Inmate's mistaken release likely to mean discipline for 2 correctional workers Their background check fell short, state says

October 24, 1997|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

Two state correctional employees are expected to be disciplined for their roles in the mistaken release of a parole violator who should have been kept in prison up to two years longer, prison officials said yesterday.

If the employees -- whom correctional officials refused to identify -- had checked more thoroughly on the criminal background of Rickey F. Alston Sr., they would have discovered a warrant identifying him as a parole violator, said Maxine Eldridge, a state prisons spokeswoman.

"The information was available," Eldridge said. "They should have checked his criminal background more thoroughly, both through the computer and the inmate's case record."

Alston was released from the Maryland Penitentiary Oct. 11. Correctional officials believed he had served the required portion of an 11-month sentence for drug distribution, but they did not notice that he was also wanted for violating his parole in a 1993 robbery conviction.

State police said Alston was being sought last night. Disciplinary action is expected against the employees responsible for the error, said Eldridge, who added that she did not know what sanctions they might face.

The mistake was discovered by prison officials Wednesday -- 11 days after Alston's release -- during a routine review of records.

Alston's robbery conviction possibly confused correctional officials because he had used an alias, Ricky R. Austin, and that was the name entered into criminal records. But aliases are typically filed in state criminal records databases and usually show up in routine searches of a defendant's record.

Alston had been sentenced to five years for the robbery conviction but was paroled in 1996 after serving three years. When he was convicted in March of drug distribution, he violated the terms of his parole and should have been held for the remaining two years on the robbery conviction.

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: 10/24/97

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