Published 2/11/2013 in NewsBy HURST LAVIANA
The Wichita Eagle
(MCT) — Nineteen inmates serving life sentences for first-degree murder have been released from Kansas prisons over the past three years.
The inmates, who range in age from 35 to 92, were convicted of killing 21 people between 1979 and 1995. Most were serving life sentences that made them parole-eligible after 15 years. They served an average of 23.8 years in custody.
Corinne Radke, co-founder of the Wichita chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, was discouraged when she saw the list of paroled killers.
"It's too many, that's all I can say," she said. "I'm kind of surprised, I guess, that there weren't more.
"My reaction is just leave 'em in there."
Wichita lawyer Richard Ney, who has been representing first-degree murder defendants for three decades, defended the inmates' release.
"It was not the will of Kansans that these people be locked up forever," he said. "First-degree murder does have the possibility of parole after a long sentence. Obviously these individuals have shown that they've been rehabilitated.
"The statistics will tell you that first-degree murder, and homicide in general, has one of the lowest recidivism rates of any crime."
The 19 paroled murderers were among 221 inmates with first-degree murder convictions who went before the Kansas Parole Board or the Prisoner Review Board from January 2010 through September 2012. The figures come from minutes of parole and review board hearings that were provided to The Wichita Eagle under a Kansas Open Records request.
The minutes of 12 of the 221 hearings were marked "paroled to determinate sentence," but those inmates were not released. Most are serving a life sentence for murder and a consecutive determinate sentence for another crime. Once they have been paroled from the life prison term, they can begin serving the determinate portion of their sentences.
Of the 190 inmates who were rejected outright, the Kansas Parole Board or Prisoner Review Board typically cited the violent nature of the crime and objections by victims or officials in denying parole.
Among those denied parole was Glendal Rider, who is serving three life sentences for three murders. He broke out of the Larned State Hospital in 1978 after committing two of the murders and mailed the steel bar he had cut through to The Eagle from Denver in an unsuccessful attempt to throw authorities off his trail.
Also rejected for parole were 65 of 90 inmates with second-degree murder convictions. They include one of two men convicted in the Sept. 20, 1998, drive-by shooting in northwest Wichita that resulted in the death of 12-year-old Na Nguyen as she slept in her home at 1362 N. Maus.
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