The system was prisoner's out-of-jail card.

Author:Ring, Kim

Byline: Kim Ring

WEST BOYLSTON -- When a person is sentenced to two years in the house of correction, one might expect he'd serve 24 months, but in reality, laws in Massachusetts allow inmates to shorten their sentences with credit for good behavior, time served and participation in jail programming -- some can even earn credit to be applied to their sentences before they've appeared in court.

Such is the case with Brian E. Gernrich, 45, who, it seems, wasn't even aware he was due to be released from jail last week when he appeared before Judge Margaret Guzman in Western Worcester District Court in East Brookfield seeking to have his 2-year sentence revised and revoked and to be freed on probation.

The judge denied Mr. Gernrich's motion, saying he hadn't completed a program she recommended at the jail and his record caused her concern. Not only was it lengthy, she noted, but the stack of paper it is printed on has weight.

The very next evening he was released.

During the hearing before Judge Guzman, a woman who was a victim in another case against Mr. Gernrich asked for, and was denied, a restraining order. The judge said that since Mr. Gernrich was incarcerated there was no need for the order. It does not appear, after a review of court records, that the victim later sought an order after learning of his release.

Mr. Gernrich was sentenced in January to 2 years committed in the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction under a plea agreement in a burglary case. He was charged with breaking and entering in the daytime and placing a person in fear, malicious destruction of property, larceny of property valued at less than $250 and threatening to commit a crime.

Paxton police said he broke into a Paxton home on Sept. 23, 2012, and was stealing copper pipe when the homeowners arrived and confronted him and chased him, stopping when Mr. Gernrich jumped out a window and threatened to shoot them. DNA from blood found on some of the stolen pipes matched that of Mr. Gernrich, the police report states.

His sentence in the case was back-dated, known legally as nunc pro tunc, to start on Nov. 8, 2013 -- the same date his sentence in another case started -- and to run concurrently, according to court documents.

He was already jailed on another matter and earning good time at a rate of 10 days per month, which, according to state law, would be applied to his new...

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