Three ‘mistakenly released’ Nebraska inmates still on the loose

Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

Three inmates “mistakenly released” in a major state sentencing screw-up remain on the loose.

AT LARGE: Authorities are still searching for three inmates mistakenly released in a state sentencing screw-up

Late last week arrest warrants were issued for 20 individuals, some considered dangerous. As of late Wednesday afternoon the governor’s office said 17 were no longer a threat:

  • 12 are back in custody.
  • Three were previously deported.
  • One is confined at the Norfolk Regional Center.
  • One is dead.

Officials are not identifying the missing three. The 20 warrants were issued in eight Nebraska counties: Colfax, Dawson, Douglas, Gosper, Hall, Lancaster, Sarpy and Scotts Bluff.

As for the 12 back in custody, an analysis by Nebraska Watchdog has found details on 10:

  • Three were convicted of drug crimes—one in Douglas County, two in Lancaster County.
  • Two convicted for burglary—both in Lancaster County.
  • Two convicted of sex crimes—one in Gosper County, the other involving a child in Dawson County.
  • One assault conviction—Douglas County.
  • One conviction for carrying a deadly weapon—Douglas County
  • One conviction for making terrorist threats—Hall County.

The Omaha World-Herald first reported the state prison system has been incorrectly calculating sentences, letting prisoners out too early and disregarding state Supreme Court sentencing rulings in 2002 and 2013. Prison employees did not require inmates to serve their mandatory sentence before earning “good time,” which basically cuts their sentences in half.

Last week the Department of Corrections said 306 inmates were released early. Corrections has now corrected those numbers.

Here’s the latest breakdown:

  • 113 were released “appropriately”—except five who died while serving their sentences.
  • 131 were released early but won’t be going back to prison. That’s because their true release date has come and gone and, while out, they have not been convicted of any additional crimes.
  • 17 “miscellaneous”—four owe time for a new crime and are currently behind bars, seven died before being released, five had their sentences set aside, one had his sentence dismissed.

During a news conference last Friday, Gov. Dave Heineman again said “mistakes were made” adding at the proper time those responsible will be held accountable.

Contact Joe Jordan at joe@nebraskawatchdog.org.

Joe can be heard on Omaha’s KFAB radio every Monday at 7:40 a.m. and KHAS-AM in Hastings every Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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