Rapist back in prison

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 27, 2008

SICILY ISLAND — A man convicted of rape in Mississippi who was furloughed to Catahoula Parish is now back behind bars.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who signed an order Dec. 17, to release prisoner Leslie Bowlin into the custody of his parents in Sicily Island, revoked the 90-day pass on Friday.

Bowlin was released into the custody of his parents in Sicily Island for the sole purpose of psychiatric evaluation.

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The order states that though Bowlin is under his parents’ custody, he “shall be under the supervision of the Mississippi Department of Corrections during and throughout the period of this temporary release as though on parole and all rules and regulations shall apply.”

During the 90-day furlough, Bowlin was supposed to be confined to his parents’ house and subject to electronic monitoring. The only leniency he was given to leave the house was to travel to Mississippi for psychiatric evaluation.

Even though it works on the same conditions, a furlough is not probation or a pardon, and at the end of it a prisoner is expected to report back to state custody.

The problem is that Louisiana authorities were not notified of Bowlin’s furlough, and it is not a situation that happens very often, Louisiana Attorney General’s Office Public Information Officer Tammi Arender said.

“Our probation and parole folks were saying we didn’t really know anything about it until (Bowlin) went to the Sheriff’s Office and said, ‘I’m a sex offender and I’m here,’” Arender said.

By notifying local authorities of his presence, Bowlin did something many others might not have, Arender said.

“Some people in that situation might have said, ‘I have got freedom — I’m gone.’”

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood wrote to Barbour on Wednesday asking for the furlough to be retracted.

Arender confirmed Friday that Bowlin is back behind bars.

He is currently being held at the Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Office and should be returned to Mississippi by Sunday.

Bowlin was sentenced to life plus 25 years in 1991 for the kidnaping and raping of a Missisippi University student.