DES MOINES, Iowa -- An Indianola man sentenced to 30 years in prison on arson and drug charges is making plans for his release and it’s coming after just two years behind bars.
Forty-eight-year-old David Brommel's crime spree started in 2011 with meth manufacturing charges. While out on bond for that arrest, he added two 2nd degree arson charges after burning down DHS buildings in Indianola and Knoxville in December of 2011.
In an interview shortly after he torched down the building in Knoxville, his niece says he was upset with DHS officials for taking his children away.
"You can’t take care of your kids, you're not strong enough, you're not a good enough dad,” said Taylor Brommel.
The judge appeared to throw the book at him with a sentence of thirty years in prison, but a Des Moines attorney says sentencing in Iowa is rarely what it seems.
"The way the code is written means that in this case, the Iowa Department of Corrections can keep someone for up to a certain amount of time,” said Angela Campbell, an attorney with the Dickey and Campbell Law Firm.
In Brommel's case, the mandatory minimums for his three charges only required him to be in prison until March of this year.
"In this particular case, it appears 2nd degree arson is what he pled guilty to and that doesn't have stricter sentences because of the way the laws have been passed,” said Campbell.
After the mandatory sentence is up, it's up to the Iowa Department of Corrections and the Iowa Parole board to decide if an inmate should be paroled.
That's what led to Brommel to a work program at Fort Des Moines after serving less than 10% of his maximum sentence.
W. Thomas Phillips, a former parole board member says it’s not up to the board to criticize mandatory minimum laws or whether an inmate's sentence was too long or too short. He says his main concern was whether an inmate could be rehabilitated on the outside and if they are likely to re-offend.
"The focus more so was on what is the probability of going forward rather than what happened back here,” said Phillips.
According to the Iowa Department of Corrections, the average inmate spends just over four months in a work release program. That means Brommel will likely be out of custody by early 2015.