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MAHONING COUNTY Eleven deputies to face penalty



Published: Tue, May 15, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Four deputies face suspensions and all 11 will receive a written reprimand.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Eleven deputy sheriffs will be disciplined in the wake of an inmate's inadvertent release from the Mahoning County Jail who should have been on his way to prison.

All of them will receive written reprimands, said Sheriff Randall Wellington. Two of them also face a one-day suspension in addition to the written reprimand. The two deemed most responsible face a three-day suspension.

Under terms of their labor contract, the suspensions can't take place until after a predisciplinary hearing, which is next week.

"Attention to detail would have made the difference," the sheriff said. "This was not a system problem but a people problem. Each of these deputies could have discovered the mistake just by scrutinizing the paperwork each had in their possession."

Mistaken release: The discipline follows a nearly two-week investigation into how Brian Lamar James was released from jail when he was supposed to be headed to the state penitentiary.

Wellington said the problem was that there were two inmates named Brian James in the jail at the same time. Brian Lamar James had been sentenced to two years in prison by Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of common pleas court and was in the jail pending his transfer.

The other Brian James, whose middle name is Jamel, had been released on probation three days before the incident but his name still appeared on a daily list of inmates.

Deputies substituted the wrong middle initials for the two inmates, then intertwined the rest of their descriptive information from their files, Wellington said.

Because the records were mixed up, deputies processed Brian Lamar James as a jail release and told him to report to the Adult Parole Authority, Wellington said.

The mistake was caught because Brian Lamar James reported to a probation officer who was expecting the other Brian James and immediately notified the court. Brian Lamar James was immediately taken back into custody and has since been transported to prison.

Safeguards: Wellington said it's extremely rare to have more than one inmate with the same name in the jail at the same time, but said there are supposed to be safeguards to keep their records from getting mixed up.

Deputies should have checked the inmates' court case numbers, birth dates and Social Security numbers to ensure they had the right person, Wellington said. "They should have caught it coming down the line."

He said the investigation revealed some staff complacency and haste in the way deputies handle the nearly 700 monthly admissions and discharges from the jail.

bjackson@vindy.com




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