Two Delaware County jail employees have been suspended after a prisoner was prematurely released last week when they failed to finish reading the bail conditions for the inmate, officials said.
At least seven inmates at the George Hill Correctional Facility in Thornbury Township have been mistakenly released this year through paperwork errors or confusion over identities. Officials have acknowledged problems with procedures and paperwork.
Christianus Felten, 42, of Upper Darby, is again behind bars after spending a night out. Felten, in jail awaiting trial in an alleged burglary, was approved for electronic home-monitoring after his bail was reduced at a preliminary hearing Dec. 7, according to Robert DiOrio, solicitor for the Delaware County Prison Board.
Felten was freed when two jail employees - an intake clerk and a sergeant - did not confirm his eligibility for release with the bail office and released Felten before final approval for home-monitoring, according to officials.
"That portion of the paperwork was not read by the officials on duty," said DiOrio.
The jail has been run since January 2009 by Community Education Centers, a private New Jersey company.
County Executive Marianne Grace said the county was not happy with the news of another release. CEC has made a number of changes, she said, and continues to work at "refining their procedures."
In August, intake and release procedures were changed and extra staff added in efforts to prevent further erroneous releases. There have been at least 3,000 discharges since then, county officials said.
In an e-mail statement, the company said it was "using this experience during this transition phase in order to continue to improve procedures at the facility."
In October, the state Department of Corrections inspected the facility and reported it was in "complete compliance" with the state's minimum requirements on policies and procedures, according to spokeswoman Susan McNaughton. The next inspection for the jail is scheduled for 2012.
The state, she said, does not track erroneous releases from county prisons.
The error involving Felten, who was arrested Nov. 13 and charged with burglary, was discovered when a person at the residence he was released to contacted the jail to ask about home-monitoring for Felton. He was then returned to the jail.
The two employees had recently volunteered for the newly created positions, DiOrio said. He did not know whether they were suspended with or without pay.
"The performance of this unit should be flawless," said DiOrio, "and they are going to try and make it so."