Veteran misses VA appointment due to jail delays

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 23, 2015)– The crimes Shawn Alsop was accused of were so minor that on Wednesday, a Marion Superior judge decided that after nearly two weeks in jail, he would reduced the military veteran’s $500 bond to release on his own recognizance so that the north side man would make a long-awaited 8:15 a.m. appointment Thursday morning with a counselor at the Veteran’s Administration.

The Marion County Jail did not release Alsop until 25 hours after it received the judge’s order and the vet missed the appointment it took him two months to get.

“It’s for college assistance and possible job employment help to get a lot of help for schooling I’m doing,” said Alsop after his delayed release from jail. “Now I could wait anywhere from 30 to 90 days to even get an appointment.”

Alsop shouldn’t have been sitting in the Marion County Jail Thursday morning, not after his wife called every hour on the hour Wednesday afternoon and evening looking for her husband and explaining to a jail clerk the judge’s wish that the veteran make his appointment.

“She said it would be anywhere between 12-24 hours,” said Kristen Alsop, “and I said, ‘Well, that’s not going to work out because he has an appointment Thursday morning that he has to keep,’ and she said, ‘Well, I don’t have anything to do with that.'”

Alsop was frustrated because she had seen previous stories on FOX59 News about a federal class action lawsuit claiming the Marion County Sheriff has illegally detained offenders hours and days after their ordered releases by the Court.

Alsop said the lawsuit and her protestations about the judge’s order didn’t sway the jail clerk.

“They sometimes would say, ‘Oh, it can be anywhere up to 72 hours,” she said.

That claim, confirmed by Alsop’s husband after his release, would be a blatant disregard for an internal jail email signed by Sheriff John Layton in March following multiple FOX59 reports of over-detention practices at Jail I and II.

“It has come to my attention that there is a rumor that jail inmates can be held up to 72 hours after the date that they have been ordered to be released to the street,” wrote Layton. “That rumor is false. Inmates must be processed for release in a timely manner…It is not, nor has it ever been, a policy of the Sheriff’s Office to process inmates within a 72 hour window.”

Shawn Alsop’s case, and the response to his wife Kristen’s inquiries, would seem to indicate the sheriff’s message has not gotten through to his staff.

“There’s been stories about inmates being released that shouldn’t be released, there’s been other stories of, I think, there has been a few of inmates maybe being held for days and days on end with no reason for them to be held,” said Kristen. “I see the stories, I hear stories, I find myself in the same situation and I’m like, ‘Hey, why don’t I call somebody that I know is actually keeping their eye on these problems?'”

FOX59 News was told by Criminal Court 16 personnel that they properly processed and coded Alsop’s paperwork for release Wednesday.

MCSO Spokeswoman Katie Carlson told FOX59 News:

“The Marion Superior Court issued the Shawn Adams release order at 12:06 p.m. on April 22, 2015. There was no specific time or condition for the release stated in the order. Such orders are processed in the order that they come to the attention of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. Mr. Alsop was released from Marion County Jail II at 1:08 p.m. on April 23, 2015. As noted previously, MCSO continues to work with the City/County I.T. agency, the Information Services Agency, and GTL to improve the information flow between the courts and the jail. The challenge is continual and remains a work in progress.”

FOX59 News confirmed Alsop was actually released at 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

The Sheriff’s statement marks the first time this year, and since the filing of the federal lawsuit, that MCSO has admitted that its policy and process for releasing offenders in a timely manner in response to a Court order is troubled and flawed.

For almost two year,s the jail has struggled to retain certain prisoners while releasing others.

Last September, Layton brought in an outside management consultant to examine the process and make recommendations.

Alsop’s case and the office’s public response to it, indicate much work remains to be done.

Attorney Richard Waples represents at least four former inmates, and could potentially speak for hundreds or thousands more, who claim they were held in violation of judicial orders.

In the last month FOX59 News has reported that a court clerk’s error led to the mistaken release of Lamont Anderson, a west side man who should have remained in jail, and instead was freed to be shot days later while committing a burglary at his brother’s home.

That clerk was fired.

MCSO, the courts, prosecutors, public defenders, community corrections personnel, bail bondsmen and police officers have struggled to operate a number of new case and offender management systems that came on-line in the summer of 2014.

Shawn Alsop expects his case eventually to be dropped, meaning the two weeks he spent in jail and the missed VA appointment will be for naught.

“Hope they can fix this for everybody so they don’t have to go through it,” he said. “It’s really not right.”

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