Inmates Released By Mistake in Ingham County

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

Every week, a select group of inmates at the Ingham County Jail get a "lucky break" and are released early due to jail overcrowding.

But for some inmates this week, that lucky break was short-lived.

"We had to kick 101 people out of here, which we did," says Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth, "and caught up in that mix were 15 pepole that shouldn't have been released then."

After deputies realized they'd made a mistake, those 15 inmates then had to be rounded up and brought back to jail. As of Friday afternoon, one of those inmates was still free.

"It's unsettling to me. Clearly we failed here," Wriggelsworth says.

The sheriff tells News 10 it's a complicated process behind deciding who gets released early, with many factors-- so many factors that they can make mistakes.

"It's just human error."

Human error, he says, that wouldn't be happening if the jail weren't so understaffed and overcrowded. At any given time, the jail is dozens of inmates over its 665-person capacity.

"It's not likely to change at this point," says Steve Dougan of the Ingham County Board of Commissioners. He says the funding for more deputies or more beds just isn't there in this year's budget. And he says looking toward 2009, there's not much hope either.

This time around, the mistakes were fortunately non-violent offenders, in jail for things like probation violations and writing bad checks. But Wriggelsworth says if overcrowding continues to grow, some violent offenders might potentially have to be released as well.

"It wouldn't be murderers, but it could be assault, battery, felonious assault."

For now, some will continue to get those "lucky breaks" even after breaking the law.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by terri Location: holt on May 12, 2009 at 10:01 PM
    understaffed, if the sherrifs dept spent more time at the faciliti instead of sitting lodged in BAR parking lots eating donuts and waiting for drunk drivers it would not be understaffed. take1/2 the officers off the road, doing NOTHING and put them at the jail.
  • by Someone Location: SW Mich on Sep 25, 2007 at 06:44 AM
    Have jail / prison capacity rates kept up with population rates? - If we don't build and maintain enough facilities, it don't take no stinkin genius to figger out whats gonna happen. - DUH!
  • by Bill Location: Lansing on Sep 24, 2007 at 07:27 PM
    Maybe it's time we quit throwing every drunk driver in jail and put them on teathers. We have the technology. The new drunk driving laws are what is filling up jails with non-violent offenders. Driving while texting and with a cell phone jammed into ears is just as dangerous as drunk driving and we don't seem to want to admit it or do anything about it.
  • by Mrs. N Location: Western, MI on Sep 23, 2007 at 10:35 AM
    We seriously need to start taking away the benefits these offenders get in jails and prisons, like how about no cable television. Taking cable out would free up some funds to add staffing or other programs. Why in the hell do prisoners need cable tv. since when did these things become needs instead of thigns we earned because we could afford them? I despise my tax dollars being spent to give inmates their "Wants". And Michigan needs the death penalty, that would clear up some room right there.
  • by Rhonda Location: Work on Sep 22, 2007 at 09:07 AM
    Ingham County also needs to check their records for late July/early August. My ex-husband was mistakenly released and now he has fled the state of Michigan. When Eaton County found out that he was released, they allowed him release on a personal recognizance bond because he had family in the area. The funny part of the story is that he was originally extradited back to Michigan from Wyoming on your taxpaying dollars. He is supposed to appear in court this next week. I'm betting he won't be there. Nine months of hard work on my part wasted, due to someone else's clerical error.
  • by Dee Location: MI on Sep 21, 2007 at 08:01 PM
    Wait Till Granholm Shuts down the Prisons ... see how many DANGEROUS inmates get released....To go out and do what they know best. Michigan will be in for a big crime wave, when that happens.
  • by Anonymous Location: Mason on Sep 21, 2007 at 07:27 PM
    I commend Sheriff Wriggelsworth for simply stating that it was "human error." Mistakes happen, and steps have to be taken to correct them. That I can accept. At least he is honest enough to put it out there like it is, and that takes courage.
  • by Ron Price Location: Harrison Mi. on Sep 21, 2007 at 05:26 PM
    The missing Inmate is My neice. She showed up for her court date on last Tuesday and was never told there that she had to return to Jail. She is in the process of loosing or not looseing her children She may deserve it but she needs help. The sheriff Dept. keeps going to Her grandmothers house and giving her a hard time. We all want her to turn herself back in and try to straighten up and get her kids back. Maybe they should offer to put her in a rehab instead of jail to get straight. I wont even let her at my house because I do not want her around. But when the system screws up and blames it on money and staffing. Then bother people to try to correct their problem is to much. They should have you post a comment on the air to have her come in and leave her grandmother alone. If she shows up anywhere we all will turn her in. Ask her GM about the way the Sherrif is handleing this mess. She lives in Mason.
  • by william Location: niles on Sep 21, 2007 at 03:59 PM
    human error,ok.with that many in jail,shows crime up.but when there released so soon,I don't see this is sending a good message to thoes committng crimes.but all the CUTS and not sure what will happen.just shows another problem that needs fixed.no money,no fixing.taxes are a option,but no,can't do that.when there's so much crime you can't leave your homes,then what?what do people want the law to do?keep up thoes no votes,don't complain when things get out of hand.instead of doing what the guy did who was trying to build bombs to protect his home,build a lake around your house and fill it with crocs.new family pets.it makes about as much sense as no tax raises.
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