Robbery suspect 'walked away' from halfway house with 16 years remaining on sentence


by Adam Walser

Posted on September 27, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 27 at 6:48 PM

(WHAS11) -- A convicted felon serving a 40-year sentence escaped state custody and then went on a crime spree, including an armed bank robbery.

James Lang, 60, now faces a long list of new charges, but why was he able to walk away in the first place?

Lang has spent most of his adult life behind bars, after being convicted of 25 crimes, including six robberies.

Despite serving as much time as some murderers, we discovered Lang has had plenty of breaks from the Department of Corrections and the Kentucky Parole Board in the past, but continues to re-offend.

“Just put me on TV. Just drag me out like that. That's terrible,” James Lang said, as he was rolled into arraignment court in a wheelchair.

Since 1983, Lang has spent most of his life behind bars after being convicted of six counts of robbery.

But even though Lang was released early a half-dozen times by the parole board, he blew every chance and was returned to custody for new violations.

After his latest violation in 2010, he was placed in the Dismas halfway house in Portland, where he was free to go to work every day at neighborhood place.

Lang walked away from Dismas August 8, after failing a drug test. Lang was also a part time student at the University of Louisville, where he allegedly stole a laptop computer from the campus library.

“Just to know that they're walking around you like regular people, it's terrifying actually,” said University of Louisville student Rebecca Hall.

Even more terrifying was the fact that Lang allegedly committed another armed robbery last week at the PNC Bank on Eastern Parkway.

A Dismas employee identified Lang from a surveillance photo shown on television.

Police say he also stole a laptop from a Highlands home and attempted to sell another stolen laptop back to its owner at a Shively Speedway convenience store.

So why did he qualify to be in a halfway house in the first place?

Corrections spokesperson Lisa Lamb said, “Inmates qualify for community custody if they are within 24 months to parole eligibility or serve out and all other requirements are met."

Lang doubts, he'll qualify for another break.

“I'm not getting out your honor. I have an escape charge too,” he said at his arraignment.

Lang was scheduled to serve out his sentence for the robbery charges in 16 years, but was eligible for another parole hearing in November.

He faces a new court date on his latest charges October 8.