An internal investigation into the mistaken release of a prisoner from Curry County’s jail has ended with a reprimand and a major change in jail policy.
A report of the investigation at the Curry County Adult Detention Center was released Friday.
The internal investigation centers on the release last September of 46-year-old Willie Windom.
Windom was serving time in a Texas prison but was released to Clovis Police custody to face other charges in Curry County.
The Curry County charges were eventually dismissed. But Windom, who was supposed to be returned to Texas to finish out a 12-year prison sentence, was released from county jail despite a hold request.
During the internal probe, a booking officer at the jail told investigators she was notified the charges Windom was being held on had been dismissed. In her written statement, the officer said she checked Windom’s file and didn’t see anything holding Windom.
The booking officer also said she had the sheriff’s department check for outstanding warrants and then released him.
The booking officer said after she was made aware of the mistake in December, she checked and found paperwork, “in the file showing he was to be returned to Texas,” her statement said.
In her statement, the booking officer said, “just because the paperwork is in there now, doesn’t necessarily mean it was there at the time of his release,” and it is not uncommon for paperwork to show up in an inmate’s file months after they are released.
In a Dec. 18 interoffice memo to jail Administrator Lois Bean, Assistant Administrator Audrey Barriga said because the booking officer could not, “swear that the paperwork to hold him (Windom) was not in the file,” the booking officer would be issued a written reprimand for, “substandard work performance” and “poor quality of work”.
Barriga’s memo stated the situation had been addressed and that to, “ensure that one person does not release and inmate accidentally, the facility now requires all releases to be approved and reviewed by supervisor personnel prior to release taking place.”
Supervisors are also now required to document their review of the entire inmate file prior to any release, the memo said.
The county declined to identify the booking officer.
In a letter to the Clovis News Journal accompanying the investigation memo and statements on the incident, County Manager Lance Pyle said the booking officer and other employees name’s were redacted because of the county’s personnel policy.
Texas prison officials, who said they caught the mistake when they were auditing their files Dec. 9, said Windom still had a sentence to serve in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and was supposed to be returned to them after his Curry County case was resolved.
Dec. 11, after a story about the release appeared in the Clovis News Journal, Windom was captured at a local shelter.
Jail officials said he was transported back to Texas Dec. 18, where he is serving the remainder of his sentence.