By Alan Shope, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
Terri Richert and Kansas City officials believe an early release program at the Kansas City Municipal Jail may have led to Heather Brown's death.
So the Kansas City Council approved a change to the program Thursday that council members believe will change lives.
Previously, inmates were released without a judge's approval or knowledge. Instead, a system was used to determine which inmates would be released early because of overcrowding. City administrators made the decisions without consulting the sentencing judges.
Of the 87 released early over the past 18 months, many were waiting to get into an in-patient treatment program for drug addiction. One of those was Heather Brown who was supposed to go into a drug rehabilitation program under a judge's order.
"She went through drug rehab. She was due to graduate," Richert said.
After a relapse, she was back in jail. A judge ordered her to return to rehab.
"She was due out on July 19. They let her out on July 2 and a week later she was dead."
Brown became the city's 52nd homicide of 2012.
The judge who had ordered Brown to rehab again had no say in her release. That will change soon because of the council's decision.
Richert has cried tears every day in mourning for her daughter. While it's too late for her daughter, Richert hopes the change will help others. She believes it will give them a chance that they might not have otherwise all because of her daughter.
"She was on the road to recovery. If they had not released her early, she would still be alive today. That is the point of changing the law, to maybe save someone's life and if the change saves just one life then it was all worth it," she said.
Councilman Jermaine Reed said it is crucial not to release some offenders too soon before they can get the vital help they need.
"Our efforts to tweak the language will allow for that extra time and for judges to have the right to do the things that they need to do," Reed said.
No arrests have been made in Brown's death. If you have any information, call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.
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Copyright2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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