Washoe Officials Agree To Fix Inmate Tracking Problem

Washoe County Sheriff's Office
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Washoe County judges, court clerks and jail officials will meet over the coming weeks to fix inmate tracking problems that have led to the mistaken release of at least seven inmates.

Chief District Judge James Hardesty met Wednesday with Sheriff Dennis Balaam and other officials to determine why the inmates were released despite court orders to hold them.

"There are computer glitches, human error issues and communication difficulties on both sides," Hardesty said Wednesday after the meeting. "Our goal is to take the steps necessary to reduce the risk of mistakes."

Concern over mistaken releases arose last week when Judge Janet Berry discovered that an inmate she had ordered held had been released and did not show up for a court hearing.

Berry said the unauthorized releases left the community at risk and taxpayers out thousands of dollars.

Assistant Sheriff Don Means said problems "are not an epidemic" and said they can be resolved by further standardizing the process and continuing training.

"Everybody's dedicated to fixing these things," he said.

Jail officials determined seven inmates had been released incorrectly over the last 12 months. Three remain free, Means said.

Most of the problems came after the court and jail changed the way sentencing information is sent to the jail. Instead of filling out paper forms, the information is entered on a computer, he said.

He said sometimes jail clerks fail to scroll through all the screens to see the full orders, or information about holding inmates arrives days after the sentence has been issued.