Monthly Archives: December 2015

‘The Feel-Good Jail’


By Max R. Weller

Read the article by Shari Caudron from 5280 magazine in December of 2009, six years ago. Excerpt is copied below:

For evidence of Transition’s success, meet Timothy Stoakes, a large, affable man who looks like a young Santa Claus. Now 40 years old, Stoakes has been in and out of jail since he was 18 for what he calls nonviolent, “nonconfrontational” property crimes he committed to support a cocaine habit.

Stoakes ended up in the Transition program while awaiting sentencing on a counterfeiting charge. “Tim was showing all the signs of someone willing to change,” [Commander Bill] Black says, “and we thought Transition would have a positive impact on his future sentencing.”

Which is exactly what happened. Like numerous inmates in the program, Stoakes has prepared an extensive profile to demonstrate to judges and lawyers his accomplishments while in Transition, and his goals upon release. The moving document contains 15 pages of handwritten text, along with letters of support and certificates for some of the courses Stoakes has completed. It shows that in the span of about 10 months he finished 74 classes worth more than 1,000 hours. During that time, Stoakes, an aspiring writer, authored five essays, 11 short stories (three of which were entered in writing contests), and the drafts of three novels. He also mentored another inmate toward the completion of his General Equivalency Diploma; taught classes to other inmates on self-esteem, writing, and racial acceptance; and is working on an inspirational book about what he’s learned from his Transition process.

Although Stoakes was originally sentenced to six years in a state correctional facility, his Transition profile, along with testimony from Black and other jail officials, compelled the assistant district attorney to ask the judge for a reconsideration hearing in just 120 days. “I’ve rarely seen this happen,” Black says. “Had Tim not been in Transition and changed the way he did, the assistant DA never would have made a recommendation like that.”

Stoakes could turn out to be the sort of model inmate who could bolster the argument for expanding Transition-type programs. But could Transition work in communities that lack Boulder’s “I’m OK, You’re OK” vibe? It’s difficult to say. Similar programs are having a noticeable effect in jails in El Paso and Denver counties, but Black says the range of programming in Boulder is unique, largely because of the extensive support the jail receives from the local community. He doesn’t mean financial support; Boulder County Jail doesn’t have any more funds than any other cash-strapped facility. He’s talking about residents who are willing to donate time and expertise to courses that literally couldn’t exist without them. “The most precious thing you can ask is for a person to donate their time,” he says, “and we are blessed with that here.”

End of excerpt.

In fact, Timothy Stoakes has turned out to be the sort of guy who was involved in yet another crime this morning; see Boulder sheriff: Shoplifting suspect arrested after crashing car, attempting home break-in from the Times-Call.

Boulder County sheriff’s deputies take shoplifting suspect Timothy Stoakes into custody Wednesday morning after being apprehended in the Heatherwood

Boulder County sheriff’s deputies take shoplifting suspect Timothy Stoakes into custody Wednesday morning after being apprehended in the Heatherwood subdivision of Gunbarrel. (Kira Horvath / Staff Photographer)

What a waste of time and effort in a failed rehabilitation of this career criminal. One thing I’m sure of is that nobody in authority here inside the Boulder Bubble will want to be held accountable for Mr. Stoakes’ relapse into lawlessness.

And it’s entirely possible that I did see this character at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, as I seem to recall . . .

Addendum 12/31/2015: See Timothy Stoakes LinkedIn profile; he’s a scam artist with his own foundation!

Make your tax-deductible donation by 12/31/2015!


Help support transients from Denver and elsewhere, like these warm and fuzzy guys at the Horseshoe along Boulder Creek Path, by writing a check to Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, Bridge House, or Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow and mailing it by midnight tomorrow (12/31/2015).*


*I’m kidding, of course. It would be a different matter if local nonprofits actually gave these bums bus tickets on RTD back to Denver . . .

Give credit where it’s due:


Reminds me of my first year of camping outside in the neighborhood of BSH; I equipped myself with several warm comforters which other homeless people had used only once or twice and then thrown away in ditches or empty fields. Not that it’s any better to keep these blankets INSIDE the emergency overnight dorms, because they’d soon be crawling with bedbugs! It’s good to donate blankets and comforters — please don’t misunderstand the moral of this story — but you must realize that a few of those you try to help are just ungrateful and selfish yahoos. 


Get help here:


By Max R. Weller

Resources for the homeless in Boulder, CO

Boulder Shelter for the Homeless website

Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow on Facebook

And permit me to dream for a moment; maybe, one of these years, Boulder’s shelter/services industry will put aside the Big Money projects that benefit only a relatively few homeless people on our streets, and borrow a page from the playbook of OM Build in Madison, WI:


At just $5,000 each — raised from private sources — Tiny Houses could provide homes to ALL of the homeless single adults in Boulder County, CO