1 of dozens of Nebraska inmates wrongly released early loses court bid to remain free

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LINCOLN, Nebraska — One of dozens of Nebraska inmates whom the state mistakenly released early after miscalculating their sentences has lost his court bid to remain free.

Bruce Caton, 57, had asked a judge to prevent the state from sending him back to prison, arguing that he had already served the minimum of his 10- to 20-year sentence.

Online court records show that Lancaster County District Judge Robert Otte denied Caton's bid on Friday.

Caton was sentenced in 2004 as a habitual criminal after being convicted of burglary, meaning he had to serve the mandatory minimum of 10 years before he could start earning "good time" credit. Caton was released in October, which was more than five years early, according to the corrected calculations. He was among at least 60 prisoners released early because of miscalculations discovered during a monthlong investigation by the Omaha World-Herald.

Caton acknowledged in his court filing that he was a registered sex offender from a crime committed in 1988, but he said he was not hiding from his responsibilities. He also said he had found work as a flagman on a highway project south of Lincoln.

Judge Otte said in his ruling that a trial court couldn't modify a valid sentence once it's pronounced.

Plus, Otte said, Caton had filed a habeas corpus challenge, alleging he was being illegally detained. At the time, he wasn't in custody. He is now.

"The court finds that the petition filed by the plaintiff does not present a justiciable issue for determination by the court," Otte said.

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