America got it’s first extensive look at Lisa Owens last night on the OWN Network show, “Breaking Down the Bars.” Owens, who is serving a Voluntary Manslaughter sentence at the Rockville Correctional Facility, is due to be released in May under a sentence modification.
Owens was convicted of killing her husband Jeff in their Knox home in 2001. She was sentenced to 40 years.
Last night, the audience saw her attempt at a reconciliation with her dead husband’s stepmother, Gail. She was looking for forgiveness, while Gail was looking for answers. In the end, there was no reconciliation.
Dr. Stephanie Covington, an Addiction-Trauma Specialist at the facility, talked with Owens after her meeting with Gail. She pointed out why Gail would feel her efforts were not genuine and lacked regret.
After her interview with Lisa, Mrs. Covington ended with, “She has always been a mystery to me.”
We thought it might be interesting to hear how a woman originally sentenced to 40 years for a shooting death, could be released in 10 years.
Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff has reviewed the case since taking office, and gives us an idea of how she received a modified sentence.
“The way her plea agreement was drafted, she had the right to petition for a modification,” explained Bourff. “The State of Indiana also had the right to object to any of her petitions. She filed on more than one occasion and on every occasion, the State objected to it. In 2007, there was a hearing on one of her petitions for modification, the State objected to it and the Judge’s position was as long as the State objects, there can not be a modification.”
But that was appealed.
“This was appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals and they disagreed. They said it’s up to the Judge. If the Judge wants to modify it, he can do that. Although Judge Kim Hall is on the bench, he was not able to participate as the Judge in this because he was the inital Prosecutor. It was sent to a special Judge, Judge Kickbush, and in November of 2008, he granted the modification.”
Prosecutor Bourff was asked if she will be monitored after her release in May.
“I was notified at the end of January that Ms. Owens was getting out and the Department of Corrections wants to her to do what is called a Community Transition Program. I brought myself up to speed on what exactly that involves. I can see the benefit in doing it because it does not change a defendant’s release date. It doesn’t even change the fact that the Indiana Department of Corrections still has jurisdiction over someone. It is simply a phasing process, whereby they’re released from prison, but they’re kept on home detention for a period of time. In this case, it’s only 30 days, prior to her actual release date.”
We asked Prosecutor Bourff if the transition period will be served in Starke County.
“No, she will actually be doing her home detention month in Carroll County with her sister. Their Community Corrections Program was notified of this two or three months ago and had they not approved her, then the second choice would have been Starke County. Carroll County’s Community Corrections did approve her so they will be doing the monitoring during the period of time she’s on home detention.”
Bourff said it’s been frustrating to him that she is getting out, but his hands are tied.
“It’s been frustrating for me because I know the opinions of many people around here and how they feel about this modification and I was elected to serve the people here and work toward the interest of justice. Especially in a case like this, when the general consensus in the community is aligned with what my own sense of justice is, it’s frustrating not being able to do anything about it. My hands are tied at this point with her case and there’s really nothing I can do about that.”