Corrections department says missing paperwork led to early inmate release

2012-04-13T06:00:00Z 2012-06-27T19:49:09Z Corrections department says missing paperwork led to early inmate releaseBy JOSHUA WOLFSON Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

Police continued to search Thursday for a Wyoming inmate who was released early from prison because of missing paperwork.

Corrections officials, meanwhile, offered new details on why they released Arthur Penrod before he served time for a brutal beating in Casper.

Penrod left the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins on Tuesday after completing a four-year sentence for an earlier burglary. He was supposed to serve an additional five to seven years in prison for aiding in an assault that occurred last April.

The Wyoming Department of Corrections blamed the early release on a missing sentencing document.

The department’s central records office received Penrod’s sentencing paperwork. But a second copy never arrived at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington, the intake prison for the state corrections system, explained department spokesman Tim Lockwood.

The two data systems are separate, and prison officials were unaware that Penrod should have remained behind bars after he completed the burglary sentence.

Corrections officials don’t know why Penrod’s papers made it to the central office in Cheyenne but weren’t received by the prison in Torrington, Lockwood said. Sentencing documents are normally mailed from the county where the criminal case was prosecuted.

“I can’t say it wasn’t mailed because I don’t know that for sure,” Lockwood said. “I just know it wasn’t received.”

Lockwood said he didn’t know whether documents were sent via certified mail.

The department has begun an internal investigation to determine what happened and to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

Corrections officials will likely change their procedures so that workers who process information at the central office automatically send the data to the Torrington prison and the state’s parole agency.

State law requires county sheriffs to furnish the Corrections Department with a copy of a defendant’s sentence. In practice, the paperwork is usually sent by the clerks of county courts, said Lockwood.

Gen Tuma, the clerk of District Court in Natrona County, said her office has never sent sentencing information to the Corrections Department.

Natrona County Sheriff Mark Benton wasn’t available late Thursday afternoon.

Penrod, 28, is currently classified as a “felon at large,” Lockwood said. He could potentially face further charges for not turning himself in, although that decision would be made by the district attorney.

Natrona County District Attorney Michael Blonigen was also not available late Thursday afternoon at his office.

Penrod has ties to Casper. Police there were working with other agencies to find him, said Chief Chris Walsh.

“We don’t have any place right now where we have got him pinned down,” Walsh said.

A judge sentenced Penrod for the assault last August. The felon admitted to arriving and leaving with the assailant and preventing someone from aiding the victim, who was repeatedly struck in the head with a pipe by a second man.

At the time of the attack, Penrod was on parole for an unrelated burglary. After his arrest in the assault case, the parole board required him to finish the remainder of the burglary penalty. The assault sentence should have immediately followed the other sentence.

Staff writer Jeremy Pelzer contributed to this report.

Contact Joshua Wolfson at 307-266-0582 or at josh.wolfson@trib.com. Visit http://trib.com/news/opinion/blogs/wolfjammies to read his blog. Follow him on Twitter @joshwolfson.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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