Parole denied for Claremont cop killer
A Dodge County cop killer will be moved to a lower-risk prison after action taken April 14 by a Parole Review Board consisting of the state’s corrections commissioner and others.
Andrew Salinas, 56, will be moved to an unknown medium-security prison, according to the Department of Corrections. He is currently locked up at a state prison in Rush City, which houses 1,000 prisoners in high security.
Salinas is serving a life sentence for brutally murdering Claremont Police Chief Gregory Lange in July 1988. Lange responded to a late night domestic disturbance near his home in Claremont. He never made it back home.
There are three facilities in Minnesota with medium custody settings, including Moose Lake, Faribault and Lino Lakes. “We don’t discuss placement ahead of time for security reasons,” said Nicholas Kimball, spokesperson for the DOC. He pointed out medium security is behind a secure perimeter fence.
“It is common to transfer inmates to the facility that best fits their needs,” Kimball said. “Salinas’ life sentence was continued, and he will be in the facility that will make his incarceration most effective.”
State DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell has established a new set of conditions for Salinas, which will be reviewed at another parole review in three years. The DOC declined to identify the specifics of Salinas’ new conditions.
While moving Salinas to a lower secured facility caught some off guard, Lange’s widow, Sue Lange, and her family said, “We’re OK with what has happened. He will still be behind bars.”
Lange said she received a phone call from the DOC’s Schnell explaining the situation the next day after the decision was made by the review panel. “He told me with his being locked up for 30 or more years, there are no more programs. There is nothing new to offer lifers,” she said. “In a medium secured facility, he will have access to a lot more stuff. This is mainly to keep him focused on positive things rather than thinking of stupid things.”
She said the DOC assured her they are not preparing Salinas for release. “It’s not in the cards to release him,” Lange said.
Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose called last week’s decision, “disappointing at best.” Rose reminds people that not too long ago Salinas attempted to escape from the Stillwater prison. “It’s not like he has been a model inmate,” he said.
Asked if she is she ever worried about Salinas’ release, Lange replied: “It’s always in the back of your mind. You have no idea what some of the politicians come up with. New York has released a lot of bad criminals. That is our biggest fear.”
After speaking to Schnell, Lange said she understood the predicament with Salinas. “It’s for the safety of everyone involved that they don’t have too much time on their hands,” she pointed out. “He has been given a lot of goals and expectations and will have three years to accomplish them,” she added.
Lange said she could find out what the DOC has in store for Salinas with new programs at the medium-secure facility. However, in order to do that, Salinas would be notified. “I don’t want him to get the idea that we care about him,” she said. “We have enough to take care of ourselves.”
This is the third parole review for Salinas since he was sentenced to life in prison in January 1989. However, he was sentenced prior to the law changing a few years later that added “without a chance of parole” to the life sentence. So Salinas does potentially qualify for parole. He will be up for another review in three years. Previously it had been every eight years.
Sheriff Rose said it’s frustrating to see that the DOC has set up Salinas on a three- year review plan.
Lange says she will not ever give up her fight to keep Salinas behind bars. “He was given a life sentence,” she said. “We are sentenced to a life without Greg, why should he get off? Everything was taken from us.”
She added, “We will do what we have to to keep him there the rest of his life.”
The review hearing coincided with what would have been the 50th wedding anniversary of Gregory and Sue on April 18. “A lot weighed on my mind,” Lange said. “Andrew took all of my and Greg’s hopes and dreams away,” she said, adding, “I’m grateful for the 18 years we had together.”
Lange is enjoying two great grandchildren. And when she thinks about what Gregory is missing, she says, “It’s just not right. Greg would have been over the moon with all these babies.”
For now, Lange will be forced to wait another three years to determine the fate of Salinas. “I’m not looking forward to it because it’s so hard on us,” she said.