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Governor Branstad Calls For Review of Criminal Sentencing

DES MOINES, Iowa (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- It can be hard to understand why certain convicts walk around freely.

"The public is very confused about this, and especially, the victims are," said Fred Scaletta, Iowa Department of Corrections assistant director.

Take for instance Michael Klunder, a convicted kidnapper who police said abducted two more girls just last month. One of them escaped. The other, Kathlynn Shepard, was found dead Friday.

Klunder's sentence for taking a 21-year-old woman and two 3-year-old girls in the 90s was 41 years.

He cut that sentence in half through a system of 'earned time'.

For each day a prisoner serves, 1.2 days are taken off the back end of the sentences, as long as they participate in the required programs and don't cause other issues.

"What we're trying to do is make them a better person going out the door than when they came in," Scaletta said.

But the DOC realizes some bad apples still make it through. The parole board denied Klunder's request three times, but because of earned time, he eventually served his sentence, which meant release with no supervision.

"There's nothing we can do when it gets to a point where they have to walk out the door," Scaletta said.

Now, Gov. Terry Branstad, (R) Iowa, wants to see change in provisions that reduce sentences for criminals.

"I think it is appropriate that we review these provisions, especially as it affects violent sexual predators," Gov. Branstad said.

Klunder was not a sex offender, so the state couldn't monitor him any longer.

"As we follow the law, the statutes, the way they are written, quite often people aren't going to agree with that," Scaletta said.

The Shepard family and others are pushing lawmakers to expand stricter laws not just to sex predators, but anyone who commits crime against children.


Previous story below:

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Gov. Terry Branstad says Iowa should review criminal sentencing rules in the wake of the killing of a teenage girl.
   Branstand made the comments Monday, just days after the body of 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard was found Friday night in the Des Moines River. Authorities say she and a friend were kidnapped last month in Dayton by registered sex offender Michael Klunder.
   Klunder hanged himself after the younger girl got away. He was released from prison in 2011, after serving 20 years for convictions in two separate Iowa kidnappings that occurred on back-to-back days in December 1991.
   Branstad says it's appropriate to review the state's sentencing provisions. He notes Klunder was turned down for parole several time before being freed, but could only be held for so long under state law.

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