KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Kansas City judge said early release meant an early death for at least two inmates because he wasn't consulted about their release. Now he is working to change the system, and so far the city council has agreed with his cause.
Judge Joseph Locascio came before the public safety committee two weeks ago to plead his case. Wednesday they answered with an amendment to the city ordinance in which he found fault.
Overcrowding at the municipal jail this July made it necessary to release some inmates early. Two of those inmates happened to have been sentenced by Judge Locascio and within days of release, they were dead.
Heather L. Brown, 32, was found murdered in her car on July 12 at 39th and Kensington. She was addicted to PCP. Donald Duncan, 55, suffered from alcoholism. On Juy 3, the Jackson County Medical Examiner confirmed he was the city's ninth heat-related death.
Locascio had ordered both to drug and alcohol treatment but with their early release, neither one ever made it.
"I'm not doing my job as a judge if I don't understand what caused the criminal behavior and then take the appropriate action to make sure that it doesn't happen again," Locascio said when asked if the city has any responsibility beyond jailing convicted criminals.
Under the amended ordinance, municipal judges would have the opportunity to exclude certain prisoners from early release at their sentencing rather than waiting for the chance that early release becomes a possibility.
For Locascio, that means prisoners who suffer from mental illness or addiction.
The Public Safety Committee will present the amendment to the full council Thursday afternoon.
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