A criminal investigation into the prison sentencing miscalculation scandal has been handed over to prosecutors.
Gov. Dave Heineman ordered the Nebraska State Patrol to investigate whether anyone at the Department of Correctional Services broke the law when the department miscalculated prison sentences and released hundreds of inmates prematurely.
“The state patrol has given the report to the two prosecuting attorneys, as you’ve indicated; the Attorney General’s office and the Lancaster County Attorney’s Office,” Heineman told Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “I’ve not seen that report and really shouldn’t at this stage. It’s in the normal law enforcement channels.”
A miscalculation by the Department of Correctional Services led to the release of 306 inmates before they had served their time. Before the mistake was caught, a majority of the inmates had served enough time in their communities to qualify for completion of their sentences. State officials served warrants for others to return to prison and serve out their time.
The Omaha World Herald broke the story in a special investigative piece. Most of the 306 released were out 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.
Investigations since have revealed that the Department of Correctional Services ignored two state Supreme Court rulings in calculating the prison sentences of inmates.
An investigation into whether any criminal charges will be filed has been completed by the Nebraska State Patrol and handed over to both Lancaster County Attorney Joe Kelly and Attorney General Jon Bruning. Kelly have indicated that a decision on criminal charges should be made by the end of the month.
A special legislative committee has been looking into the actions of the department as well.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]