The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Editorials

April 21, 2013

'Accidentally' releasing inmates just can't keep happening

Wearing a paisley tie with a striped shirt, that’s a mistake.

Releasing a murder suspect from jail due to human error, that’s a completely other story.

Officials confirmed that murder suspect Anthony Lee Ramsey was released Tuesday from Southern Regional Jail although he was remanded to custody by a Greenbrier County Circuit Court order issued by Judge James J. Rowe during a March 1 arraignment.

Fortunately, Ramsey was picked up without incident less than 24 hours later on Wednesday in Lewisburg.

The paisley must have not gone with the orange jumpsuit either.

We jest, but seriously?

Joe DeLong, executive director of the West Virginia Regional Jail Authority, stated: “I was given every indication that his release was a clerical error and there was no circuit court order in the file indicating he should be bound over,” and added he now believes the release was a human error within the jail system.

An internal investigation at Southern Regional Jail on exactly how the error was made is under way.

Apparently, jail files are printed out and kept in a paper file.

Isn’t this the electronic age that we live in?

Only paper records as files?

We hope this is not true.

If so, this incident should serve as cause to upgrade the system completely.

As difficult as the job of our law enforcement officers is, one can imagine the dangerous work that goes into investigating and arresting individuals accused of murder.

But only to see the accused let loose on the streets due to negligence or error?

Not to mention the unnecessary waste of taxpayer dollars.

Unbelievable.

Well, it might be, but it wasn’t the only time it’s happened.

In Kanawha County in late February, a kidnapping suspect was released from South Central Regional Jail due to a clerical error.

Who is at fault in either of these cases?

No one wants to be the one held responsible.

In the end, it doesn’t matter.

This kind of mistake can’t be made.

Dropping salt instead of sugar in your coffee is a detail that can be cleared up rather easily.

But letting suspects accused of kidnapping or murder back on the streets, that cannot happen.

Ever.

Offices on all sides of this process should re-evaluate their ways of handling critical information.

Streamlining or, in some cases, updating the process would hopefully eliminate the chances of this happening again.

Because the next time, it may not end as peacefully.

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