Crime

Man freed by software glitch heads back to prison: ‘Like starting out with nothing again’

10-year old Kaden, left, knows his father, David Jennings, might have to return to jail to serve three months due to a mistake made by the state, having already served 10 years. Despite having served nearly his entire prison term, David Jennings is being ordered back to jail for three additional months due to the state’s error in calculating his sentence. Jennings had been narrowing in on starting his own business. Now, those monies may go toward his legal bills.
10-year old Kaden, left, knows his father, David Jennings, might have to return to jail to serve three months due to a mistake made by the state, having already served 10 years. Despite having served nearly his entire prison term, David Jennings is being ordered back to jail for three additional months due to the state’s error in calculating his sentence. Jennings had been narrowing in on starting his own business. Now, those monies may go toward his legal bills. The Seattle Times

Officers showed up at David Jennings’ Renton home Sunday near the end of the Seahawks game.

Even though the soft-spoken 33-year-old had been free since July, they had a warrant to bring him back to prison.

Turns out Jennings — who says he served a decade in prison in connection with a drive-by shooting — is one of the state’s mistakes.

He’s among up to 3,200 prisoners released early since 2002 because of a software error.

Now, law enforcement officials are rounding up offenders who still have time to serve.

Even though he’s reconnected with his family and two children, and has been working hard and saving money while living with his parents, he was told he’d have to surrender Monday night to go back to prison until March.

The officers Sunday gave his mother, Julie Jennings, the bad news.

“It’s like a nightmare to me,” said the 59-year-old woman, adding later: “They said that if he had been here, they would have taken him immediately.”

But he wasn’t home. He was hustling through a shift at a P.F. Chang’s restaurant in Bellevue, where he’s been employed since he got out on work release this year.

A manager there described him as “great” and “really positive.”

“Really nice, loves people,” Cameron Rosenthal said. “He’s great to be around.”

With the warrant, he found himself having to explain to his boss that he’d be going away.

The job helped him prepare for his freedom. It filled his bank account with the savings needed so he could pursue his dream of starting a tattoo business and art gallery.

Standing in his home Monday night, hours before his surrender, he was surrounded by pencil sketches and oil paintings he made in prison, lush portraits of women and warriors.

Looking at his art, he thought back to his arrest, saying, “I was just a kid.” A decade is a long time to a man in his 30s.

In the other room, his parents, children and relatives gathered by a Christmas tree. Instead of a lazy holiday-season evening, it’s a rush of goodbyes-for-now.

“It’s going to be really, really tough, like starting out with nothing again,” he said. “But I guess I did it once, I could do it again.”

Seattle Times staff reporter Jennifer Sullivan contributed to this report, which also includes information from The Seattle Times archives.

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