Geoff Dornan

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February 26, 2013
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One Nevada prisoner had sentence extended due to error, auditors say

Auditors say that despite claims by some inmates and their advocates, there not only have been very few errors in prison records, but that only three inmates had their parole date affected by a mistake.

After the issue was raised last year, advocates and inmates charged that hundreds of inmates had been denied parole because of mistakes in their records.

According to the audit report released Monday, two of those inmates actually got out earlier than they should have because of the errors found in an examination of 300 records.

The third, however, had his parole hearing delayed about 10 months because of the error, which classified his offense as a category B felony instead of category C. The difference is that people convicted of category B felonies can't earn good-time credits to reduce their minimum sentences. Once the error was discovered, the inmate was granted parole at his first hearing, the report said.

"Although 13 percent of reports tested had errors, the errors did not have any consequences because the Parole Board corrected the information before using it to make its decisions," according to the report summary.

Inmate advocates have claimed since the so-called computer glitch was discovered that, as inmate records were moved from the old computer system to the new one, old and expired charges and sentences began showing up in inmate files as current offenses. They say that prevented those inmates from getting parole hearings when they were supposed to and, in some cases, caused the parole board to deny release because of the bad information in their parole report.

Specifically, they said the new computer system listed all those old charges as having been in effect when the computer switch happened in June 2007, bringing expired charges forward. Auditors concluded that, while current offense dates are important in determining parole eligibility, "prior offense dates are not used to make decisions at the Department (of Corrections) or by the Parole Board."

As a result, auditors ruled that the errors didn't affect inmates.

They did, however, recommend thorough reviews of the accuracy of inmate criminal-history information in reports before they go to the Parole Board. Prison officials said that when the issue was discovered, they intended to do just that in preparing future parole reports.

The errors showed up particularly in inmate offense-history data - mostly missing offenses that should have been listed. The auditors concluded, however, that none of those inmates with missing offenses had their prison classification affected "primarily because they had similar offenses in their criminal history."

Auditors also recommended that prison officials check inmate history and offense data when they do their six-month reviews of each inmate to see whether that person's classification needs to be changed. They said the data can be corrected at that time with minimal effort or cost.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Feb 26, 2013 01:42AM Published Feb 26, 2013 01:42AM Copyright 2013 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.