PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — They witnessed the murder of their mother and grandmother by their estranged father more than 25 years ago, but now the state parole board is letting him out of prison.
His two daughter say it’s all part of a larger problem — the release of violent criminals in an effort to reduce the inmate population in the Pennsylvania prison system.
In April of 1991, two sisters, Kristi and Kelly, were sitting in the backseat of the family car when their estranged father, William Lane, opened the door and fired 15 rounds from a semiautomatic rifle, massacring their mother and grandmother in the front seat.
“I don’t think anyone can sort of fully comprehend what that looks like, feels like, smells like, and those images are seared into your brain,” Kristi Lane Scott. “And never leave you.”
Twenty-five years later, the Pennsylvania Parole Board has voted to release William over his daughters’ strong objections.
“I feel like this is a dupe and a sham on Pennsylvania taxpayers and citizens in this state, because, not only are they releasing horrible criminals, like my biological father, but they are releasing so many others,” Kelly Lane Perez said.
The sisters say they are sounding an alarm, not only about the Parole Board, but the move to reduce prison populations across the state.
The Wolf Administration says that since 2012, the inmate population has declined by 6.4 percent, or 3,320 inmates, allowing for the last year’s closure of SCI Pittsburgh, and what it calls significant cost savings. But the two sisters says the state is placing money over lives.
“I think the state of Pennsylvania is in favor of balancing their budget as opposed to balancing the safety of their community,” Kristi said.
Even though the two sisters testified in each of the past six years, the state Parole Board voted for Lane’s release, citing positive institutional behavior and low risk to the community.
Leo Dunn, the chairman of the board, said he could not go further in discussing the case, but said the parole board has been releasing 58 percent of those eligible, and that percentage hasn’t changed in three decades.
“We make decisions independently. The Parole Board is an independent decision-making body,” said Dunn. “We are still paroling people at the same rate that the board has paroled people for 30-plus years.”
But Washington County District Attorney Eugene Vittone supports attentive sentence and treatment for non-violent and addicted inmates, but not violent criminals like Lane.
“Lately, I do have some concerns that were turning out people that may be more dangerous. Mainly because we’re looking at the cost effect on the overall budget,” Vittone said. “I really think we have to look at the potential for danger that these people raise.”
Despite their pleas, William will likely be released this weekend from the State Correctional Institution at Mercer. But even though he’ll be walking the streets as a free man, his daughters have vowed to continue their fight to keep violent criminals behind bars in Pennsylvania
The Parole Board was also acting on input from the state Department of Corrections, which recommended William’s release. In a statement, they denied that budget constraints had anything to do with it.