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May 14, 2013 10:02 PM by Andy Koen

Halfway house director answers questions about overdose death

PUEBLO - The state agency that oversees halfway houses believes managers at Pueblo's Minnequa Community Corrections followed all the proper procedures after an offender in their custody died 18 months ago of a drug overdose.

Adam Beauchamp, 27, took a lethal amount of Fentanyl back on November 20, 2011 while serving time for drug conviction. A staff member at MCC told the police that they had seen him alive and in his bed at 9:15 p.m. that night. He was found dead the next morning at 10:15 a.m. by another staff member who was making rounds.

Director Michael Holland says his staff are required to take random head counts at least 12 times a day (four times per shift.) Each time they passed Beauchamp's room that night, Holland says he appeared to be sleeping.

However, Beauchamp's mother, Cheryl Collins, can't believe her son could overdosed without anyone at the facility noticing.

"He shouldn't have done it, taken the drugs, I know that was illegal for him to do," Collins said. "but it didn't have to happen."

She shared an internal report with us in which offenders told case workers Beauchamp got the drugs from a dealer inside the facility. They also reported seeing Beauchamp stumble around in an obvious state of intoxication.

"What are you trying to do, Michael Jackson him to death?" one of them said to the suspected dealer.

Holland said none of his staff witnessed Adam acting that way.

"They often try and straighten up when staff are around," he explained. "I was not notified of any strange behavior by him."

State auditors with the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice red-flagged Minnequa in 2010 as security risk. In fact, Holland had been hired as director just two weeks before Beauchamp's death to help reform the place.

When we asked him about the apparent ease of access to illegal drugs, he replied, "We can't strip-search every client every time they come in."

"We are meeting or exceeding the standards in this area and it's a priority," Holland added.

In fact, a follow up audit conducted by the DCJ one month prior to Beauchamp's death found the facility was in full compliance with state standards for drug screenings and substance abuse treatment. Furthermore, investigations by both the Pueblo Police Department and 10th Judicial District Attorney's Office have not yet found enough evidence to prosecute the suspected dealer or dealers.

However, the same DCJ follow up audit also found Minnequa could have done a better job keeping track of their inmates when they left the facility. It lists MCC as only being partially compliant with those state standards.

On May 1, an offender named Matthew Lee Boyd, 36, escaped from the facility while he was supposed to be looking for a job. He was taken back into custody on May 7 by deputies with the Fremont County Sheriff's Office who found a knife in his pocket and reported that he fought with them during the arrest.

Boyd's escape happened a day before the parole board relocated some 60 inmates from the now closed Community Corrections Services Incorporated (CCSI.) The most recent DCJ Risk Assessment lists Pueblo's two remaining halfway houses (Minnequa and Crossroads Turning Points) as the highest risk facilities for escape in the state.

County Commissioner Terry Hart says the decline shouldn't come as a surprise. Until recently, Hart says there has been limited local oversight of the facilities.

"In the old days I know that the county relied to a large degree on the state to help with that because the state had much greater resources than the county did," he said.

The county currently has two full time employees assigned to monitoring the community's halfway houses. Hart and his fellow commissioners also plan to bring back a public oversight panel that dissolved 15 years ago.

"We would like to make sure that all of our facilities are scored highest in the state as far as quality of service is delivered and make sure that we have that highest level of protection for our community."

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