Curry County Jail officials mistakenly released an inmate on Saturday and law officers began searching for him on Monday when they were notified of the error.
John “ToyToy” Garcia, 33, was being held on a parole warrant, pending a new hearing by the parole board, when he was erroneously released, according to Tia Bland, Department of Corrections spokeswoman.
Also over the weekend, a county jail inmate escaped from authorities outside Plains Regional Medical Center after he was treated for an injury suffered at the jail. The escapee was recaptured about 10 hours later.
The incidents came just a few weeks short of the one-year anniversary of the escape of eight county jail inmates.
The men cut a hole in the jail’s roof and escaped Aug. 24, 2008. Seven were recaptured, but convicted child killer Edward Salas remains at large.
County Manager Lance Pyle said he was very displeased with the weekend’s incidents at the jail and said disciplinary action was in process Monday afternoon.
Pyle’s office oversees administration at the detention center.
“We have developed polices and procedures, and the county commission has provided funding for training and physical plant improvements, and the officers need to utilize what they have learned and the policies that have been implemented,” Pyle said.
“Why have a policy, why have a procedure if you’re not going to follow it? With the amount of resources and time that the county has put into that detention center, there just is no excuse.”
Garcia was being held on a parole warrant, pending a new hearing by the parole board, when he was erroneously released, according to Tia Bland, Department of Corrections spokeswoman.
Saturday’s mistaken release was due to a “mix-up in the paperwork,” jail administrator Lois Bean said.
“I am conducting an administrative review, and once I am certain it’s warranted, I will take the necessary disciplinary actions,” she said.
Bean said she didn’t learn of the mistaken release until Monday.
Garcia was being held on a probation violation and had new pending charges against him in the Ninth Judicial District Court, records show.
Thursday, at a probation violation hearing, a district judge released him to resume probation. But what the jail didn’t realize, Bland said, was that Garcia was to be held until the parole board could hear his case.
“The jail just didn’t realize that they should have kept him based on the fact that the parole board had not had a hearing with John Garcia to weigh in on the matter,” she said.
“He was a complex case in that he was an offender that was on both probation and parole ... that piece of paper probably slipped by someone at the jail.”
Garcia is the second inmate to be mistakenly released in nearly a year.
About a month after the escape of eight inmates, jail officials mistakenly released Willlie Windom, a 46-year-old who was supposed to be transported to Texas to serve a 12-year sentence there.
Bland said the Curry County Sheriff’s Office had been notified, and adult probation and parole officers were searching for Garcia.
She said a new warrant would be issued and entered into the National Crimes Information Centers database to get word out nationwide.
Garcia was on probation and parole for possession of a firearm by a felon, battery against a peace officer and possession with intent to distribute narcotics, Department of Corrections records show. He is also facing charges in district court of aggravated battery on a household member and embezzlement, according to court records.
On Sunday, county jail inmate Bobby Owen slipped out of restraints and escaped from authorities as he was being loaded into a vehicle following a visit to Plains Regional Medical Center.
Owen was taken to the hospital for an examination about 3 a.m. after he told jail staff he slipped and was injured in his cell, Bean said.
He was recaptured about 1 p.m. Sunday without incident at a residence in the 900 block of West Ninth Street in Clovis, officials said.
Owen is charged with multiple counts of burglary and larceny in addition to criminal damage and conspiracy.
Curry County Adult Detention Center recent escape and mistaken release history:
• Aug. 9 — Bobby Owen, 25, slipped away from a detention officer as he was being loaded for transport back to the jail from the hospital. He was captured about 10 hours later.
• Aug. 8 — John “ToyToy” Garcia, 33, was mistakenly released from the jail when he was supposed to be held for a parole hearing. He remains at large.
• Jan. 13, 2009 — Fermin Rodriguez, 19, cut off his ankle bracelet and fled. Rodriguez was facing charges of robbery and battery, when policy prohibited placing violent offenders on the ankle bracelet program. He was captured in May and is now serving three years probation for the escape.
• Sept. 29, 2008 — Willie Windom was mistakenly released from the jail when he was supposed to be transported to Texas to serve a 12-year sentence there on drug charges. He was caught the next morning at a local shelter.
• Aug. 24, 2008 —Eight inmates stole a key to a plumbing shaft and used handmade tools to cut a hole in the roof of the jail. Seven were captured. However, Edward Salas, convicted of killing a child while shooting into an apartment, remains at large.
• June 11, 2008 — Convicted drug trafficker Shane May was released for a medical furlough and failed to return to the jail for transfer to the Department of Corrections to serve his sentence. May, 32, was captured three days later.
• July 15, 2007 — Angelica Madrid, 33, hid behind a food cart and was able to reach the street. She was knocked down by a passing vehicle as she darted across Main Street while being chased by detention center officers. She was free only for about 30 seconds.
• Dec. 23. 2006 — Inmate Guadalupe Rodriguez stuffed his bed and escaped from the jail out a back door, and police were not notified for two days. He was captured five days later in Dimmitt, Texas.
• August 2006 — Law enforcement learned Philip Littlefield, 38, had been missing unreported for more than five weeks after failing to return to the jail from a medical furlough. He was captured two weeks later.
• July 2006 — A bench warrant was issued for Manuel Overman, who failed to report back to the jail after being released on furlough for a court-ordered treatment program. Overman remains at large.
• March 17, 2005 — Inmate Marcus Cerda picked the locks on his hand and leg restraints while awaiting a hearing at Magistrate Court and climbed into the ceiling of his holding cell. He crashed through the ceiling of an empty courtroom and ran from the courthouse, but was caught a few blocks away hiding in a shed.
• July 10, 2004 — Inmate Edgar Perales walked out of Plains Regional Medical Center while on a medical furlough. He was arrested Oct. 27, 2004.
• July 1, 2004 — Inmate Paul Salazar walked out of Plains Regional Medical Center while at the hospital on furlough and was captured July 9, 2004.
• Dec. 15, 2002 — Inmate Daniel Fallis escaped the jail when he broke through sheetrock in the bathroom ceiling in the booking area, crawled into the detention officers’ locker room and sprayed detention officers with a fire extinguisher before running out the back door. He was caught a few blocks away.
• May 1980 — Four inmates overpowered a guard and escaped from the Curry County jail.
— Based on news archives
Reaction to weekend problems at Curry County Detention Center:
“The reoccurring problems at the jail are frustrating for law enforcement and a nightmare for victims. Our citizens deserve better, and I urge county administration to make this public safety issue its utmost priority.”
— District Attorney Matt Chandler
“Ms. (Lois) Bean has done a good job. She was saddled coming in, and I would say that she’s doing her best and I’m confident in her ability to run the jail. Unfortunately with transition in any business, that makes it very difficult.”
— County Commissioner Dan Stoddard
“I know that we had issues in the past, and I think they’re being addressed, but I will be the first one to tell you I don’t think we have them all addressed yet. I think we’re making progress, but we’re certainly not there yet or we wouldn’t have had an escape or an (erroneous) release.
I would almost 100 percent bet you there was procedures in place that weren’t followed.”
— County Commissioner Wendell Bostwick
“It’s a frustrating situation. The County Commission has made it a priority, and we’ve worked hard to try to remedy the problems. About 40 percent of our budget goes into the detention center.
We’ve done all these things, and it doesn’t seem to be working, so I think we’ve got to take a lot harder look at the organization and the personnel from the top to the bottom of the organizational chart. We’ve worked hard to remedy it, it’s not happening, so we’ve got to take a harder look at it.”
— County Commissioner Caleb Chandler
“I understand they’re investigating it, and I haven’t heard any results. There must be a reason for that, (and) I don’t think it‘s a failure of the facility, (but) I’ll have to wait for the investigation and see what they find out.
It seems like it’s kind of norm around these type of facilities. Other facilities have similar problems.”
— County Commission Chairman Frank Blackburn
“We have came a long ways over the past year, but we still have a long ways left to go. I’m not happy with the situations that have occurred, which are unacceptable. ... disciplinary action is in process.”
— County Manager Lance Pyle