Florida Parole Board reconsiders parole for 'prison Houdini'

Photo: WJHG
Published: Jul. 13, 2016 at 8:03 AM EDT
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By: Associated Press

July 13, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida parole officials are trying to find a way to help a man described as an autistic savant and a "prison Houdini," whose troubles behind bars have turned a four-year theft sentence into a virtual life term.

55-year-old Mark DeFriest was convicted 36 years ago of stealing the tools his father had bequeathed to him. His time was extended because he kept escaping.

Florida Parole officials voted in 2014 to reduce his sentence, but a mix-up delayed his release to Aug. 23. Now disciplinary problems in the Oregon prison where he's held in solitary could keep him behind bars.

Two of the three parole board members agreed Wednesday to speed his transfer under conditions they plan to set on Thursday.