ANDERSON, Ind. — Anthony Short is the first to admit he needed to go to prison for what he did.
“There was a company I was working for and I was taking money from that company and once I was terminated from there I ended up stealing property from another place just to support my drug habit,” said Short. “I didn’t even realize how much I had been taking from the company. When I was sitting there in court and I learned the actual amount that I had taken, I was blown away.”
In 2019, Short pleaded guilty to stealing $67,000 from his employers, received a 6-year prison sentence with two years suspended and begged the judge for referral to a drug treatment program inside the Department of Correction.
Short got the time, but not the treatment.
“When that cell door first closes and you’re sitting there and you’re in prison, its this major reality of, ‘This is what life is’,” he said, remembering his first night in prison. “‘This is now my life for the next six years and there is nothing I can do about it and its my actions that put me here’.”
While in prison, Short completed his GED and literacy programs. He also participated in drug treatment, marking April 1, 2021, as his sobriety day.
That cooperation knocked 18 months off Short’s sentence and made him eligible for the Department of Correction’s Community Transition Program to finish out the last 90 days of his term back home in Anderson.
“My caseworker there at Putnamville ended up coming in and she was like, ‘You been granted CTP and you’re leaving Monday’,” he said.
Short said he was stunned by the news, but spent the weekend in early February arranging a place to stay in a sober living house, lining up a job and reconnecting with family in Madison County.
After nearly a month of going straight and concentrating on the six years of probation and restitution that lie ahead, Short learned in early March that someone else’s mistake was sending him back to DOC to serve out the last 50 days of his sentence.
“I was devastated, sitting there having to realize that I’m having to turn around and go back to prison,” said Short, “especially when I’m sitting there and I’ve done everything right.”
Madison Circuit Court Judge Andrew Hopper denied Short’s placement into CTP on Jan. 5. However, Short’s caseworker at Madison County Community Correction said she was unaware of the judge’s order, and it wasn’t until early March that she told the convicted father of two, just after a hearing where he argued to get visitation rights with his children, that he was going back to prison.
“‘What’s the true purpose of this?'” Short said he remembered thinking. “‘The only thing you’re affecting is my life, my childrens’ lives and the taxpayers’ money when there’s other things you could have done and other programs you could’ve put me in’.”
Short reached out to Fox59 News, which first investigated and reported his story on March 3, the day he was transported to the New Castle Correctional Facility.
“Within the first couple hours that I arrived, I was offered drugs,” he said. “I contacted you, I tried to contact a couple of attorneys, trying to find out what broke down in the system, what’s happening. And then the fact that, people need to know how messed up the system truly is.”
David Kane, executive director of Madison County Community Correction, told Fox59 News he was unsure where the miscommunication regarding the judge’s order originated. He also we will likely never know, as the caseworker involved in the mistake quit the next day and was unavailable for an explanation.
Kane said new procedures have been put in place to review future impending release reports from DOC and double check courts’ orders.
Short is back in the sober living house and returns to work Tuesday following his second release from prison last week.
“I’ve done jail, I’ve done prison, I know what it was about, what its like,” said Short, “and then having to turn around and go back to the system and that you lose absolutely everything.”
“People don’t understand how hard it is having everything taken away from you.”
Even when you’ve held up your end of the bargain.