Criminal Justice

Hundreds of Nebraska inmates released early due to sentence miscalculations, officials say

More than 300 Nebraska prison inmates have been freed prematurely due to a miscalculation of their sentences, state officials acknowledge.

Forty-one of those inmates are in the process of being rounded up to serve out the rest of their sentences, the Omaha World-Herald reports. More than 250 others whose sentences would have been completed by now will remain free.

Nearly 600 current inmates whose sentences were also miscalculated have had their sentences recalculated, according to the World-Herald. Those inmates—who make up about 13 percent of the state’s prison population—will end up serving an average of 3½ additional years.

State officials launched an investigation of sentencing practices in mid-June after the World-Herald reported that the Nebraska Department of Corrections had been using a flawed formula to calculate some inmates’ release dates. The findings of that investigation were announced at a press conference Friday by Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman and Attorney General Jon Bruning.

Investigators found that 873 inmates have had their sentences miscalculated, 567 of whom are still in prison and 306 of whom were released early. Forty-one of those who were released early will be furloughed, paroled or returned to prison; 257 others who have been free longer than their recalculated release dates will not be pursued. Eight others have died or completed parole.

Some of the rounded-up former inmates are threatening to sue the state to keep from being returned to prison. But Bruning said he expects the roundup to be upheld in court.

“They can sue—but they aren’t going to win,” he said. “The case law is clear. They owe us the time.”

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