Rosemount inmate's early-release suit moot - she was ineligible

  • Article by: PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 29, 2011 - 9:58 AM

Her assault conviction and the one-year sentence disqualified her from both work and home-confinement programs.

Never mind.

A Rosemount woman has dropped a lawsuit she filed against Dakota County Sheriff Dave Bellows claiming she wasn't allowed to participate in early-release jail programs because of her gender.

It turns out it wasn't her gender that kept her from getting out of jail early. It was her crime.

Felicia R. Reinke, 25, was convicted last May of felony second-degree assault for stabbing her boyfriend and was sentenced in June to a year in jail. For monetary reasons, the Dakota County jail houses its long-term female inmates at the Ramsey County workhouse.

Reinke filed suit in September in Ramsey County District Court claiming that because she was a Dakota County prisoner, she was not eligible for Ramsey County's early-release programs, which could have reduced her sentence by about a third. And because she was held in Ramsey County, she wasn't eligible for Dakota County's programs, either. The lawsuit also named Ramsey County Sheriff Matt Bostrom as a defendant.

"A male inmate housed in Dakota County can reduce his sentence significantly by participating" in early release, the lawsuit said.

But wait.

Because Reinke was convicted of a crime of violence, she was not eligible for the sentence-to-service programs in either county. Sentence-to-service provides work crews of inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes to local nonprofit and community organizations. And because she was sentenced to a year in jail, she also was not eligible for home confinement, an electronic monitoring program for offenders given 20- to 150-day sentences.

When Dakota County District Judge Edward Lynch sentenced Reinke on June 1, he allowed for a monthlong furlough to allow time for her second child to be born. That child was born in September. According to county records, Reinke's furlough has been extended until March.

Ramsey County District Judge Elena Ostby signed the order for dismissal of the lawsuit last week.

Reinke was represented by attorneys from the Legal Aid for Minnesota Prisoners organization at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. Neither she nor her attorney, Brad Colbert, could be reached for comment.

Pat Pheifer • 952-746-3284

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