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Clark County

February 12, 2008

Paige Grable released from prison

The former Providence High School student convicted of driving drunk and causing an accident that killed a classmate was released from prison Monday.

Paige Grable, 19, served less than nine months of a 30-month sentence at the minimum-security Madison Correctional Facility for the death of John Gatz, 16, in October 2006. The accident, during which Grable’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit at .16 percent, also injured 17-year-old Providence High student Sarah Barnes.

Grable will not be allowed to drive for two years and must complete 18 months of supervised probation.

She was expected to serve approximately 15 months in prison, as Indiana typically reduces inmates’ sentences in half for good behavior. Grable also received time off her sentence for earning her GED while incarcerated.

Grable nearly was released in October, after having time shaved from her sentence for earning the GED and her high school diploma. Upon further investigation into the education-credit regulations, however, she was denied early release and ordered to remain in prison for four more months.

Grable’s case has spurred consideration of a bill in the Indiana General Assembly that would bar any possibility of prisoners being credited time for earning both a GED and a high school diploma. Rep. Steve Stemler, D-Jeffersonville, testified last month in front of the House Education Committee that the bill was the result of Grable nearly being released from prison early for earning both diplomas. The bill moved forward, with Sen. Connie Sipes, D-New Albany, as its sponsor.

Sipes said in a telephone interview Monday the bill is still active and awaiting an additional hearing.

“We wanted to go ahead and try to get this bill going so confusion like what happened in October with the Grable and Gatz families won’t happen again,” Sipes said. “I’ve been in touch with both families and it has been an ordeal for everyone involved. It has affected them all horribly.”

Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson declined to comment on Grable’s release. Grable’s attorney, George Gesenhues of New Albany, did not return a telephone call as of publication deadline.

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