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Inmate released by mistake asks judge how to go back

It’s at least the fourth time in the last six months that a Cuyahoga County Jail inmate was released by mistake


An inmate was mistakenly released from the Cuyahoga County Jail and returned voluntarily.


Adam Ferrise
The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A 36-year-old man released from the Cuyahoga County Jail by mistake on Friday told jail officials he wasn’t supposed to get released and called a common pleas judge to ask how he could go back.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Administrative Judge John Russo said the inmate, Francisco Cruz, voluntarily went to his required meeting with his parole officer on Thursday and was taken back to the jail.

Cuyahoga County officials have so far released little information about the incident, only confirming that an inmate was released. Russo praised the inmate’s honesty.

Cruz was serving an 18-month prison sentence for drug possession, escape and domestic violence. That sentence ended on Oct. 2, while Cruz was being held in the Cuyahoga County Jail on a separate drug possession case, according to court and prison records.

He pleaded guilty in that case on Oct. 2, the same day that the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections notified the jail that Cruz’s prison time was up, Russo said.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Peter Corrigan sentenced Cruz the same day to one year on probation in the drug possession case and ordered him to serve time at the Community Based Correction Facility, where he could get treatment for heroin dependency, Russo said.

Cruz was supposed to remain in jail until a bed opened up or the jail was able to drive him to the less-restrictive lock-up. Russo said Cruz told jail officers that he wasn’t supposed to go free. Jail employees released him anyway.

Cruz called Corrigan’s bailiff after he left the jail and said that he was released by mistake, Russo said. Corrigan tried to find a way to get him into the community-based facility, but they told Corrigan they only take inmates who come directly from the jail, Russo said.

Cuyahoga County spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan said an internal investigation is underway to find out exactly what mistakes were made that led to Cruz’s release.

It’s at least the fourth time in the last six months that a county jail inmate was released by mistake. It’s become one of a myriad of issues that has plagued the jail, including nine inmate deaths since June 2018, an Ohio Attorney General’s Office criminal probe, an FBI civil-rights investigation and a scathing November 2018 U.S. Marshals report that detailed “inhumane” conditions.

The first erroneous inmate release happened April 29, when an accused bank robber tied to Cleveland’s Rack Gang was released from the jail despite having a $200,000 bond that he didn’t post. Officials blamed miscommunication between the prosecutor’s office, clerk of courts and jail as the reason Datuan Whitfield was released.

Jacquise Drewery, who was supposed to be held on $1 million bond on a murder charge, was released from the jail on June 15.

The Euclid Municipal Clerk of Courts Office initially sent an incorrect judge’s order to the jail, but corrected the mistake within 45 minutes. Drewery was released from the jail early the next morning.

Tyrieon Harris, who was charged with burglary, was released from the jail on July 13. A corrections officer was fired for failing to review the proper paperwork, but the officer blamed the county’s outdated computer technology.

An inmate also escaped the jail on Sept. 19. Cuyahoga County officials have not said how Ferdinand Torres-Vargas was able to change clothes and walk out of the jail.