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Michigan prisons released 41 felons early

Associated Press Writer

LANSING, Michigan- Michigan prison officials have found 41 recent cases of felons accused of violating their paroles mistakenly being released because they did not get a hearing within 45 days of their arrest, including a man now charged with killing three people, officials said Tuesday.

Patrick Alan Selepak was charged with killing three people after he was wrongly freed. Five corrections workers have been suspended because of the Selepak case and could face disciplinary action ranging from a written reprimand to being fired.

Corrections Department Director Patricia Caruso told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that systemic and individual errors led to such releases.

The department policy is to hold suspected parole violators even if they have not had a hearing within 45 days, she said. The state Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that prisoners accused of parole violations do not need to be released if the 45 days passes.

"There is no percentage of error that is acceptable," Caruso said.

Of the 41 offenders mistakenly released over a one-year period, 25 are back in custody, including Selepak. Seven were allowed to remain on parole, seven were discharged from parole supervision, one is dead and one remains at large.

Caruso said the department has undertaken an aggressive reorganization, starting with having parole release and parole supervision units report directly to the parole board.

Selepak, 27, and his fiancee, Samantha Jean Bachynski, 19, are being held without bail on first-degree murder and other charges stemming from a crime spree in February.

Selepak was released from prison last year after serving eight years for armed robbery. He was arrested Nov. 8 on parole violation charges, and his parole officer recommended that he go back to prison, but he was released Jan. 10 because no parole hearing was scheduled within 45 days of his arrest.

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