Wrongful Release Prompts Changes at Jail - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/12/04

Wrongful Release Prompts Changes at Jail

Lubbock Sheriff's Office Lubbock Sheriff's Office

The murder trial of a Lubbock man was postponed on Monday. Collie Willard is charged with the stabbing death of Roberto Esquivel at a party in August of 2003. And you may remember at the time, Willard was supposed to have been in jail.

He had been accidentally released due to a clerical error, for which the Sheriff's Department took full responsibility. The trial was actually postponed for a number of reasons. It will be rescheduled for May or June.

Numerous changes have been made at the Lubbock County Jail to prevent another wrongful release. Lubbock County Sheriff David Gutierrez says human error is unavoidable, but they constantly monitor what they can do to better their system at the jail.

"I think in the past, I know for the 27 years that I've been here we've had people released, I can't think of one. But anytime you have humans looking at paper work and the thousands of papers they go through, mistakes are going to be made. Unfortunately, however these are costly mistakes that we can not afford. This particular issue was simply human error, it had nothing to do with a computer," said Sheriff David Gutierrez.

Gutierrez says he started making changes to better their procedures, five years ago when he became sheriff. "Any time we have some sort of error, especially of this magnitude, we have to evaluate the system and process, to determine if there is something that can be done to prohibit a mistake and in this particular case, working with information services we've worked to place another flag in the system to assist in not releasing someone improperly," Gutierrez said.

So they updated their computer systems, and since Gutierrez has been sheriff he's also renovated the booking process and eliminated numerous supervisor positions. "When you have too many supervisors, the old quote too many chiefs and not enough indians, the responsibility was scattered so by reducing the number of supervisors it assists in streamlining the system."

Gutierrez says he feels good about the way the jail is being run today, and says they will continue to monitor things to make it better.

In the meantime, plans for the new jail are still in the works. They are tentatively scheduled to break ground in December, and the facility should take two or three years to build. The new jail will have complete state of the art security.

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