Virginia Gov. Mills E. Godwin has turned down the pardon request of a 25-year-old prisoner who began a new life as a trainee mechanic in Texas after he was mistakenly released by Virginia correctional authorities.
Godwin said he concurred with the recommendation of the state parole board, which recommended that the prisoner, Allen Hensley of Madison County, be subject to "the usual parole procedures."
Hensley, who was convicted on three drug charges in 1975, was sent to the Tagewell County correctional unit after voluntarily returning from Texas.
Hensley, whose wife and 1-year-old son are in Texas, will be eligible for parole in March. Sentenced by a Madison County judge to 6 1/2 years imprisonment, with three years suspended, he now has served about a year, including time since his return to Virginia.
He had been behind bars about eight months when, in October, 1975, he was released by officials at the Fluvanna correctional unit near Troy, where he was serving his sentence.
According to his attorney, Scott W. Williams of the Albermarle-Charlottesville Legal Aid Society, Hensley questioned his release, saying he had more time to serve. The Fluvanna officials checked with the State Department of Corrections, whose records showed that Hensley had served his full sentence.
The department apparently did not have an accurate record of Hensley's three sentences on drug convictions - five years for intent to sell the hallucinogen PCP, one year for possession of marijuana and six months for possession of drug paraphernalia.
After his release, Hensley went with his family to Beaumont, Tex., where his wife's parents live, and got a job as a trainee mechanic at the Myron Gray Chrysler Center.
Larry E. King-general operations manager at the auto dealership, said hensley was a "good employee with an excellent attitude . . . We would rehire him. If we're fully staffed, I'll get him a job somewhere else in town."
After Virginia correctional authorities realized their mistake 11 months after releasing Hensley, voluntarily returned to Virginia, hoping he would win a pardon and be able to redeem his life in Texas.
However, even if he is paroled in March, Hensley may have a problem getting back to Texas because he used up all his savings for the trip to Virginia, according to his attorney.
While working in Texas for nine months, hensley repaid $1,000 of the $1,400 that his parents, whos live in the town of Madison, spent on his legal fees during his criminal trial.
Godwin, who issued his denial in a letter to Williams, said he was largely influenced by the sentencing judge's "rather drastic reduction of Mr. Hensley's sentence."
Godwin was involved in a similar case late last month when the state of Michigan refused to extradite to Virginia a 27-year-old prison escapee who had served only one day of his nine-year sentence (with eight years suspended) for possession of marijuana with intent to sell. The man, Alfred Odell Martin, fled to "Detroit in February, 1974, and has been employeed there as a consumer representative with the federal Food and Drug Administration.
Virginia authorities discovered his whereabouts after he was stopped in Detroit for making an illegal traffic turn.