Colorado

Mar 15, 2014 7:41 PM by Tony Spehar

Slain Colorado prisons director honored at memorial ceremony in Cañon City

Nearly one-year after Colorado Department of Corrections Executive Director Tom Clements was murdered, his family and DOC officers honored his memory at a memorial service for fallen officers in Cañon City on Saturday.

Investigators believe Clements was gunned down in his Monument home by disgruntled former inmate Evan Ebel on March 19, 2013. His widow Lisa Clements spoke at the memorial service, thanking members of the Department of Corrections and the state government for helping her family recover from the tragedy and celebrate Clements' life.

"When I think back about the past year and the experiences that we've shared they've covered a lot of terrain," Lisa Clements said. "Much has been related to Tom's death, but much has been related to life."

It was a somber day for those who knew and worked with Clements, many remembered him as a strong leader who cared for all DOC staff members.

"All of you here know what an amazing correctional leader he was, a friend and a loved one for his family," described DOC Deputy Executive Director Kellie Wasko. "I've struggled many times in realizing that he's gone."

Despite the fact the Clements was killed by a former inmate he was remembered as a reformer who looked to change the system to help inmates change their lives and be ready for the outside world.

"He was a great believer in redemption and that any person could re-create their lives," explained Gov. John Hickenlooper, who hired Clements to head the DOC.

Executive Director Rick Raemisch, who replaced Clements as head of the DOC, said his predecessor made many changes that have enhanced the quality of Colorado prisons. Raemisch said his goal was to continue Clements' vision, last month Raemisch made national headlines by pledging to try and reduce the amount of time inmates spend in "administrative segregation" or solitary confinement.

"That people can change and can become productive members of a community, he truly believed that," Raemisch said of Clements. "Those of us in these positions, if we don't also believe that we don't have any business being here."

At Saturday's ceremony Clements' name was officially added to the Department of Corrections Fallen Officer Memorial in front of the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility. Rick Raemisch also announced that the DOC is creating a yearly award in Clements' name that will be given to corrections officers who go above and beyond to help inmates reform and prepare for life outside of prison.

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