Fluke puts inmate freed by mistake back in City Jail Man had returned in search of money he thought he'd left

July 05, 1991|By Eileen Canzian

A police search for yet another inmate mistakenly released from the Baltimore city jail was abruptly halted yesterday afternoon when the man showed up at the jail to ask about some money he thought he had left behind.

State corrections officials said Furman Brown, 46, who was in jail awaiting trial on burglary charges, was mistakenly freed by the staff Wednesday evening. By yesterday morning, local radio stations were broadcasting his description, and city police were looking for him.

Apparently unaware of the turmoil triggered by his release, Mr. Brown went to the jail about 12:30 p.m. to ask about the money and was taken back into custody without incident, said Leonard A. Sipes Jr., a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

The state agency took over the troubled city jail, now formally called the Baltimore Detention Center, just Monday. State officials recently announced an ambitious plan to improve security at the jail, where escapes and mistaken releases have been commonplace.

Most of the planned changes -- including the installation of a computerized system to verify an inmate's identity and court status prior to release -- won't be in place for another month or two, Mr. Sipes said.

"We recognize that erroneous release has been a recurring problem down there, and we're going to solve the problem," he said.

Officials could provide little information yesterday to explain how Mr. Brown could have been released.

Mr. Sipes said that a jail sergeant, whom he would not identify, had been placed on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation of the incident by the state police.

The few details disclosed by authorities yesterday suggested jail officials may have repeated an error that has previously led to the improper release of inmates.

Mr. Brown, who was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail on the burglary charges, was taken to the District Court building on Wabash Avenue for a bail review hearing Wednesday on an unrelated destruction-of-property charge.

Officials could not say yesterday what the outcome of that hearing was, and they wouldn't speculate on the possibility that no bail was imposed in that case.

But when Mr. Brown was transported back to the jail after the hearing, he was released by the staff within minutes.

In a January incident, jail officials mistakenly freed an inmate who went to court and received a suspended sentence for a narcotics violation.

The officials failed to check records that showed the man was supposed to stay in jail while awaiting trial on other charges.

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