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Former Kan. prisons chief takes Colo. interim post

Published on -4/16/2013, 1:48 PM

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DENVER (AP) -- A retired prisons chief from Kansas was named Tuesday as an interim replacement to slain Corrections Director Tom Clements.

Roger Werholtz, who retired in 2010 as Secretary of Corrections in Kansas, was tapped by Gov. John Hickenlooper to fill in while a permanent replacement for Clements is found.

Clements was fatally shot in his suburban Denver home nearly a month ago. A Colorado parolee who removed his monitoring ankle bracelet, Evan Ebel, is the only suspect in the killing. He's also been linked to the killing of a pizza delivery man two before Clements was killed. He died after a shootout with police in north Texas.

Werholtz's top job will be reviewing Colorado's troubled parole system, which was faulted for failing to keep track of Ebel.

Ebel got out of prison four years early because of a clerical error in a rural courthouse. He slipped his ankle bracelet and violated the terms of his parole last month, but authorities didn't put out a warrant for his arrest until after the killings of Clements and pizza delivery man Nathan Leon.

The governor's office said Werholtz would also be tapped to review prison usage in Colorado, which has closed two prisons in the past two years because of a declining prison population.

"I look forward to continuing the work begun by Tom Clements," Werholtz said in a statement.

He was to begin Monday and serve through the end of July, when Colorado officials hoped to have a permanent prisons chief in place.

Werholtz started work in Kansas prisons in 1982, serving as the first director of the Wyandotte County Community Corrections Program.

As head of the Kansas department, Werholtz saw a 48 percent reduction in monthly revocation rates for offenders and a 31 percent reduction in absconder rates, the Colorado governor's office said. He also taught at the University of Kansas and led the Kansas Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

"We are fortunate to have someone of (Werholtz's) experience help us through this transition," Hickenlooper said in a statement.

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