Officer's murder shines light on early releases from prison

INDIANAPOLIS - The ex-con who killed an Indianapolis police officer Friday morning now tops the list of prisoners released after serving only months of their court-imposed sentences, the Call 6 Investigators have found.

Indiana Department of Corrections records show Steven Byrdo, 24, was a repeat drug dealer who served only a portion of his latest sentence:  16 months for dealing cocaine.

He is among a growing list of inmates who commit new crimes and violence after being released from prison long before their sentences have been served.

Just last month, the Call 6 Investigators reported on another felon who served only a fraction of his prison sentence for domestic violence.   Hian Castillo, 29, was sentenced to three years behind bars, but he was out in a matter of months when a coworker at a south side McDonalds reported he was sexually molesting her on the job.  He was sent back to prison for the new crimes after the Call 6 Investigators reported on his case.

In May, a break-in at a south side Lilly complex was pinned on three people, including a convict who was released early.   Douglas Shurson, 19, was arrested again for the crime shortly after being released early for drug and assault convictions, as well as a violation of his probation.

A repeat child pornographer was released early, and the Call 6 Investigators found he was arrested again in May after authorities found he was accessing even more pornography on his computer.

Also in May, a man identified by police as a career burglar was arrested for a new burglary in Carmel after serving only months of his latest prison sentence.

While the latest statistics from the Indiana Department of Corrections do not break down how many convicts are released before their court-imposed sentences are finished, the 2009 figures show 36.1 percent of convicts who are released from prison are finding themselves back in prison for new crimes.

In Marion County, those numbers are much higher.  The 2009 figures show 45.9 percent, amounting to 2,435 convicts, heading back to prison for new crimes after they leave prison.

In the killing of Officer Rod Bradway, records show shooter Steven Byrdo would have still been in prison through the start of 2014 under the sentence that was imposed by the court. Indiana Department of Correction spokesman Doug Garrison said the department had no choice but to release him after serving half of his sentence under Indiana law.

Despite his past conviction for the same drug dealing crime, Garrison said Byrdo was again released after serving half of his sentence, as spelled out under Indiana sentencing laws. In addition, the Indiana Department of Corrections allows for "good time," or days to be shaved off a sentence, if the offender behaves while behind bars.

When the Call 6 Investigators reported last year on the swim coach being released early for molesting a child, some lawmakers promised to dig into those early release guidelines when it comes to sex offenders.

Bradway's murder could add fuel to that controversy at the Statehouse if lawmakers decide to look at the broader picture of early releases in general.

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