Four former inmates are on the loose after South Carolina officials made a mistake calculating parole dates.
Ten inmates total were mistakenly freed from prison, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Chrysti Shain said, according to The State. Six of them have been recaptured.
The erroneous releases took place over a period of two years, she said.
Those released had, on average, two and a half years remaining in their sentences, WIS-TV reported.
South Carolina typically frees inmates after they have served 85 percent of their sentences. Shain said due to a miscalculation, the 10 inmates were freed prematurely.
The mistake was not discovered until last month when the state was reviewing records, she said.
The South Carolina Department of Corrections “has done a systematic review of its practices and has enhanced the system to make sure these types of errors will not happen again,” Shain said.
She said the public was not notified of the accidental releases because the department knew the locations of the former inmates and was working through South Carolina courts to get them back.
Any victims of the former inmates were notified, she said.
Shain said most inmates were sentenced on drug charges between 2009 and 2017. The last inmate let go by mistake was freed last year, she said.
Republican State Sen. Katrina Shealy, a member of the Senate Corrections and Penology Committee, expressed worry for the victims, noting that the crimes with which those who were mistakenly freed included burglary and domestic violence.
“If there were victims that would be potentially harmed because they were released, they should be notified,” she said.
Democratic State Sen. Dick Harpootlian, a former prosecutor, said keeping the mistake quiet was probably a good idea.
Publicity about the mistake could alert those mistakenly freed that authorities are now looking for them, he said.
Shealy also said it was important to put the incident in context of the scale of South Carolina’s prison system.
“Out of 9,000 to 10,000 inmates who are released each year, 10 were released early,” Shealy said. “It was human error. That’s not an excuse. It’s an explanation.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.