Nine inmates who successfully graduated from a re-entry program from a state prison and were allowed to start new lives on the outside are now back in prison because of a state error, a Channel 4 I-Team investigation found.
Among the inmates is Darryl Harmon, who spent six months completing the program at the Turney Center Industrial Complex.
Harmon was released from prison after convictions of aggravated robbery, met with his probation officer and spent the last two weeks reconnecting with his young daughter, visiting his siblings and starting work in landscaping.
But on July 3, while sitting on his mother's back porch, state probation and parole officers arrived.
"My son told me there were nine cars here. About 30 people here. Had the house surrounded," said Donna Harmon, Darryl's mother.
Darryl Harmon was then taken back into custody and was told a state error meant he had to return to prison.
"You can't make errors like this. This should have never happened," Donna Harmon said. "He followed their rules, done with what they asked him to do, then they reneged on him."
How did this happen?
"It was a misinterpretation. A miscalculation, if you will, of sentencing information based on the eligibility criteria," said Jason Woodall, TDOC deputy commissioner.
Woodall said the Department of Correction made a mistake in allowing the nine men, including Darryl Harmon, to even be allowed to enter the re-entry program in the first place.
Once those men successfully completed the program and were allowed to leave on probation, the state realized the mistake and returned them to prison.
"For their families, for these men, this is difficult. They got a taste of freedom, and now they're back in prison?" asked Channel 4's chief investigative reporter Jeremy Finley.
"I can see that, especially for the families, but the point to keep in mind, these offenders will be back in society soon. I think what the families want, what the offenders want, what the community wants, is a better prepared offender to live and function in society and be successful," Woodall said. "I understand what you're saying, that there were emotions involved. And to that, I regret that. And I would say we have taken steps to prevent that from happening again."
The bottom line for these men: They're back in prison until their sentences are complete.
The state said no employee was fired as a result of the error.
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