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Fayette County prison board urged to fix mistakes with early, late inmate releases

| Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, 11:18 a.m.

Fayette County's judges want the prison board to solve ongoing problems at the jail that have resulted in some inmates being mistakenly released and others held longer than they should have been, according to the deputy court administrator.

Tammy Lambie told the prison board on Wednesday that judges are “extremely upset with mistakes at the jail.”

In one instance, she said, a mistake resulted in an inmate's waiting 10 days for a hearing on a bench warrant when the individual should have gone before a judge within 72 hours of incarceration.

In another instance, Lambie said, an inmate was not released, despite having posted bond twice in two cases. She said she found the inmate's release paperwork in a file at the jail, but the same information was not reflected in an online database.

“All of the paperwork was there, in the folder at the jail, but the computer system told you something different,” Lambie said.

In other cases, inmates have been brought back from state prisons for hearings in county court, only to be returned to their respective state prisons too soon.

For example, Lambie said, an inmate was brought back to the county for a trial and then returned to a state prison despite having a hearing scheduled in Fayette the next day.

She said the county's judges want the prison board to hold jail employees accountable when mistakes occur, “instead of everything being skirted and put under the rug.”

County Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink, a board member, pointed out that the problems are not new. She cited previous emails in which commissioners were advised that individuals were inappropriately released, while others with mental health issues “spent months” longer in the jail than they should have.

Zimmerlink and Al Ambrosini, commission chairman, met with Lambie, Warden Brian Miller and other prison staffers to address the problems.

After the two-hour meeting, Miller attributed the problems to a “glitch” that will be resolved.

Lambie said her goal is to have prison employees put inmates' information into a computer program to eliminate paper files. Having the information readily available, she said, will help to resolve problems.

Miller said the jail had 255 inmates in house, with 83 lodged in rented cells in neighboring counties.

Average cost to house the inmates in the other counties is $60 per day, he said.

The county had spent $687,000 as of Aug. 20 on out-of-county rentals to alleviate overcrowding at the jail, according to Sean Lally, controller.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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