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COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – Brian Lansing Martin is facing multiple capital murder charges for the shooting death of William Mealback Jr. and Sheffield Police Sgt. Nick Risner. The case against him has been bound over to a grand jury.

New 19’s investigative team has been looking into the puzzling issue of how Martin was released from prison in 2016 only three years into his 10-year sentence for manslaughter.

Sheffield Police Chief Ricky Terry was especially critical of Martin’s early release. He wrote in a letter, “The justice system has failed tremendously. If that coward (Martin) would have still been in prison serving his ten years, that would not have happened. So I encourage every one of you to go to your representatives in Montgomery. Something’s got to change.”

The process of getting Martin’s prison records was cumbersome and expensive, the Department of Corrections charged $221 for the public records, including $25 to file a records request for consideration. We were charged $1 per page and got the records more than two months after our request.

The records show Martin was placed in a position of trust early on, driving a van for the other inmates. But, what’s not quite clear, is why he was given so many “good time” credits for his early release given that he faced multiple discipline issues.

Based on the good time math, 75 days for every 30 days served, he received the equivalent of model prisoner credits.

However, the review of the records shows he was involved in what prison officials labeled major discipline incidents where he faced punishment and loss of good time.

Martin was disciplined in:

  • January 2015 for possession of contraband – he lost 10 days of good time
  • May 2015 cited for possession of unauthorized drugs – he lost a month of good time
  • May 2015 got in a fight and put another inmate in the hospital – he lost 3 months of good time
  • June 2015 cited for failing to obey a guard’s direct order – he lost a month of good time

The records review also showed some troubling remarks by prison officials in charge of inmate placement decisions, including Martin’s.

“Violent offender who was involved in a fight when previously assigned to Alex City. While awaiting reclass, a disciplinary was received for Failure to Obey. Will EOS in less than four months but continuous violence is a concern. Try a gradual reduction,” one Central Review Board member said.

Another review board member said, “Agree with CRB 1 that Martin has somewhat of a tendency to engage in aggressive behavior in prison and on the street. He has completed Anger Management once but another round would most likely be beneficial. Min out is approved based solely due to system needs.”

That review board member went on to say, “Martin must complete AM [Anger Management] at Draper and then move to Atmoer or Decatur with on property assignment until he hoes home on 5/1/2016.”

A third review member said they were also concerned about continuous violence.

Martin’s prison file also notes that he completed a number of classes that appear aimed at helping prisoners change their behaviors.

His file shows he received a Certificate of Completion in “Institution Behavior Modification Classes” for:

  • “Stress Management”
  • “Values Clarification”
  • “Self Concept Enhancement”
  • “Domestic Violence”
  • “Anger Management”
  • “Personal Development Workshop”
  • “Reality Therapy”
  • “Depression”
  • “Institutional Pre Release and Re-Entry Program”

The Department of Corrections told News 19 when we first requested this information that inmates who receive good time and don’t lose time to discipline incidents serve about a third of their sentence.

The prison records reviewed show Marin had lost five months and 10 days of good time from discipline incidents. That time was restored in February 2016 and he was released three months later.

Nearly seven years early. The Alabama prison system is tremendously overcrowded. In 2016, the year Martin was released, ADOC records show the system had 22,963 inmates in custody, it was designed to hold 13,318 inmates.  

The only note in the prison records that seems to explain all of this — inside Alabama’s tremendously overcrowded prison system — came from the review board comment, “Minimum out is approved based solely due to system needs.”