- Associated Press - Thursday, June 26, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - One of dozens of inmates who were mistakenly released early after the state miscalculated their sentences is asking a judge to block prosecutors from sending him back to prison, arguing that he already served his minimum sentence.

Bruce Caton, 57, was sentenced as a habitual criminal after being convicted of burglary, meaning he had to serve the mandatory minimum of 10 years before he started earning “good time” credit on his 10- to 20-year sentence. Canton was released in October, which under corrected calculations was more than five years early.

He was among at least 60 prisoners released early because of miscalculations discovered during a month-long investigation by the Omaha World-Herald. At least two of those prisoners - a drug dealer and a robber - are back in custody for new crimes, and the Department of Correctional Services has said no more prisoners will be released until every sentence is checked.

Caton, who also has been convicted of rape, filed documents Tuesday in Lancaster County District Court asking that he be allowed to remain free pending the outcome of his case. He said he was no longer a risk and has found work as a flagman on a highway project south of Lincoln.

“The arguments are substantial issues in favor of a determination that he has served his sentence to completion,” Canton’s court filing said.

The Attorney General’s Office directed questions about Canton’s case to the Department of Corrections, which didn’t immediately return a message Thursday. The Associated Press couldn’t find a phone number for Canton, who is representing himself in the case.

In response to the incorrect sentences, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has laid out a plan to round up former inmates who should still be in prison. Prisoners who were erroneously released but would have finished their sentences by now would be allowed to remain free, as long as they hadn’t committed any new crimes.

State officials are discussing legal steps needed to retrieve the inmates. They have declined to say how many could be returned to prison, saying they needed to “triple check” their records. The corrections department initially said 101 inmates were released early, with breaks ranging from six months to 15 years. Heineman later said that number wasn’t accurate, but he declined to elaborate.

In an effort to correct the miscalculations, state officials have since added more than 1,300 combined years to the sentences of more than 300 prisoners.

Caton’s criminal past includes charges of burglary, kidnapping, rape and robbery, and he briefly escaped from prison in the 1980s. He acknowledged in the court filing that he was a registered sex offender from a crime committed in 1988, but said he was not hiding from his responsibilities.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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