David Reyes was set to leave a Louisville jail on Sept. 25, 2016, after serving a nearly year-long sentence.
Yet he remained in the Metro Corrections jail until this February, five months after his release date. According to an internal investigation, the jail’s $1.5 million software system had glitches previously known to the facility’s technicians, which likely led to Reyes’s erroneously-extended sentence.
The error stems from a plea bargain that Reyes made in October 2015, in which he agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor sexual misconduct, assault, and unlawful imprisonment. In exchange, prosecutors would drop the felony charges that they had initially filed against him. However, the jail’s digital record system showed that Reyes’s felony charges were still pending, so the corrections staff failed to release him on the proper date.
The records coordinator claims to have previously informed staff that they should double check their data entry, since the software had problems with saving changes. An employee also told investigators that it was not uncommon for the system to “incorrectly display” inmate records.
The staffer responsible for marking the felony charges as dropped said that she had entered the changes correctly, and that the mix up was likely technological, though investigators stopped short of definitively placing blame on human or computer error. A technician also failed to catch the mistake when she processed Reyes’s release in September.
Reyes claims he repeatedly questioned jail staff about why his sentence was extended. It wasn’t until a lawyer, hired by his family, told a judge about the oversight that he was finally released. At that point, however, ICE agents took him into custody, having informed local authorities that he is a person of interest. Reyes claims there are other people in the jail who have also had their sentences prolonged without reason, and two former inmates have filed a lawsuit alleging that hundreds of inmates were being held past their release dates. It is unclear if the software issues are involved in these alleged cases as well.
This isn’t the first time that computer glitches have hamstrung a correctional facility. A Washington prison discovered in 2015 that a programming error had led to the early release of 3,000 inmates over the course of 13 years. Criminal justice reform advocates also filed a class-action complaint against a Tennessee jail in 2016, claiming that issues with implementing a new $9.7 million computer project was also delaying releases after people posted bond.