Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Waste Watch

The state could be saving up to 10 million dollars a year by simply following the law.  That astonishing number is based on estimates from the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma which is backing up a proposal by the Governor Mary Fallin.  The unique partnership between the liberal legal organization and the conservative governor’s office is aimed at saving money, lives and communities.
The issue is how the state is applying good behavior credits to nonviolent inmates.  It is an issue that is especially important to Kerri Logsdon, who believes her dad has more than paid his debt to society.  “My father is a wonderful man,” Logsdon told Fox 25.  Her father, Jack Logsdon, was a successful businessman who the state called a criminal.  Kerri remembers his reaction when the most serious charges were filed nearly a decade ago.  “Bewildered, outraged when he found out what it was, but bewildered because at first he didn't know what it was.”
Jack Logsdon is a white collar criminal.  He was convicted in a check floating scheme involving a bank the federal government would eventually shut down.  “Two banks participated in a scheme and floated a substantial quantity of checks over a couple of years,” said Thomas Talley, Logsdon’s new attorney.
A federal investigation cleared Jack Logsdon, but he was brought up on state charges.  After he turned down a plea deal to fraud charges, prosecutors added a racketeering charge to his case.  Racketeering is involvement in a criminal organization or conspiracy, but Logsdon was the only conspirator ever charged.
Of the 17 charges he was convicted of, only the racketeering carried serious time.  The Court of Appeals would modify his entire sentence and reduce the racketeering charge to the minimum time possible after deciding Logsdon had actually made substantial restitution.  Logsdon, who turns 70 in October, has been in prison nearly a decade and has never been before the parole board.  Most of his charges carried a one-year sentence.  The Department of Corrections told Fox 25 most people do not ever go to prison on one-year sentences.  His racketeering charge required him to serve at least half of the 10 year minimum.
“There is no reason why he shouldn't have served the more serious racketeering charge first they didn't order the charges be served one through 16 consecutively,” said Talley of the appeals court’s modified sentence.
The DOC says its policy is to serve sentences in order, the department says Logsdon will be eligible for parole in 2017.  However, the DOC has already violated their own state policy by having Logsdon serve two lesser charges first, well out of sequential order.  In addition to questions about the order of sentences, many Logsdon’s good behavior credits mysteriously disappeared.  “He had over 300 credits a year and a half ago,” Talley told Fox 25, “And suddenly 210 of those credits were removed.”
No one can explain to Fox 25 where those missing credits went.  The DOC, which denied our requests for an interview on this case, only says Logsdon should file a grievance if he thinks credits are missing.
“We are addicted to putting people in cages and forgetting about them,” said Brady Henderson, the legal director of the ACLU of Oklahoma.  Henderson says nonviolent inmates are being kept in prison longer than necessary.
“Because we're doing this with thousands of offenders, it's costing us, the state, we think several million dollars a year,” Henderson told Fox 25. 
The ACLU of Oklahoma told the DOC it is preparing to sue the state over the misapplication of state law regarding the earning of good-behavior credits and application of policy.  “When the law tells you you have to serve a certain amount of time and doc is artificially adding a few months to that, that's a problem.”
Governor Mary Fallin recently sent a memo to the DOC asking for the agency to comply with the way the laws are written.  So far, the department has not taken action on her orders.
“What has gone wrong is entirely how DOC has implemented the law, not the law itself,” Henderson said. 
In the case of Jack Logsdon, he's stuck in the struggle between politics and policy. 
“While he's been there [in prison], he's spent his time tutoring other inmates, helping them get their G.E.D.s helping them enroll in college,” Kerri said of her father. 
“I think that just shows his character,” Talley said, “He's a good person. He got involved with First Capital Bank and the issues and problems with that bank.”
,,Phil Cross.

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