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Ohio's Longest-Serving Inmate Released
By Cleveland Plain Dealer / Associated Press
Published: 12/20/2002

Ohio's longest-serving prison inmate, locked up with only brief tastes of freedom since 1954 for beating a man to death and subsequent crimes, has been released.
State prison officials released William Louis Banks, 65, from the Allen Correctional Institution in Lima on December 11.
Using money from his prison commissary account, he bought a $28.50 one-way bus ticket to Cincinnati, where he reported to an inmate halfway house, said Andrea Dean, a spokeswoman for the prison system.
Banks spent all but eight months of the last 48 years behind bars. He was first sentenced for beating William J. Cater to death in Cleveland in July 1955.
He was briefly released in 1959, 1973 and 1985, but each time was sent back to prison after a few months of freedom. He went back to prison, in succession, for killing a second man by cutting his throat, for wounding his brother and for threatening his girlfriend with a gun.
In February, the Ohio Parole Board ordered Banks released for a fourth time but his release was delayed while the prison system found a halfway house willing to take him.
'We were trying to find a place that would have some kind of programming that would help his re-entry into society because he's been incarcerated for so long,' Dean said. 'We didn't want to put him just anywhere. We were very diligent about it.'
Banks will be allowed to leave the halfway house to find work and run errands after a seven-day orientation period, Dean said.
She said Banks would remain at the halfway house for at least three months, after which parole authorities will decide whether he should be allowed to live independently.


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