Mistakenly released Cook inmate is arrested in Carpentersville
Sun-Times September 18, 2013 8:16PM
Updated: September 19, 2013 4:28PM
A man serving a 12-year prison term who was mistakenly released Monday from the Cook County Jail has been apprehended in a Carpentersville residence, authorities said Wednesday afternoon.
It’s the third time this year — and the second time in three months — an inmate has been mistakenly released from the Cook County Jail, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
Jeremiah Harris, 25, from Chicago, had been held in the jail since June and was to return to Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet but was instead mistakenly released Monday, said Cara Smith, chief of policy and communications for the Cook County Sheriff’s office.
Harris was serving a 12-year-term as a “habitual offender” and is considered dangerous. Smith said Harris was arrested about 4 p.m. in Carpentersville in an “uneventful apprehension” in a residence. She said it’s not yet known whether anyone harbored Harris. When asked whether Harris knew he was released by mistake, Smith said, “I am confident he knew.”
The sheriff’s department is still investigating who is to blame for the screw-up, but Smith said it’s “my sense” that a judge was responsible.
Smith said the sheriff’s office learned about the mistake Wednesday, when it received a call from Cook County Judge Mary Margaret Brosnahan at the George Leighton Criminal Courthouse alerting deputies to the error.
Harris was being held in the Cook County Jail awaiting trial in a 2008 murder case and for a possible violation of probation in a 2006 unlawful use of a weapon case. On Monday, Harris was found not guilty in the murder case and a Cook County judge terminated the probation in the weapons case, Smith said.
And sheriff’s deputies received no judge’s order — as would typically be the case — to return Harris back to Stateville, Smith said.
“The orders generated on Monday didn’t contain any language remanding him back to the [Illinois Department of Corrections], nor to the Cook County Department of Corrections,” Smith said.
On July 30, the jail mistakenly released inmate Steven Derkits, who was originally arrested July 9 in the city, stemming from a domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend. Derkits’ absence went undetected until late August, when he was a no-show in court. Sheriff’s police scooped up Derkits at his girlfriend’s house, the same day he failed to show up in court. At the time, a sheriff’s spokesman said it appeared staff mistakenly believed prosecutors had dropped all charges against Derkits July 30 and that he no longer needed to be held.
In January, a man convicted of murder was mistakenly released but was apprehended days later in Kankakee, officials said. Sheriff Tom Dart at the time said he believed a paperwork problem was to blame.
Although Smith said each mistaken release had been from a different cause this year, she stressed the need for a computerized system to more seamlessly update court files.
“We have been very vocal about our need for a computer system,” Smith said. “We still deal solely with paper ... we have a tremendous amount of paper. ... Regardless of the case, we’ll evaluate what happened and it’s always our goal that it never happens again.”