Richard Heene Released from Prison ... Kinda

2/7/2010 2:14 PM PST

Richard Heene Released from Prison ... Kinda

Balloon Dad Richard Heene has left the Larimer County Detention Center in Fort Collins, Co. -- but only so that he can check in to the Alternative Sentencing Unit (ASU), which is about 30 seconds away.

An officer at the prison tells TMZ that Heene has been transferred to the ASU, but couldn't elaborate further.

There are several different programs at the ASU in which Heene can participate in to serve out the remainder of his sentence -- including work release (he would leave for work but check back in at night), workenders (inmates report on Saturday and Sunday and are taken out on supervised crews to perform Community Service work) or even electronic home monitoring.

Heene was sentenced to 90 days behind bars following that whole balloon episode we'd all rather forget.

-- After Heene was transferred to the ASU, his loving wife Mayumi showed up to pay him a visit. Mayumi has 20 days to serve in jail for her role in the fiasco. She'll serve her time after Richard serves his.