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A data processing glitch in Michigan has resulted in the early release of some inmates and the prolonged incarceration of others. The cock-up came to light after a state audit revealed errors in the release date of 23 prisoners between October 2003 and March 2005, local broadcaster WLNS reports.

Eight prisoners doing time for crimes including embezzlement, cheque fraud and drug offences were released from state prisons between 39 to 161 days early, according to the audit. A flaw in computer programming is been blamed for the release date errors.

The number of people affected only represent a small percentage of the overall prison population in the state but local politicians are still understandably concerned. "I'm glad it's not murderers. Obviously the category of crimes, the bad check [cheque] writers and the drug people, we still don't want those folks to get out early," said state assembly representative Rick Jones of the Michigan State Legislature. "Eight people is too many. I understand the department found another 15, that's too many, even one is too many."

The Department of Corrections told WLNS that it had taken action to fix the computer glitch. ®

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