SANTA FE (KRQE) - After state prisons released several inmates early, a new protocol to make sure that doesn't happen again could keep some inmates who should be on parole locked up longer at taxpayer expense.
New Mexico Department of Corrections officials said they're pouring a lot of manpower into fixing an early release problem.
In recent months two inmates released before they should have are now linked to crimes they shouldn't have been able to commit.
Most recently, Chris Blattner was released three years early, and police said he's now linked to the disappearance of an Albuquerque woman in her 60s.
Blattner's release, however, is being blamed on court sentencing paperwork never being sent to the Corrections Department.
Prison officials are working harder and longer hours to make sure early releases don't happen again.
Deputy Secretary of Operations Joe Booker said they know it could lead to convicts starting their parole while still behind bars.
"We want to ensure the public is safe, Booker said. "The process might slow down."
Prison officials said miscalculated sentences or incomplete paperwork from courts was the problem. So, this weekend they started a new checking system.
Booker said extra staff, shuffled from other departments, will check and recheck that everything is accounted for. That could means inmates like Ruben Padilla, who finished his sentence last month, remain behind bars when he should out on parole.
Department of Corrections said he has been classified as a parolee since Aug. 28, but they had to certify him to be released. Still on Thursday corrections officials said there is no definite date on when he will be set free.
Padilla's wife, Shayla Padilla, is still waiting for that call.
"It's not fair because they're doing time that they've already did," she said. "It's not our fault that the state of New Mexico made one mistake on this person. Why check everyone's files four or five times?"
It could also cost taxpayers.
"The cost is around $100 a day to house inmates," Booker said.
Booker said he doesn't anticipate the number of late releases to be high but said that is not the main focus for the prison system.
"I would much rather house them within the prison than have them go in the community if they're not due to be released," Booker said.
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