Early jail-release rules would be made more clear

January 24, 1991|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,Evening Sun Staff

In response to the mistaken early release last year of John Frederick Thanos, who subsequently was charged with killing three teen-agers, state prison officials are seeking legislation to help prevent such mistakes in the future.

The bill, introduced in the House of Delegates yesterday, seeks to clarify the law governing how prison officials calculate "good-time" credits earned by inmates to reduce their sentences.

Inmates can shorten their prison time by earning such credits for good behavior and for participation in training and educational programs, among other things.

Last April, Thanos was mistakenly released 543 days too early from the Eastern Correctional Institution near Princess Anne due to a miscalculation of the good-time credits he earned in prison, state prison officials said.

In September, Thanos was charged with murdering Melody Pistorio, 14, and William "Billy" Winebrenner, 16, during the Labor Day robbery of a Middle River gas station/convenience store. He also stands accused in the murder of Gregory A. Taylor, 18, a Salisbury-area man who had given him a ride.

"After the investigation of the Thanos case, it was determined that the section of the law relating to diminution credits needed to be clarified," said Len Sipes, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. "Through this bill, we have recommended deleting some obsolete language and we have recommended clarifying language."

Sipes declined further comment until the bill receives a hearing before a legislative committee next week.

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