Jail procedures under scrutiny after 3 inmates mistakenly released in King County


King County is bringing in an investigator to look at jail procedures after three inmates were mistakenly released over the past three months.

County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement that the investigator will review the policies and procedures related to inmate releases.

On October 1, 38-year-old Marc-Eugene Larson was released from the King County jail because of a paperwork error.

Larson is accused of shooting two people in January last year. The court was trying to release a material witness in that case, but used a form that typically orders the release of a defendant, according to Williams Hayes, the Director of the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention. When the paperwork was filed, both the witness and Larson were released.

The jail didn’t become aware of the mistake until Sunday, and filed an arrest warrant. Larson was taken into custody Monday evening, after a week of freedom.

Hayes said a meeting is planned with the court to create a new form that is specific to material witnesses to prevent the mistake from happening again.

This is the third inmate to be mistakenly released since August.

In August, Joseph Tremato, 49, snuck out of the King County jail by blending in with a group of inmates who were processed for release. He was caught three weeks later, and now faces a 2nd degree escape charge on top of the burglary and drug charges already filed.

In September, 25-year-old Devon Hatcher was released from jail because his “paperwork was not handled correctly,” according to the County. They would not elaborate on the mistake.

“That’s absolutely ridiculous,” Ashley McCollum said. “You’d think they would have a better hold on what’s going on there.”

Hatcher was in jail on a burglary charge for allegedly stealing from McCollum’s home. He’s still out of jail, though an arrest warrant was issued.

“I’m glad I don’t live in that home anymore,” she said. “Because that gives me a really uneasy feeling.”

The investigator will review how court documents are processed and release procedures, according to Constantine’s statement. They will also help improve inmate processing and release, and coordination with courts, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies.

The investigator will report to the new Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Brenda Bauer, who will serve as interim director of the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention when William Hayes retires at the end of the month.

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