INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (Feb. 22, 2015) - More former inmates from the Marion County Jail are coming forward to claim they, too, were forced to serve several days of additional sentences due to jail computer and staffing problems.
The ex-offenders called FOX59 News after learning of a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of four former inmates who claimed they were held for up 72 additional hours behind bars after judges ordered them freed.
"It's a messed up system," said Brian Kaufman. "It's just really scary."
Kaufman pleaded guilty last summer to a drunk driving charge. He was given time served plus 24 hours. When Kaufman turned himself in on a Friday morning, he expected to be home for lunch on Saturday.
Kaufman was not released until the following Monday afternoon, some 54 hours after his sentence was completed.
"I just remember them saying, 'Our computers are down.' That's not my problem. I can't help it that your system is down. The judge and the prosecutor signed that I was supposed to be in here 24 hours. I agreed to do 24 hours. I got work to do. I was hoping to go to church on Sunday. I wasn't able to do any of that."
Kaufman was held at Jail II, a privately run facility affiliated with the Marion County Jail on East Washington Street.
"They're moving me from area to area. My family is calling wanting to know what's going on. They're working on it. They don't know. I think at one point in time they told them I was already out, that I'd been released. I'm talking to them on the phone, 'I'm obviously not out. I'm calling you collect from jail. I should've been out of here.'"
Kaufman was also sentenced to spend 365 days on probation. He said once the probation and sheriff's offices realized their mistake and his overdetention, the father-to-be was offered a break on his sentence.
"I know they tried to take two days off my probation for it. I would take two years of probation over anytime in jail I'm not supposed to serve. I don't care about two days of my probation."
It was a probation violation, failure to call a drug reporting line, that landed Kisha Buckner in the main jail just before Thanksgiving of last year.
Buckner had been found guilty of forgery in 2013 and was given two years probation and no jail time.
Instead, the grandmother spent the holiday in jail awaiting a Dec. 8 hearing, but her probation officer and public defender didn't appear in court, and Buckner was sent back to jail for another nine days.
"On the 17th the judge released me out so I would be getting out," said Buckner, "so I thought I would be getting out that day."
That Wednesday afternoon stretched into Wednesday night, all Thursday and finally Friday morning before the sheriff found the keys to Buckner's jailhouse door.
"They kept telling me I wasn't going to get out because they didn't have enough workers," said Buckner. "'The computers are down.' I said, 'Can you tell me what step I am on now?' And they said, 'I'll go see. Well the computers are down.' I said, 'The computers are down?' Yeah, I heard that two or three times. I heard that on Wednesday and Thursday. 'The computers are down.'"
The sheriff's department has struggled to master the Odyssey computer system, a new case tracking system endorsed by the Indiana Supreme Court for Marion County's court, jail, prosecutor, police, public defender and probation systems, and its own Offender Management System.
FOX59 News has reported the system's multiple failures dating back to last summer when several inmates were mistakenly released from the Marion County Jail.
Offenders and their families often called FOX59 News during the last half of 2014, complaining inmates were being held up to 72 hours beyond their court-ordered release.
Sheriff's officials told FOX59 News the problem would be solved weeks before Sheriff John Layton successfully ran for re-election last November.
Layton's office has refused comment on the pending lawsuit which could lead to renewed inquiry or oversight by a federal judge.
Richard Waples, an attorney representing four inmates in the class action lawsuit, told FOX59 News there is no state law that permits the jail to hold inmates for three days past their ordered release as several offenders claim they were told by corrections officers.
"I thought, thank goodness somebody is actually doing something about this because this is a serious situation," said Kaufman after he learned of the federal lawsuit. "What happens if somebody in my particular scenario would've gotten killed? Would've gotten hurt? They were supposed to be out 48, 62 hours ago. That person gets hurt by another inmate. What if this person happens to commit suicide? What if somebody does something when they were supposed to be out? I mean, the jail's really going to be in trouble at that point.
"When a judge or prosecutor or whomever signs off on something, that's what it should be. Their word's no good."