Independent review ordered in early release of inmates |

Independent review ordered in early release of inmates

Geoff Dornan

CARSON CITY – Gov. Kenny Guinn has ordered an independent audit of more than 170 prison inmates who were given good time credits qualifying them for early release.

Director of Corrections Jackie Crawford awarded credits to 149 male and 27 female inmates nearing the end of their sentences between November and January, enabling them to qualify for early release from prison. Guinn’s chief of staff Mike Hillerby said this weekend the cases must be reviewed individually to determine whether the credits were awarded appropriately and according to prison regulations.

He said Monday the audit will be performed by the executive branch internal audit team but that they will be assisted by some one with expertise in prison operations and time credits.

Guinn’s press secretary Greg Bortolin said the review will take some time to complete.

“If there are 176 of these cases, every one has to be looked at,” he said.

In addition, the audit team will take a long look at the work-time credits awarded James Yach who was released earlier this month after 81Ú2 years in prison for a driving under the influence accident that resulted in the death of a Las Vegas man. He was denied release by the Parole Board in February but then awarded the extra credits by Crawford, who described him as having a very good prison record.

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Sandy Heverly of Stop DUI in Las Vegas challenged that assessment saying Yach “was by no means a model prisoner.” She said he was out of prison for a while in a house-arrest program but was put back in for violations.

Yach, in fact, was released to the so-called “305” program in 1999. He was returned to prison in 2002.

Crawford said in a Friday interview she awarded the credits after an audit of his work records showed he earned them but never received them. She said inmates are entitled to appeal if they believe they deserve more work credits than they received. Audits of prisoner work records are done monthly and are not supposed to be modified retroactively, according to department regulations.

Hillerby said all those issues will be reviewed by auditors.