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May 15, 2013

"Colorado corrections alerting judges of hundreds of sentencing flaws"

The title of this post is the headline of this Denver Post article, which gets started this way:

Corrections officials are alerting judges throughout Colorado that errors appear to have resulted in early, improper release dates from prison for hundreds of prisoners they sentenced.

The judges are reviewing the case files so they can decide which of those already released from incarceration should be returned to prison to serve out the longer sentences required by state law. Other cases involve prisoners who are on the verge of release who may now see their sentences extended.

These are the early results of an audit still underway by the Colorado Department of Corrections.  Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered the department to conduct the audit after it was disclosed that a parolee believed to have murdered corrections chief Tom Clements was released from prison early because of a clerical error.

The audit, so far, has found "serious questions" in the sentences of 349 individuals either already released from prison or scheduled for release, corrections officials said.  Of those, judges have amended sentences in 56 cases.

The errors occurred for a variety of reasons.  In some cases, judicial clerks may have given incorrect sentences to the corrections department.  In others, corrections officials may have interpreted sentences incorrectly.  A full breakdown is not yet available on how the errors occurred.

The audit still is in the preliminary stages and is not expected to be finished until July. The state has identified 8,415 individuals whose sentences need reviews, with at least 2,500 warranting a more intensive look.  About a fifth of the intensive reviews have been completed. If the current error rate continues, "serious" sentencing flaws could be detected in the cases of more than 1,000 individuals.

I guess this story brings new meaning to the label "Department of Corrections."

May 15, 2013 at 06:59 PM | Permalink

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Comments

;; :: "The errors occurred for a variety of reasons. ;; ::

Perchance there were graduates of Prof. Josh Silverstein afoot.

 “Law Professor Wants To Do Away With Most C's Because They Make Students Feel Bad”
 “To fix this problem, Silverstein wants to make everyone equal under a broken grading system, rather than fix grades at schools that inflate them.”

Read more: businessinsider.com/joshua-silverstein-doesnt-want-cs-in-law-school-2013

Posted by: Adamakis | May 16, 2013 12:16:19 AM

Well for the ones they have been stupid enough to release early. I feel they are kind of shit out of luck. You told them to get out! If they had refused to leave.....i'm' sure additonal charges would have been brought!

So your shit out of luck on demanding they return to prison. I know i wouldn't!

Posted by: rodsmith | May 16, 2013 1:11:58 AM

Well, if Colorado law is anything like federal law, those who were "mistakenly" released through no fault of their own WILL receive credit against their "reimposed" sentences for all time spent at liberty. As one who worked for decades on these types of issues in the federal system, I can tell you that this is somewhat of a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. For example, if a specific sentence/offense is required by statute to run consecutively to any other sentence (typically gun offenses) but the judge fails to so specify, corrections officials (who have the responsibility for computing/executing sentences) are accused of "overreaching" if they run the sentence consecutively, or contact the sentencing court for clarification. Similarly, when federal judges attempt to back-date the beginning date of sentences, or grant pre-sentence credit, both prohibited by statute (see U.S. v. Wilson 1991(?)), correctional officials are again accused of overreaching by treating such judicial statements as "surplusage."

Posted by: anon | May 16, 2013 6:13:57 AM

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