Programs got suspect in Colorado slaying out of prison early

Posted Friday, Mar. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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DENVER -- Evan Ebel was released from prison more than three months early largely because of his participation in programs designed to coax troubled offenders from solitary confinement -- programs championed by the man he is suspected of killing, Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements, authorities said Friday.

Ebel, 28, a member of a white supremacist prison gang with a long felony record, died in a shootout in North Texas this month. Investigators say he may be linked to the slaying of Clements as well as a pizza delivery man who was fatally shot shortly before Clements' death.

Records released Thursday show that Ebel was released Jan. 28 after serving seven years, 11 months and 24 days. They also show that he was credited for 115 days' good behavior despite racking up 28 different violations of prison rules and a long disciplinary record behind bars.

Ebel entered prison in 2005 on a three-year sentence in a robbery case, legal records show. But that was extended once he was linked to an assault charge that netted him an eight-year term. It lengthened again once he was convicted of assaulting a prison guard in 2006. Because some of the sentences were to be served concurrently, Ebel was in total supposed to spend more than eight years behind bars.

While Ebel was disciplined for threatening to kill guards, assaulting other prisoners and being unruly, corrections officials could not legally extend the length of his sentence as punishment, spokeswoman Alison Morgan said Friday.

Once they gave Ebel credit toward earlier release -- which he earned -- they were prohibited from rescinding it, she said.

Ebel spent most of his time behind bars in solitary confinement, accruing five days of earned time while in the general population in 2005. He earned a total of 60 days' early release by participating in two programs that eased inmates in solitary back into the general population and tried to change their behavior. Each time he was kicked out of the program for disciplinary violations and sent back to solitary confinement, he stopped accruing earned time.

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