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March 22, 2013

A moving memorial to Colorado prison chief Tom Clements from the Vera Institute of Justice

As reported in this new article, headlined "Colorado Parolee Killed in Texas Chase Likely Guilty of Slaying Prisons Chief," it looks like the person responsible for the murder of head of the Colorado prison system earlier this week may have already faced the ultimate punishment for the crime. But that reality does little to make up for the senseless loss; this new item posted at the Vera Institute of Justice blog, headed "In Memoriam: Tom Clements, Vera partner and friend," provides a sense of how great a loss this is. Here are excerpts:

The Vera Institute of Justice mourns the loss of Tom Clements, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, who was shot and killed at his home on March 19, 2013. The Vera family is shocked and saddened at this tragic news, and our hearts go out to Director Clements' family, friends, and colleagues. Many of us had the opportunity to work with Tom—some of us for many years. Most recently, he was a key leader and partner in Vera's European-American Prison Project, an initiative funded by the Prison Law Office which aims to advance an international dialogue around what works in corrections and stimulate reform efforts in the United States. Just last month, as part of this project, several Vera staff members had the privilege of spending a week travelling with Tom and the Colorado delegation, along with our other partners in the project, to tour prisons in Germany and the Netherlands.

"We are heartbroken by this news," said Michael Jacobson, president and director of Vera, who was on the European trip last month. "Tom was a thoughtful and dynamic leader, not only of his agency but as an important and influential national voice in the field of corrections. In addition, he was simply a lovely, warm, generous and thoughtful man."

Director Clements is deservedly recognized for his openness to smart and efficient corrections reform, which he brought to Colorado, where he came to help transform its system. Clearly, he was a great asset to the state. In just two years, he made significant progress in reducing the use of segregation, improving reentry, working with challenging populations such as gang members, and tackling the needs of the mentally ill and elderly incarcerated persons. After the trip to Europe, Tom and his team were eager to start planning and implementing ways to better prepare offenders to reenter the community, for instance with a mother-child unit and strategies to encourage inmate savings.

Most importantly, Tom was a deeply kind and thoughtful person whom we were fortunate to have had the opportunity to know. He will be deeply missed. According to Peggy McGarry, who directs Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections, "Tom Clements was exactly the kind of gentle, kind, and good person who you want in charge of prisons. He only wanted what was best for those in his care—with no desire to control or hurt anyone. His smile was warm and reassuring, his intelligence quick and apparent. It is beyond comprehension that anyone would want to hurt this good man."

[In this post], we share some of the thoughts and remembrances of our colleagues who worked with Tom on the European-American Prison Project. We will add to this list as other colleagues contribute to it.

March 22, 2013 at 05:59 PM | Permalink


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Yet another episode of the Lawyer Twilight Zone.

Corrections leader wants to try kindness toward prisoners. He is repaid with a murder by ultra-violent, busy, repeat offender protected by the lawyer traitor from being executed at the earliest age possible. Kindness was shown to the murderer in referring him to a halfway house instead of shooting him in the head at 14. We do not know how many the criminal had killed. The know nothing lawyer traitor does not care.

Why? To generate a few lousy, worthless, government make work jobs.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 23, 2013 5:03:16 AM

'Scumbag gets only death penalty allowed by liberal law'
Thank God
Good work TX law enforcement.

No appeals, no innocence/fair trial initiatives, pardon, celebrity t-shirt, papal intervention, vigils. No IQ testing, racial prejudice,.or childhood abuse.
Was the monster fleeing to Mexico?
(that pinnacle of justice which has so morally abolished capital punishment.)

Mourn Tom Clements.

Posted by: Adamakis | Mar 23, 2013 11:34:54 AM

Why are hangman-friends so nasty about the deterrent effect of the death penalty?
Why are them so ravenous about such a silly thing?
Because deterrence is a respectable justification for something unjustifiable.
“Capital punishment is without justification. It is ineffective as a deterrent and morally repugnant” But hangman-friends cannot say they are blood thirsty: they love respectability for their legal lynch.

Posted by: claudio giusti | Mar 23, 2013 11:59:20 AM

Not that one would need to do so, but speaking in defence of myself: I have no bloodlust.

If I thought that prison were meet justice for murder, as for theft, I would not advocate for death sentences for such brutality.

With my family & personal experiences with corrections, I am also positive that no level of incarceration is an effective deterrent to murder.

From Nazis at Nuremberg to McVeigh at Terre Haute, in concert with FDR & Ed Koch, and Abigail Adams & Margaret Thatcher, I decidedly--not ravenously--hold to the rectitude of capital punishment for murder.

Convince me otherwise, fratello. Or are you only the murderer's friend?

Posted by: Adamakis | Mar 23, 2013 1:09:00 PM

this year you will kill 40-50 murderers. why do you will NOT kill the 4-5.000 who deserve it? because you cannot face your own laws.

Posted by: claudio giusti | Mar 23, 2013 1:21:01 PM

Many more do deserve it. Now that we agree,
shall we join forces to ensure the better issuance
of justice? I cannot "face" down the laws alone!

We''ll probably need to start by eliminating irrelevant
appeals unrelated to guilt. You tell me how to next proceed,

Posted by: Adamakis | Mar 23, 2013 4:08:43 PM

Adamakis needs a psychiatric help.

Posted by: claudio giusti | Mar 23, 2013 4:11:53 PM

We don't execute 4,000-5,000 because the law requires that those executed first be arrested, convicted of aggravated murder, be sentenced to death in a separate hearing and given a full round of appeals. This narrows down the number significantly. Subtract from that the number who commit murder in states with no death penalty.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Mar 23, 2013 4:56:28 PM

Adamakis and MikeinCT --

There is no use trying to talk to claudio. The guy is less open to actual thought than virtually any commenter. In a post about tributes to a corrections official gunned down by some bloodthirsty hoodlum, claudio says not one word about the official, the tributes or the killer, and devotes himself exclusively to insulting people who disagree with him.

Of course no abolitionist rebukes him either for being off topic or for being ad hominem. They know he does their dirtywork for them, so they can take the (relatively) high road.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 23, 2013 5:46:17 PM

poor little otis
His hero is a terrorist from cuba!

Posted by: claudio giusti | Mar 23, 2013 5:58:14 PM

@Bill Otis
I think most of the anti's know it's a waste of time, sort of like trying to talk sense into rodsmith.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Mar 23, 2013 8:43:10 PM

Italy has a very busy death penalty going. Claudio has nothing to say about the busy death penalty for brave inquisitorial judges and prosecutors by the Mafia. I demand that Claudio openly condemn those executions.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 24, 2013 3:05:54 AM

Suppie, you are an idiot !

Posted by: claudio giusti | Mar 24, 2013 4:58:19 AM

“ The least controversial observation one can make about American criminal justice today is that it is remarkably ineffective, absurdly expensive, grossly inhumane, and riddled with discrimination.” The Crime of Punishment, By David J. Rothman, The New York Review of Books 17 Feb 1994

Posted by: claudio giusti | Mar 24, 2013 5:01:34 AM

Claudio refuses to condemn Mafia killings of brave judges and prosecutors. This is morally disgusting.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 24, 2013 7:53:20 AM

suppie, you are a Dangerous idiot!

Posted by: claudio giusti | Mar 24, 2013 8:25:41 AM

Claudio: In our intellectual culture, especially lawyer intellectual culture, personal remarks are the same as knocking down your King in a hopeless position in a chess match and conceding intellectual defeat. You do that a lot. I thought you should know how it is interpreted in our country.

In a trial, it is legal malpractice because it ends the case by surrender. The judge will admonish the lawyer making personal remarks. The jury who has no idea what is going on will take that as a signal of judge preference for one side, and decide in the same direction, against the side with the lawyer making personal remarks. Case over. Losing this way is lawyer malpractice.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 24, 2013 8:57:38 AM

Does someone read the things I read?
Liptak, Greenhouse, Bazelon, Lithwick, Amar, Posner, Friedman, Dow, Bach, Davies, Alexander ?
WSJ’s Mens Rea, One Nation Under Arrest, Three Felonies a Day, The Collapse of the American Criminal Justice, are these titles known?
Since Borchard, Bedau, Gross, Garrett, everybody knows innocent persons are executed.
But not poor little Otis (say nothing about crazy Suppie)
Since Robert Rantoul everybody knows the death penalty is NOT a deterrent,
but little poor Otis doesn’t read Fagan http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/FaganDeterrence.pdf
nor Donohue http://www.stanfordlawreview.org/print/article/uses-and-abuses-empirical-evidence-death-penalty-debate not even Nagin http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13363
He believes like super-hangman-friend Lott “The 12 states without the death penalty have long enjoyed relatively low murder rates due to factors unrelated to capital punishment.”

Posted by: claudio giusti | Mar 24, 2013 9:33:55 AM

There are those who believe that reading articles that disagree with you, and not just the ones that sing your song, contributes to an open-minded discussion.

And there are others that believe no such thing, not being interested either in open-mindedness or anything a normal person would call a "discussion."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 24, 2013 11:31:30 AM

discussion? What a chutzpa!
If I say I’m against the death penalty, I’m a friend of killers.
If I want CIA killers in prison, I am a dangerous communist.
If I say there are innocents in prison and death row, I am a fool, ‘cos American justice is never wrong.
I hate torture and you justify it.
I am afraid we (say nothing about deranged Suppie) cannot have a discussion about anything.

Posted by: claudio giusti | Mar 24, 2013 3:05:59 PM

Claudio: 5,000 traffic death in Italy. Close all the roads until the problem of the error rate in traffic has been solved. Say there are 50 wrongful executions a year in the US, your traffic wrongful execution rate is 500 times worse. Yet, not a word from you about this butchery on the road.

In the US, the 50 are falsely put to death with rapid, quiet poison. In Italy, the 5000 are executed by horrible mangling, crushing, tearing of the flesh, with victims taking hours to die in agony. Very disturbing.

What you are is hypocrite who does not even realize, your goal is not humanitarian goal of coddling vicious murderers, but rather of generating worthless, government make work jobs. You are not even a Commie, who believed in executions, but by the millions of people, shot for saying a joke, or for any gentle criticism of the government.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 24, 2013 3:31:21 PM

in USA 30-40.000 traffic death 30.000 Death by shooting 15,000 criminal homicides. In Italy 500 homicides per year.
I passed the best years of my life working for soviet dissident.
When I say you are out of order it is not an insult, it's a fact.

Posted by: claudio giusti | Mar 24, 2013 3:49:38 PM

cllaudio --

"If I want CIA killers in prison, I am a dangerous communist."

Oh contraire, claudio. Dangerous is one thing I'm sure you're NOT.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 24, 2013 5:23:33 PM

Claudio: Italy has a death penalty inside prison, as well as of brave judges and prosecutors by the Mafia.

You relabel it, suicide. It is mysteriously 10 times more frequent than in the general population. Or perhaps, the guards help these along.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 24, 2013 8:33:25 PM

I'm at the Bologna children book fair. I'll cook you next week

Posted by: claudio giusti | Mar 25, 2013 3:27:28 PM


Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 26, 2013 9:31:56 AM

SC --

Don't descend to his level. One of your more appealing characteristics is that you avoid all the ad hominem stuff.

It's already obvious to any fair-minded person what's going on with claudio. And it doesn't make any difference what the non-fair minded think.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 26, 2013 10:23:29 AM

Cotti in aglio, olio e peperoncino.

Posted by: claudio giusti | Mar 26, 2013 2:44:41 PM

Mikein i'll have you know there are any number of things Bill and i agree on.

Hell i even agree with you on things!

like this

"We''ll probably need to start by eliminating irrelevant
appeals unrelated to guilt."

Personally i think that after say 2 apellate reviews. Anything after that should be for ACTUAL INNOCENCE ONLY!

those appeals i think should go through at any time.

Tehnical violation appeals should be limited to 1 appeal or 5 years.

Other appeals not related to innocence should be 2 appeals or 8 years.

After that at the 10 year mark if no actual innocence appeals or any other appeals are in process an Execution date should be set automatically to happen within 90 days. After that is set only NEW UNCOVERED evidence of innocence can stop the clock!

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 26, 2013 11:50:31 PM

Bill is right. I have to apologize to Claudio. Nevertheless, Claudio believes in the cannibalism of his debating opponents but not in the death penalty for vicious predators that repeatedly will kill.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 27, 2013 7:11:08 AM

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