MA Revisits Sentence Calculations; Inmate Freed 2 Years Late


The Massachusetts Department of Correction, staggered by disclosures about its wrongful confinement of at least 14 inmates, is scrapping its system for calculating inmate sentences and is devising new methods to make sure prisoners serve only their legal terms, the Boston Globe reports. The department disclosed that an inmate previously described as having been held 34 days too long was actually released more than two years — 790 days — after he should have been. Lawrence Burhoe, who served time for armed robbery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, learned of the mistake yesterday. “How could they do that?” said Burhoe, who was released last April. “I’m kind of overwhelmed. I had told them, ‘I don’t owe you any more time. My time is up.’ ”

The acknowledgement that the sentencing system will be overhauled comes eight days after Public Safety Secretary Kevin Burke said he was ordering a sweeping review of state prison operations after the Globe revealed a series of sentence miscalculations — errors Burke called inexcusable. One former inmate, Rommel Jones, was held more than four years after he should have been set free. The department never informed Jones of the error or apologized for it. Asked whether any manager had been fired or demoted because of the errors, the department would not discuss “personnel issues.” It blamed the errors on the complexity of court decisions governing the terms of sentences.


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