Ky. prepares to release nearly 1000 inmates - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky. prepares to release nearly 1000 inmates

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- Nearly 1,000 inmates are expected to released in the coming days as part of a new program designed to save Kentucky's government millions of dollars.

Under the new early release program, 996 inmates will be released on January 3, 2012, six months before their earliest release dates. It's all part of the mandate created in the passage of House Bill 463. The process is estimated to save the state $40 million next year.

But a WDRB News investigation found the state's Department of Corrections has actually spent some money on the inmates and that some of them set for release were convicted of violent crimes that resulted in deaths. 

Among those set for release is Frankie Roberson, who was convicted of reckless homicide and sentenced to five years in prison. Prosecutors says and 64-year old McOwen Drane became involved in a fight after Drane tried to exchange a phone card at store near his home on 24th Street. Drane and Roberson ended up in a fight, and prosecutors say Drane's head hit against a brick wall.

Reckless homicide is the lowest homicide related charge in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Now, after serving less than three years of a five-year sentence, Roberson is being released.

"It's not fair. It's not. It's cruel how the system is," said James Black, Drane's nephew. "(Roberson) did the crime, so he need to do the crime, and man up."

Black was unaware that Roberson was being released until he was notified by WDRB News this week. Other victims' families contacted by the news organization also confirmed that they had no knowledge or notification from the state that inmates involved in manslaughter, robbery and assault cases were being released.

That's because these inmates' cases were not reviewed by the state's parole board. Instead, offender records with the Department of Corrections determined which inmates fell under the criteria for early release, according to officials within the department.

According to Todd Henson, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, 160 inmates have indicated they plan to relocate in Jefferson County. The inmates will be supervised and parole officers will help them find jobs.

But for the inmates who don't have rides, the state has purchased bus tickets. WDRB News asked for those records under the Kentucky Open Records Act, but the television station was told the records requested did not exist.

A spokeswoman for Greyhound told WDRB News the company does not typically reveal information about its travelers.

Henson said the state has made arrangements for the inmates, so the inmates won't be "hitch-hiking" around downtown Louisville. All locations were approved by the state, some include halfway houses.

 

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