Crime & Courts

Sheriff's office to more thoroughly review transfers to work release

The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office plans to change the way it transfers inmates eligible for work release. The move comes after a story in The Eagle shed light on a clerical error that allowed a multiple DUI offender to go to work release when he should have been in jail.

In addition, a judge today will consider whether the roughly three months that Johnny Dore mistakenly spent in work release should count toward his 18-month jail sentence for what court documents say was his sixth DUI.

Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert sentenced Dore to 18 months in jail in April 2008 for a March 26, 2007, DUI. Dore's truck crashed into Russ and Myrna Haas' vehicle that rainy night. A police officer said Myrna Haas had failed to yield to Dore but didn't give her a ticket. Dore had been driving without his lights, and his blood alcohol level was 0.223, court records show, almost three times the legal limit of 0.08.

Russ Haas has been in a nursing home and uses a wheelchair since the accident.

Dore pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of battery and a DUI in the case.

Wilbert sentenced Dore to 12 months in jail on the DUI and six months in jail for the battery charges.

Between the accident and the sentencing, Dore was arrested again, on Oct. 28, 2007. He initially faced a seventh DUI case and a charge of driving while his license was suspended. The state had suspended his license after the accident involving the Haases.

The DUI charge later was dismissed. Dore received a six-month sentence for driving while his license was suspended. A judge authorized work release in that case.

But Dore was supposed to serve his entire 18-month sentence in the Haas case in jail before being transferred to work release.

He started serving his sentence April 9, 2008. On July 7, 2008, information about Dore's six-month work release sentence was faxed to the work release center, and two days later, a clerk instructed jailers to move Dore to work release.

But he hadn't served out his 18-month sentence yet, and no one at the jail caught the error.

Dore was mistakenly on work release from July 9, 2008, through Oct. 27, 2008.

During that time, he was able to drive with a restricted driver's license that required a device in his vehicle that measured his blood alcohol level. Myrna Haas said she began hearing from people who said they had seen Dore out at breakfast.

She called the jail, discovered the mistake, and Dore was sent back to jail.

Sheriff Robert Hinshaw said Tuesday that his office had completed its investigation into the mistake.

"Policy is what was flawed," Hinshaw said.

From now on, transfers to work release "will be treated as if the inmate is being released entirely from custody, which requires a complete case review by the booking corporal and a booking sergeant to make sure all other conditions of confinement are met," Hinshaw said.

Previously, "work release would call, and we'd ship them over."

Myrna Haas said she plans to attend today's hearing, at which Wilbert will consider whether the time Dore mistakenly spent in work release before it was authorized will count toward his jail sentence or toward his six-month work-release sentence in the later case.

"I think it should count toward his work release," Haas said. She added she doesn't want Dore to spend more time in custody than he was sentenced to, but she wants him to spend his 18-month sentence in jail as ordered.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle

  Comments