Kentucky Corrections Commissioner Fined, But Won't Go To Jail

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky Corrections Commissioner John Rees, found in contempt of court for refusing to release an inmate has been fined $500 but won't go to jail.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman also ordered Rees to pay the inmate's attorney's fees.

She and Rees disagreed over her order to release an 18-year-old inmate who had been convicted of first-degree assault. Rees claimed the inmate was ineligible for shock probation, which allows inmates to be released after serving 30 to 180 days, because he had been convicted of a violent crime.

McDonald-Burkman said her in her ruling Wednesday that Rees "never took any steps to obey" her order to release Daniel Ottman.

The Justice and Public Safety Cabinet said it plans to ask the judge to reconsider her decision, The Courier-Journal reported. But Jeff Middendorf, the cabinet's general counsel, said if Rees disagrees with future court orders, he will allow the cabinet's attorneys to address it in court.

"In the future, we'll respectfully disagree and follow the court's order," Middendorf said.

Rees did not return a phone call to his office seeking comment.

Ottman's lawyer said it's not for Rees or the Department of Corrections to decide whether a judge's order is correct.

"All he has to do is follow court orders," Eggert said of Rees.

Kentucky law does not allow adult inmates convicted of violent offenses to be granted shock probation. But the Kentucky Court of
Appeals found in 2006 that juvenile offenders could be eligible. The state Supreme Court is reviewing that decision.

Ottman was 15 at the time of his arrest.

This is at least the second time in recent months that Rees has refused a Jefferson County Circuit Court judge's order to release a juvenile inmate on shock probation.

Ottman was released a week after the judge's June 19 shock probation order.

Ottman is on home incarceration for the next six months, a condition of his shock probation release ordered by McDonald-Burkman, then will be on "high supervision" by probation and parole officials.

Information from: The Courier-Journal,

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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