eye on him through a G.P.S. device.

"I have to stay where I'm at, no matter what happens," adds Meacham.

"He was dropped off, he did make it to the parole office," explains Kelly Messamore, Assistant Director of Parole and Community Corrections for the Department of Corrections. "Until he comes up with something a little bit more permanent, that's kind of the best scenario that they have."

When inmates are released from D.O.C. on parole, every case is different. For Meacham, he admits this isn't his first time on parole, it's his fourth. He says he isn't being given the same help he's seen before.

"It's limited, and in this economy all of those kinds of funds are limited," Messamore adds. "At what point are we no longer helping, we're just enabling problem behavior."

So this time, they're trying to let him know the way out is a job and a place to live. Those are things he's finding to be tough to get.

"It's difficult for anybody to find a job, and they (D.O.C.) know that somebody getting out of prison with a felony conviction, it's many times harder to get a job," says Meacham.

"He's right, it's much more difficult if you're on parole," Messamore agrees.

Messamore says they have plenty of parolees that make it.

Despite circumstances, Meacham sees his situation as an opportunity to get out from under the bridge and move on with his life.

"We're going to explore that with him, and want him to do that, because we don't want anybody living under a bridge," says Messamore.

In the mean time that's the plan for Scott Meacham, and others.

The D.O.C. says they try to give parolees two weeks of housing, along with other resources. However, it can get expensive. Each person costs about 150 dollars a week.

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