Law enforcement officers are serving warrants on up to 25 inmates released prematurely from prison.
The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services miscalculated the release dates for hundreds of prisoners, releasing them before they had served their time.
Attorney General Jon Bruning said most of the inmates pose no danger to the public and have between one to four years left on their sentences. Bruning said the state is trying to handle a mistake by the Department of Correctional Services delicately.
“Like we said, there are a whole bunch of layers to this. Each individual case is different,” Bruning said during a news conference called by Gov. Dave Heineman in his Capitol office. “We’re trying both to protect the public on one hand and be empathetic to the fact that some of these guys are out and have jobs and are starting to be productive citizens and we’re trying to balance all that.”
Correction officials mistakenly released more 306 prisoners before they had served their time. The Omaha World Herald broke the story a couple of weeks ago.
Most have been released long enough to receive the credit necessary for their sentences to be considered completed. A Supreme Court case states that any individual released early, who hasn’t committed a crime while out of prison, receives credit for the time served in their community. That total, according to the governor’s office, is 257 former inmates.
Three of the inmates released early have died. Five have successfully completed their parole.
Of the remaining former prisoners, some have returned to prison, some have qualified for the re-entry furlough program, one is moving through the process of being paroled, and up to 25 are being sought by law enforcement to return to confinement.
The Nebraska State Patrol leads the task force seeking those prisoners. Both state troopers and local law enforcement are serving the warrants.
Gov. Dave Heineman stated those former prisoners need to return and complete their sentences.
“Corrections made a big mistake. We’re trying to correct that. The bad guys need to be locked up and they will be locked up,” the governor said during the news conference.
Heineman added he understands this is a jarring turn of events for those inmates who won release, but said they haven’t paid their debt to society.
“They committed a crime. They were found guilty in a court and a judge issued a sentence and we have an obligation to carry out that sentence even though there was a mistake made.”
Bruning downplayed the danger posed to the public by the early releases. He asserted those wanted don’t pose a real danger to society, but he stated they need to serve the remainder of their sentences. Bruning said it wasn’t a scary group.
“There are a few, to be sure, that are pretty darn scary,” Bruning said. “But, generally speaking, these folks that we’ve re-calculated, they were going to get out anyway.”
AUDIO: Gov. Dave Heineman and Attorney General Jon Bruning discuss actions taken to return inmates released too early to prison. [4 min.]