Showdown looms in federal case involving early release for inmates

April 5, 2014 Updated: April 5, 2014 at 7:11 pm

DENVER - Attorney David Lane said he's been bombarded with phone calls regarding his lawsuit against the Department of Corrections challenging how release dates are calculated for inmates.

"There are thousands of prisoners at DOC and every single one of them wants out," Lane said. "I'm doing the best I can and if everyone just sits tight and everyone who should be included will be included."

The suit is likely to become a class action case on behalf of all inmates who are impacted by how DOC calculates credits given to inmates known as good time, Lane said. If they are part of that case, no further action is required by inmates who feel they have been impacted.

The Attorney General's Office filed a motion to dismiss the case on March 14 arguing that the U.S. District Court of Colorado is the wrong venue to hear the case. Furthermore, the motion noted that a similar case has already been appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court and a federal judge should not interfere with the court's process of interpreting state law.

"Federal courts should not interfere with state court proceedings by granting equitable relief," the court document says.

U.S. District Court of Colorado Chief Judge Marcia S. Krieger has been assigned to the case.

Lane said that if the case is dismissed he will simply file in another jurisdiction.

"If the motion to dismiss is granted then at that point we re-file in state court," Lane said. "The case is not going away no matter what."

At the heart of the case is good time, up to 15 days a month that inmates can earn for following the rules and staying out of trouble. That time is applied to reduce the time served before an inmate is eligible for parole; however, the lawsuit says it should be applied to an inmate's mandatory release date - the date they are set free.

Randal Ankeney, a convicted sex offender, brought the issue forward when he sued to be released from prison. Ankeney eventually won - a court ruling that said earned time should have been applied to his mandatory release date. That case, too, is being appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Lane and Ankeney filed the follow-up case in federal court in January.

Contact Megan Schrader


Twitter: @CapitolSchrader

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