Accepting Responsibility for the Accidental Prisoner Release - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/22/03

Accepting Responsibility for the Accidental Prisoner Release

"I take full responsibility for the operation of this jail," said a solemn Sheriff David Gutierrez. On Friday he faced the cameras for the first time since the capture of two men who were accidentally released from jail. One of them allegedly committing a murder while free.

"The incident involving Mr. Willard appears to be the result of a failure in our paperwork process," said Gutierrez. The prisoner's containment orders were supposedly lost in a paperwork shuffle. "The situation with Mr. Willard is very unusual," he added.

After a week on the run, Ferrer was caught. The sheriff's staff feeling the brunt of embarrassment. "That incident has been handled through our disciplinary process," he said. The fallout affected three officers; a sergeant demoted to deputy, a corporal demoted to deputy, and a deputy placed on two days leave without pay.

Stabbing Victim's Family Copes with Their Loss
The family of Robert Esquivel believe that if the county hadn't made the mistake of accidentally releasing 32-year-old Collie Willard, Robert would still be alive. More >>

"I'm not making excuses, please hear me, I'm not making excuses," said Gutierrez, "But we've added another 3,000 intakes/releases from previous years." Despite the massive increase in prisoner volume, and the correlating probability for error, Gutierrez says more manpower is not the answer. "No, our personnel are in place.

According to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards we have the proper personal in the proper places. We just have to be extremely cautious and careful on how we move paperwork, and how we observe it, and look at it," he said.

The sheriff has ordered a review of our procedures for receivng and tracking all court documents.

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