The Kansas City Council is expected to vote today to change the early jail release policy following the deaths of two inmates who died this summer shortly after their release.
The council’s Public Safety Committee endorsed a measure Wednesday that requires the sentencing judge’s approval for any jail prisoner’s early release.
“It’s important, given recent events,” Presiding Municipal Judge Ardie Bland told the committee.
Bland was referring to the deaths of two inmates who were released early from Kansas City’s regional correctional facility.
Both were addicts and had been sentenced to the jail with the intention that they would get into treatment. But they were let go early due to overcrowding. Shortly thereafter, one was the victim of a homicide and the other collapsed on an asphalt parking lot and died of heat-related causes.
Municipal Judge Joe Locascio, who had sentenced them, complained to the City Council last month that he had never signed off on their releases and said he was sure there would have been better candidates for early release.
Jail officials responded that they attempt to release people who have served most of their sentences and who have exhibited no dangerous behavior.
Locascio pointed out that city ordinance made no provision for the sentencing judge to have a say in the early releases. The council is poised to change that policy.
“I’m encouraged,” Locascio said of the proposed ordinance change, and he thanked the public safety committee for its swift action.