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Colorado auditing prison files over hundreds of misapplied sentences

Colorado auditing prison files over hundreds of misapplied sentences
An audit of the Colorado Department of Corrections has revealed that hundreds of inmates have been given incorrect prison sentences, meaning some freshly released parolees will be forced back behind bars while others have been incarcerated for too long.

Though only a fraction of the audit has been completed, the examination has already found “serious questions” in the sentences of some 349 convicts, according to the Denver Post. Judges have amended 56 of those errors and are in the process of clearing the rest. 

Some of the sentences are erroneous because a judicial clerk gave an incorrect statement to the corrections department, while in other instances prison officials misread the documents. State officials will try to correct their mistakes by returning the wrongfully released to prison and springing others immediately. 

The audit is not expected to be complete until July, although state officials have identified 8,415 prisoners whose sentences need to be examined. Of that total, 2,500 are expected to warrant a close inspection. 

If the current rate continues, more than 1,000 individuals will be victims of “serious” sentencing errors. 

I think it would be logical to be concerned,” Roger Werholtz, the interim executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, told the Post. “Here’s the reality: Sentencing laws are so complex, it is not unusual to find errors in how sentences are communicated from courts to the state.” 

Werhotlz is currently serving as interim executive director because his predecessor Tom Clements was murdered at his own front door. 

Evan Ebel, the man suspected of the crime, was an alleged white supremacist who was killed in a shootout with Texas police. He was known to have assaulted a prison guard in 2006. Ebel did not serve any time for the assault because a clerical error changed the time served order from “consecutive” to “concurrent.” 

He was released from Fremont Correctional facility four years earlier than his actual intended release date. 
Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, who was coincidentally friends with Ebel’s father, ordered the audit in response to Clements’ murder.