A number of inmates at the Harris County Jail were released after there was a glitch in the county’s universal service’s computer system, according to law enforcement officials.
The computer system crashed last Thursday night in a failure that stretched out into the weekend.
As a result, the sharing of data on arrested criminal defendants was halted. Unfortunately, crime occurs at all hours of the day, so when arresting officers were taking suspects to jail, the data needed to approve and/or reject charges was not reaching the justice system.
For example, the sheriff’s office is dependent on that data in order to process inmates in and out of jail.
The rule is, defendants are not to be held for processing more than 24 hours in misdemeanor cases and more than 48 hours in felony cases.
Ultimately, the sheriff was ordered by a magistrate to release offenders whose time for probable cause presentation had expired.
According to documents, the county joint processing center reached a high of approximately 250 prisoners in custody during the first two days of the crisis. This caused great concern about the safety of deputies and other staff members.
“As you all know well, the safety of the public, the security of our criminal justice system and the efficiency of our courts require that Harris County government meet its basic obligations to the people and to those elected by the people who enjoy a sworn duty to protect them,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a release. “We look forward to Harris County Universal Service’s next plan of action to ensure this type and size of technology failure stop once and for all. We look forward to a proposed solution from Harris County Administrator Dave Berry and Deputy County Administrator for Justice and Safety Perrye Turner.”