Error frees inmate at Pen Mistake discovered 11 days after release

statewide search begins

Cases involve robbery, drugs

Officials didn't know Baltimore man had conviction under alias

October 23, 1997|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

A Maryland Penitentiary inmate who had been convicted of robbery and drug charges was mistakenly released, and prison officials didn't discover their error until yesterday, 11 days after the man was freed.

State police have issued an arrest warrant for Rickey F. Alston Sr., 29, of the 2100 block of McCulloh St. and have begun a statewide search for him.

Alston was released Oct. 11 because prison records indicated that his time had been served on the drug convictions, said Maxine Eldridge, spokeswoman for the Division of Correction. The prison didn't know until yesterday about an outstanding warrant for Alston stemming from a robbery conviction under the name Ricky R. Austin.

Because officials did not realize the warrant for Austin was under an alias, Eldridge said, the prison "did not have a reason to hold him beyond his sentence."

"Early erroneous releases are rare events, and the Division of Correction takes immediate action to have an offender returned to custody through an escape warrant, which occurred in this instance," she said.

Officers from the state police Warrant Fugitive Unit and Baltimore police have been notified about Alston's release and have begun a statewide search for him, state police said.

Alston should be considered dangerous, state police said.

"I can't explain why they didn't see it," said Sgt. Laura Lu Herman, a state police spokeswoman.

Alston is the second inmate under state supervision to be mistakenly released recently.

Bradrick Thomas Greene, 23, was released in error Oct. 7 from the Central Booking and Intake Center in Baltimore. Greene was released on personal recognizance on a traffic charge in the city when he was supposed to be held to continue a sentence he was serving in Baltimore County.

In the Alston case, prison officials said, they discovered their error yesterday during a routine review of records.

When he was released, Alston had finished serving the mandatory portion of an 11-month sentence on a conviction in March on charges of drug possession and possession with intent to distribute drugs. Alston also was wanted for violating mandatory supervision in connection with a robbery conviction in 1993 under the Austin alias.

He had served three years of that five-year sentence when he was released in April 1996 and was ordered to remain under mandatory supervision of the Department of Parole and Probation for the remainder of his sentence. Because he committed another crime, he violated his mandatory supervision and should have been held in prison.

State police ask anyone with information about Alston's whereabouts to call the Glen Burnie barracks at 410-761-5130 or a local police department.

Pub Date: 10/23/97

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