Attorney General Jon Bruning defends state Corrections Director Mike Kenney’s controversial program to deal with inmates prematurely released from prison who had very little time left on their sentences.
The defense comes as a special legislative committee prepares to hear from Gov. Dave Heineman.
The program covered five inmates released prematurely from prison with only days left on their sentences. Corrections Director Mike Kenney allowed them to serve out their time at home with monitoring bracelets and weekly check-ins with parole officers.
Attorney General Jon Bruning defends Kenney’s actions.
“Now, should he have checked with us and we could have vetted this thing and maybe done it slightly different? Maybe, but I mean it’s easy to armchair quarterback. We’re trying to clean up a very broad mess,” Bruning tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
The Department of Correctional Services Special Investigative Committee has been looking into the premature release of inmates from prison. Hundreds of inmates were released, because the Department of Correctional Services failed to adhere to state Supreme Court rulings on prison sentences.
The special legislative committee has heard from a number of individuals. Now, it will hear from Gov. Heineman, who it subpoenaed to testify during its hearing at the state Capitol in Lincoln this morning.
Some on that legislative committee have called Kenney’s program illegal.
“Is it legal or illegal? I don’t know. A court would decide,” Bruning says. “When people say it’s illegal, they make it sound like it’s something criminal. I mean it’s most certainly is not that. It’s somebody in state government making a decision and I support him in it.”
Bruning has sent a letter to the committee, outlining his legal analysis of the program. [PDF of Bruning letter to committee]
Kenney earlier wrote a letter to the committee, outlining the steps that led him to create the program. It covered five of the 20 former inmates who had been mistakenly released early from prison and had six months of their sentences left. The five had from 12 to 64 days left on their sentences.
Kenney has disputed hand written notes by a former attorney at the Department of Correctional Services, George Green, that listed Gov. Dave Heineman and Attorney General Jon Bruning among those attending a meeting in which he created the alternative placement program. Heineman has denied he attended such a meeting.
The Department of Correctional Services ignored two state Supreme Court rulings, releasing 200 inmates early and setting early release dates for 550 others. The governor’s office and Corrections officials reported 306 inmates were released prematurely by the department. Many inmates received credit for time served in the community without incident.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]