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Oversight led to prisoner release



Published: Sat, February 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) -- A corrections officer failed to verify a prisoner's identity by checking the photograph in his file, causing the wrong man to be released to a rehabilitation facility where he walked away, an investigation concluded.

The booking officer, a 15-year veteran of the Lackawanna County Prison, was disciplined but not terminated for his role in the release of Brian McDonald earlier this month, county Commissioner A.J. Munchak said Friday.

"It comes down to human error," said Munchak, chairman of the prison board. "The photo in the file was not compared to the inmate standing before him. ... It sounds so simple, but it was not done."

Munchak, who declined to reveal the officer's identity, said two corrections officers must now make a photo verification before a released.

Brian McDonald, 22, of Bronx, N.Y., was released when staff members from a Lehigh Valley rehabilitation center came to pick up Dennis McDonald, 50, of Scranton, authorities said.

Brian McDonald later walked away from the Keenan House in Allentown, leading to a warrant for Dennis McDonald's arrest on escape charges, authorities said.

Prison officials said they didn't realize a mistake had been made until Feb. 12, after Dennis McDonald's wife called to say her husband was still locked up there.

After leaving Keenan House, Brian McDonald hitchhiked back to Scranton and turned himself in on Feb. 14, authorities said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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