Families And DA Furious Over Possible Inmate Furloughs
by Nick Beres
RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. - Two convicted killers could be released from prison years early simply because they became ill.
District Attorney Mike Bottoms said he couldn't believe an illness could erase a 75 year prison sentence from what he called a "violent" inmate.
"He's a very violent person," said District Attorney Mike Bottoms, referring to Daniel Crow. Crow has been serving a 75-year-sentence for, among other things, second degree murder.
Bottoms said Crow was recently was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Medical furloughs have been rare over the years, with only eleven granted in the past decade. The Tennessee Department of Corrections is considering two in the month of February.
The other inmate is Travis Dobson. The SUV he was driving hit and killed Eddie Ward in 2010. Dobson, who tested positive for marijuana and methamphetamine, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, and received a 12-year-sentence.
Ward's family learned this week Dobson, who is a paraplegic, is under consideration for a medical furlough after serving barely more than a year.
"For this person to serve 16 months is an insult to our family and to Eddie," said his widow Arden Ward.
Bottoms questioned the public safety of moving such inmates out of prisons and into assisted living facilities that are not as secure. Inmates on medical furlough remain under the supervision of probation and parole officers.
A spokesperson for The Tennessee Department of Corrections said that public safety is the first priority in considering any furlough. The department did issue a statement outlining the medical furlough process.
The statement read, in part: "Medical furlough is the transfer from supervision inside a Department of Correction prison to supervision under the department's probation/parole division for medical reasons. In order to be considered for a furlough, inmates must have a severe physical/mental deterioration that causes them to no longer be able to take care of themselves in the prison environment or they must be in imminent peril of death with a prognosis of death within a year or less."
There have been 18 applications for medical furlough since 2003. Seven were denied. Six died just months after their furlough. Four remain on furlough and one was returned to prison.
No decision has been reached on the applications from Crow and Dobson.