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51 NM inmates released by mistake

By Vanessa de la Viña, vanessa@kvia.com
Published On: May 16 2013 08:47:58 PM CDT
LAS CRUCES, N.M. -

Fifty-one New Mexico convicts were released early because of mistakes in the system.

Corrections Department officials said these errors were made for nearly a decade before they discovered this.

Las Crucens were shocked to hear the news.

"I hope they resolve it for the safety of all of us," said Las Crucen Joe Baca.

"I hope they learn from it. It is scary. You think they'd have been more careful. I hope they got to the bottom of how that miscalculation was made. What kind of faulty arithmetic were they doing that they did something like that?" said Mary Thompson, another Las Crucen.

Corrections officials said this is the result of a complicated sentencing system and miscalculations by employees.

"An inmate will come to prison. They'll spend many years. Lots of things affect their sentencing. They can appeal. They can get more charges. There's just a number of things that cause the sentencing calculation to be a very fluid process," said corrections secretary Gregg Marcantel.

Marcantel told ABC-7 the audit results are disappointing, but officials are working to fix it.

Officials said they can not identify the convicts yet because they do not want them to run before they are caught.

ABC-7 confirmed the inmates who were released included convicted drug dealers, child abusers and even murderers.

Some have already committed crimes and been re-arrested. Others have been brought back to prison after the mistakes were discovered.

Marcantel said they're updating the entire system to ensure this does not happen again. He said they centralized the inmate records bureau to recalculate the sentencing for every inmate.

"Am I embarrassed? No because this is deploying the courage it takes to fix things in a meaningful way. We're as an organization going to have the willingness to confront looking at ourselves in this way to make sure it gets fixed," he told ABC-7.

This is the first phase of a major review of inmate files. Officials are now reviewing violent offenders who were released from 2006 to 2012.

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