[UPDATE] Woman Who Escaped Fla. Prison in 1975 Released

By: Jerry Askin, Lanetra Bennett Email
By: Jerry Askin, Lanetra Bennett Email

UPDATE - 04-01-2011 at 4:45pm by Jerry Askin

Earlier this year, we told you about a Florida woman who was re-captured after escaping from prison 35 years ago. Now, after serving some additional time and some good fortune, she's back home with her family.

Paula Carroll says, "I was thanking God and I was thinking it's cold out here."

That's the feeling Carroll says she felt Friday after being released from prison. Now, she plans to spend the rest of her life peacefully with her family and hopefully never behind bars again.

Her son Jeremy Brown says, "I'm happy, I'm glad she's home. We've been waiting for this for a long time and now that it's finally here it's exciting."

Paula Carroll was released Friday morning from the Gadsden Correctional Institute. She was originally serving a 5-year sentence on a stolen property charge when she escaped from a central Florida prison in September 1975.

Carroll was captured in April 2010 and taken back into custody. But after she escaped, she changed her life for the better.

Carroll says, "I made the decision. I could have gone with this group of people or this group of people, I could have stayed during drugs and I chose not to."

Ramon Brown says, "Like a little kid in a candy store."

That's how Carroll's husband felt when he saw his wife as a free woman Friday morning.

He says, "Very great feeling, I haven't felt anything so great since my kids were born."

Carroll's attorney says her previous charges were paroled and she was granted parole with an early release time. Now she says she's happy to reunite with her family and enjoy life as a free woman.

Carroll says, "I'm gonna go home and plant my garden because it's almost too late."

Carroll was sentenced to one year in prison for her escape and the Florida Parole Commission agreed to let her serve only 45% of her sentence, instead of the normal 85%.

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[UPDATE] 4-1 11:58am --

A woman who escaped from a Florida prison more than 35 years ago and was recaptured last year is now free.

This morning Paula Carroll was released from the Gadsden County Correctional Institute.

Carroll was serving a five year sentence on a stolen property charge when she escaped from a central Florida prison in September 1975.
She was taken back into custody in April 2010.

Last November, she was sentenced to one year in prison for her escape. Then just last week, Carroll was granted parole with an early release date and this 4/1 morning she was released.

Tonight on Eyewitness News, we'll hear from Carroll about her past and her plans for the future.

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UPDATE 3-25

Eyewitness News reported that the Florida Parole Commission recommended parole for Paula Carroll, who escaped from prison in 1975.

Friday, we were with her attorney when he told Carroll if the request was granted.

Attorney John Eagen calls his client about their request for early release.

"They won't go for that." Paula Carroll said over the phone. "You want to know what? Said, Eagen, "They did go for it and you're being released on Friday. I'm not kidding you, Paula."

Carroll was arrested in April 2010 and charged with escape.

The 55-year-old escaped from Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala, Florida back in 1975, and had been living a new life in South Florida for nearly 35 years.

Carroll's original five-year-sentence for dealing with stolen property was paroled.

But, last November, she was sentenced to one year for the escape.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011, The Florida Parole Commission recommended that she serve only 45 percent of her sentence, instead of the normal 85 percent.

The Florida Department of Corrections went with the recommendation.

On Friday, March 25, Eagen called Carroll, who's now in Gadsden Correctional Institution, with the news.

"Oh, my God." She said. Eagen said, "You're going to be released April 1st."

D.O.C. counted October as Carroll's parole date, giving her gain time.

"So, you're happy?" Eagen asked.

Carroll replied, "Oh, oh, yeah. Oh, gosh, the weirdest thing just popped in my head. What is that? I'll be home in time to plant okra."

Along with gardening, Carroll says she looks forward to seeing her family.

"Oh, my gosh. Oh, John, you are great. Oh, no, God is great."

Eagen says there are no conditions to Carroll's parole.

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UPDATE 3-24

John Eagen, the attorney for Paula Carroll, told WCTV that his client
will be out of prison on April 1, 2011.

Eagen says the Department of Corrections (DOC) agreed with the Florida Parole Commission's recommendations of making Carroll serve only 45 percent of her sentence instead of the standard 85 percent.

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The case of 55-year old Paula Carroll was before the Florida Parole Commission again this morning. She was sentenced to one year in prison because of her escape, but it's up to the Department of Corrections to decide if she'll get out sooner.

Ramon Brown walked out the doors of the Florida Parole Commission more at ease Wednesday after hearing what he describes as good news for his wife.

Brown says, "I've been under a lot of stress, doctor's care, everything like that, and from what they've told me today, it kind of healed my heart a little bit."

Brown's wife, Paula Carroll, was serving a five year sentence for buying, receiving or concealing stolen property when she escaped from what is now the Lowell Correctional Institute in September 1975.

After escaping, she changed her identity and was living under the name Sharon Brown. But, Brown says in April 2010, his wife was captured at her Melbourne home and taken back into custody.

Brown says, "She's done nothing but helped people for 35 years and she says until the day she's not here on Earth she's going to do nothing but help people."

Last November, she was sentenced to one year in prison for her escape and her previous charges were paroled.

Carroll's attorney, John Eagen says during her time out of prison, she was a pillar in her community who volunteered to help others. And now she deserves justice.

Eagen says, "We're putting somebody out there that's not a detriment to society, but actually a benefit to it, and I think the parole commission realizes that as well."

Today, the commission restructured Carroll's previous parole, but she still has to serve her one year sentence which will be up this November.

Carroll's attorney says she could possibly be out of prison in the coming months based on her gain time or time for good behavior served while in prison.


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