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Florida Department of Corrections says it has no control over when inmates are released

Posted: 11:32 PM, Aug 12, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-12 23:44:36-04
James Hanson 2

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Corrections tells the I-Team it has no control over when inmates are released. This comes after suspect James Hanson confessed to killing a local grandfather in a carjacking just a month after his release from prison.

The I-Team has been digging into the system that led to Hanson's early release.

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Prison officials told I-Team Investigator Kylie McGivern they had no choice but to release Hanson three years before his full 20-year sentence was up.

In 2003, a jury convicted Hanson of robbery with a firearm and sentenced him to life in prison. Hanson appealed that sentence in 2016, claiming ineffective counsel. His sentence was then reduced to 20 years and he was released July 2.

In an email, a spokesperson with the Department of Corrections said, "He was not released 'early.' Mr. Hanson was released when his sentence was completed, in accordance with Florida law."

The Department of Corrections said state law forces them to release prisoners with good behavior credit called "gain-time," as long as they serve at least 85 percent of their sentence.

According to the agency, Hanson was only scheduled to receive up to 10 days days of good behavior credit per month under prison rules. Prison records obtained by the I-Team show Hanson received nearly 1,000 good behavior days over a 10-day period in 2016.

A spokesperson said it was a bookkeeping update, made after Hanson's sentence was reduced on appeal. The I-Team has asked for more details on the days Hanson earned and is waiting to hear back.

Last week, the I-Team reported Hanson got out of prison early on good behavior and was on probation, despite disciplinary issues documented in prison records. Hanson was cited 20 times for disciplinary issues behind bars over the last 16 years. Battery, possession of contraband, weapons and drug use are all noted in his file. Hanson was put in disciplinary confinement 28 times, including six weeks before his release.

Hanson is back behind bars after deputies say he robbed a Valrico bank, then carjacked and killed local grandfather Mathew Korattiyil just weeks after his release from prison on an earlier bank robbery conviction.