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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