Laclede County sheriff completes investigation, discipline in mistaken inmate release

 Courtesy:  Laclede County Sheriff's Office
Courtesy: Laclede County Sheriff's Office (KY3)
Published: Jun. 27, 2019 at 11:33 AM CDT
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The Laclede County Sheriff's Office completed an internal investigation into the mistaken release of an inmate.

A jailer released armed robbery suspect Steven Joe Mitchell from the jail with another inmate's paperwork in mid-June. investigators say he stole a car in the northern part of the country. Officers captured him after a chase and crash.

The criminal investigation into whether Mitchell had helped is still ongoing. Sheriff David Millsap expects there may be other criminal charges against other inmates. He says the original story about an inmate falling asleep and Mitchell taking his paperwork does not appear to be true. The sheriff says when someone is processed out of the jail, they are let out of the upstairs holding area, then checked out at the processing desk. He says in both areas, jail staff failed to confirm Mitchell's identity.

Sheriff Millsap says several employees are being disciplined, with actions such as suspension without pay, letters of reprimand, and oral counseling. No one lost their job. He says the staff member who processed the paperwork has been a good employee with no past issues. Sheriff Millsap believes he has a policy in place to assure this does not happen again.

"You're just going through these processes, and I think you're like any other employee in it any other business," said Sheriff Millsap. "You just get a little bit lax. So we're going to make sure that the sergeants are holding their people responsible for that."

He says from this point, a supervisor will have to look over everything before anyone is released from the jail. They're also considering identifying bracelets for inmates, similar to what hospitals use.