The computer system at Los Angeles County’s largest prison crashed over the weekend, leaving some people held in bars for more days than they should have.
When the Sheriff’s Department’s prison information management system went offline at the Men’s Central Jail in downtown LA on Saturday, officers were forced to handle inmates for manual release. , according to Captain Lorena Rodriguez, the department’s lead spokeswoman.
Rodriguez said the system didn’t come back up until late Monday.
According to an internal e-mail reviewed by The Times, the power outage was caused by a manhole fire.
On average, the Central Prison for Men holds about 4,500 people, most of whom are awaiting trial or incarcerated for misdemeanors. Rodriguez did not provide an estimate of how many people who should have been released from prison were locked up because of the inactivity.
Rodriguez said the release was “just delayed,” not halted altogether. The Times spoke to a number of lawyers and relatives of those being held in prison, who said their clients or loved ones remained in custody Monday night, even after they were released. release order on Friday.
“There is absolutely no legal authority for them to detain my client, so this is excessive detention and a violation of my client’s constitutional rights,” said defense attorney Alexandra Kazarian, who has filed a complaint. detained a client for assault has been ordered to be released. Friday.
To make matters worse, Kazarian said, the confusion caused by a system error prompted a judge to order a bench for her client’s arrest when he missed a trial. on Monday.
A bailiff who spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity said he had at least a dozen clients who should have been released on Friday, but remained in custody Monday night.
Adriana Mercado said her brother, Daniel, was arrested last weekend on suspicion of identity theft. Although she managed to get him released, prison records show he was ordered to set himself free. But when Friday turned to Saturday, she still hadn’t heard from him.
Mercado, a Torrance resident, said she drove to Men’s Central Prison on Saturday afternoon. First, she was informed that her brother had been released. A few hours later, another deputy who worked at the prison told her he was at the Prison Admissions Center, where people are processed for admission, release or sent to and from court.
Mercado said her brother was a manager at one of Ralph’s grocery stores and she feared he would lose his job if he quit. The absconding she received from various deputies over the weekend caused her to panic more and more.
“My concern is that we haven’t talked to him at all. He hasn’t called anyone yet. If he had to play on the 19th, he should have gone out,” she said. “I’m appalled that I haven’t heard from him.”
Ty Anis, the defense attorney representing Mercado’s brother, said the fact that the Sheriff’s Department did not have a backup plan in the event of a system failure was tantamount to illegal detention.
“It’s unacceptable for a computer system to only be down for a few days,” Anis said. “I think the trick they’re doing is ‘We want to make sure we don’t release anyone by mistake.’ As a result, they are mistakenly detaining a lot of people.”
Kazarian said the Sheriff’s Department should expect lawsuits.
“Every day they are incarcerated, they are owed money,” she said. “I 100% expect to have a county representative come through the prison saying, ‘Oh my God, I’m so sorry you’re here. I will write you a check. ‘”