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May 3, 2013 8:28 PM by Andy Koen

Questions about sudden closure of Pueblo halfway house

PUEBLO - Using trash bags and cardboard boxes, around 60 men living at Pueblo's Community Corrections Services Incorporated packed up their belongings Friday morning and moved to another facility to serve out their time.

"All they did was gave them a bags and said pack up, yous are leaving," Denise Sierra said. Her son was serving a sentence CCSI and she said the suddeness of the move jarred her.

"They should tell the community what's really going on, everybody needs to know."

Former Pueblo City Councilman Al Gurule has owned CCSI for 27 years. He's turning 70 in a few weeks and told us it was time to move on. He decided not to renew his contract with the state when it expires June 30.

"I wish that we could've had a pizza party or something, you know, on the way out, but it doesn't work that way with parole officers," Gurule said.

The timing of the move is curious. Back on April 1, offender Jamie Salazar walked away from the facility.

According to the arrest warrant, witnesses told the police the 32-year old Salazar got drunk and raped and beat his girlfriend three times that day.

Deonte Smith of CCSI reported Salazar's escape and a warrant was issued. Salazar was taken into custody by corrections officers more than three weeks later.

Salazar had been serving an 8 year sentence for a domestic violence conviction in El Paso County and a 3 year sentence for a drug possession conviction from Las Animas County.

Gurule said the closing of the facility and the rape aren't connected.

"I would say that, you know, there's always security issues, you know, but there's nothing that we egregious or anything like that from my perspective," he said.

The Colorado Department of Corrections issued the following explanation regarding the CCSI closure.

Al Gurule, the owner of Community Corrections Services (CCSI), Inc has worked cooperatively with the Division of Criminal Justice within the Department of Public Safety, the Colorado Department of Corrections and Probation Service within the Judicial Department regarding the operational issues at the facility. With the operating contract set to expire June 30, it was determined that the best option for public safety and offender management was to move the residents to other community settings as soon as that can be arranged. In cooperation with Mr. Gurule and his staff at CCSI, the residents of CCSI were all moved this morning, May 3, 2013 to other community programs. CCSI is one of three community corrections programs in Pueblo. The state agencies involved were the Department of Corrections, the Colorado State Judicial Department Probation Services, and the Division of Criminal Justice.

"Community corrections is an importance piece of the criminal justice system. It provides a meaningful alternative to prison for individuals who are able to work and live in the community, but still need a higher level of supervision and accountability," said Jeanne Smith, Director Division of Criminal Justice, Department of Public Safety.

"CCSI has filed an important role for Pueblo and the rehabilitation of offenders. Mr. Gurule and his staff have been dedicated to this effort for many years."

Salazar is being held on $150,000 bond at the Pueblo County Jail. He is expected to appear in court on Monday.

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