Missouri Parole Board facing questions for controversial decisions

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by Craig Cheathem

KMOV.com

Posted on December 10, 2009 at 8:08 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 10 at 11:47 PM

KMOV - News 4 is still asking questions and demanding answers to controversial decisions made by the Missouri Parole Board.

The Missouri Parole Board has released 37 people with life sentences this year alone. 15 of them, roughly 40 percent of those paroled, committed violent crimes in the city of St. Louis. Many of them, though, were eligible for parole in just 15 years.

Herbert Harris, released a month ago, had served 28 years in prison for pistol whipping and raping an 81-year-old woman. After the assault, he burned her with matches.

"My opinion is that a person who commits a crime like that should receive life in jail," says St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom. "There should be no possibility of parole."

David Cantrell shot and killed a man in a St. Louis bar, then became a fugitive for seven years, eventually becoming the first poster boy for St. Louis' ten most wanted. Cantrell was released two months ago after 21 years in prison.

"I think in some ways it misrepresents what is really going to be done when it says someone receives life in prison, but can actually get out in 15 years," Isom says.

News 4 recently reported that after two years on parole, murderer William Chandler is now on the least restrictive level of supervision. He's only required to call his parole officer once a month.

Jack Banas is the St. Charles county prosecutor. Chandler lives in the county.

"Certainly when we release individuals like this it puts all of us at risk in the community," says Banas.

The parole board says a real "life sentence" took effect in 1984. Offenders convicted of first degree murder must be sentenced to life without parole or death. 
 

The change, though, doesn't effect people convicted of 2nd degree murder or rape. People with those sentences are still eligible for parole after 15 years.

Click here to search the state for all offenders

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