19 Kansas killers paroled in last 3 years

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- In the last three years, 19 Kansas inmates serving life sentences for first-degree murder have been released from state custody after an average of 23.8 years behind bars, a newspaper found in a review of state Department of Corrections records.

The paroled killers 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 Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/Y3gGSn) Sunday. Those numbers were culled from minutes of board meetings provided under a Kansas Open Records request.

The 19 ranged in age from 35 to 92 and were convicted of killing 21 people between 1979 and 1995.

"It's too many, that's all I can say," said Corinne Radke, co-founder of the Wichita chapter of Parents of Murdered Children. "I'm kind of surprised, I guess, that there weren't more.

"My reaction is, just leave 'em in there."

Richard Ney, a Wichita attorney who has been representing defendants in first-degree murder cases for three decades, defended the release of the inmates.

"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."

In addition to the 19 inmates who were paroled, 12 others who went before the parole or review boards were marked "paroled to determinate sentence." Those inmates, most of whom are serving a life sentence for murder and a consecutive sentence for another crime, were not released.

Instead, once they were paroled from their life prison terms, the inmates were able to start serving the determinate portion of their sentences.

Of the 190 others who were rejected outright, the two boards typically cited the violent nature of the crime and objections by victims or officials in denying parole.

Glendal Rider, who is serving three life sentences for three murders, was among those who were denied parole. He broke out of Larned State Hospital in 1978 after committing two of the murders, then mailed the steel bar he had cut through to The Eagle from Denver in an unsuccessful attempt to ditch authorities.

The parole board or review board also rejected parole requests for 65 of 90 inmates with second-degree murder convictions.