In what is typically a politically risky move, six state governors recently granted pardons and commutations to hundreds of current and former prisoners. In California, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Arkansas and Vermont, more than 500 pardons were granted along with another 20 commutations or grants of clemency. In January 2017, outgoing Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin…

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by Christopher Zoukis Only two of the nearly 1,500 prisoners granted early release by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC) from March to October 2014 have returned to prison, notwithstanding news reports indicating that lawmakers and “several” corrections officials have not been supportive of the releases. The approximately 1,500 prisoners were granted early release due…

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The end of October will herald new beginnings for roughly 6,000 inmates whose sentences have been reduced under changes to federal sentencing guidelines. While it might be tempting to attribute these changes to Obama’s push this last year for prison reform, these policy changes stem from wheels set into motion quite some time ago. Under…

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Image courtesy learningenglish.voanews.com- By Jeri Watson / VOA News Eighteen people in central Kenya are taking the country’s secondary education test, called the KNEC. Even under normal conditions, this examination can make a student nervous. But these 18 students may feel especially fearful.  They are serving sentences in a top-security prison. And if they do…

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CONCORD (AP) — Young adult prisoners in New Hampshire would get a chance to shave 13 months off their sentences under a bill heading back to the state Legislature.  Image courtesy www.wesleyan.edu Lawmakers narrowly defeated a bill two years ago that would allow inmates between 17 and 25 to earn time off their sentences for…

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By Dianne Frazee-Walker

You’ve got to give them credit for trying. Florida inmates Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker “almost got away with it.” Instead of digging the traditional tunnel under the prison or impersonating a correctional officer and walking out of prison as free men, these felons came up with a strategy more ingenious than story lines for prison outbreak movies.  

Jenkins and Walker came close to pulling off forging documents that granted them an early release. The escapees both 34 were serving life sentences for murder at the Franklin Correctional Facility in the Florida Panhandle. The duo must have decided a life sentence was too long, so they somehow produced official looking documents that go them an early release, 15 years early. The fraudulent certificates passed as plausible with an authentic looking forged judge’s signature along with case numbers. 

Mr. Jenkins was released on Sept. 27 and registered as a felon on Sept. 30. Mr. Walker was released on Oct. 8 and registered with the authorities three days later.

The ploy came to an abrupt end Saturday evening at Cocoanut Grove Motor Inn located in the touristy town of Panama City Beach, Florida just hours after family members of the men publicly pleaded for their surrender.

The capture occurred just in time because Jenkins and Walker were waiting for a ride from Atlanta to pick them up and take them across the state line. The two men were arrested peacefully and are now in custody. They were unarmed and had a small amount of cash on them.

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By Christopher Zoukis

Introduction: A Loyal Prison Law Blog Reader Writes

Earlier this week, a loyal Prison Law Blog reader presented a situation to us and asked for our help.  The reader said that his elderly family member, who’s currently incarcerated in the Federal Bureau of Prisons on a crack cocaine related offense, had served 24 years in prison — has maintained a clean disciplinary record — and just turned 72.  The question was simple, and a good one, too: “Is there any way that he can petition to be released due to his age and the length of time he’s been in prison?”  While there is no easy answer to this situation, a discussion of the applicable regulations at hand is warranted.  This blog post will provide a top-level overview of early release opportunities for elderly offenders who are incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The Regulation At Hand: 18 U.S.C. § 3582 (c)(a)(A)(ii)

To start, there is law which specifically allows for the release of elderly offenders incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A)(ii) provides that the sentencing court, upon motion of the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, may reduce the term of imprisonment for a defendant who is “at least 70 years of age, has served at least 30 years in prison . . . for the offense or offenses for which the defendant is currently imprisoned, and a determination has been made by the Director of the Bureau of Prisons that the defendant is not a danger to the safety of any other person or the community . . .”*1  As such, there is regulation and precedent for elderly offenders to be released early, but rarely do facts combine into a perfect storm where the motion or request would be granted.

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By Dianne Frazee- Walker

Tom Clements was the Colorado Corrections Chief that was gunned down and killed by suspect Evan Ebel, on March 14, 2013. Ebel was the parolee who prompted the Colorado parole director to create a new policy that would reduce the response time for ankle bracelet tampering alerts after he allegedly removed his ankle bracelet and went on a shooting spree, killing Clements and a pizza delivery man, Nathan Leon. Ebel was later killed in a shoot-out with police after fleeing to Texas.  Refer to: http://www.prisonlawblog.com/blog/colorado-cuts-response-time-bracelet-alerts/

One would wonder how Ebel, a convicted felon could acquire a gun. Tom Clements / Image courtesy nydailynews.com

According to Normando Pacheco, Stevie Marie Anne Vigil’ s defense attorney, Vigil, the 22-year old woman accused of purchasing a Smith & Wesson hand gun for Ebel, says she was threatened by Ebel to buy him the gun or else…..

The handgun was purchased March 6 and Tom Clements was shot on March 14.

Vigil is out on $25,000 bail and charged with illegally purchasing a gun and enabling Ebel to obtain a gun. She is scheduled for a four day trial Aug. 12.

Clements would still be alive if it wasn’t for a clerical error and an ineffective bracelet monitoring procedure. Ebel known as “Evil Ebel” in prison was released four years early. Clements was killed five days later.

Before the incident, Evil Ebel spent most of his adult life in prison and much of that time was spent in “the Hole.” He was a member of a White supremacy gang – called 211 – and had the word hateful tattooed all over his body. Ebel had even threatened a female guard with her life while incarcerated.

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