By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico
Curry County Jail officials mistakenly released an inmate on Saturday and law officers began searching for him on Monday when they were notified of the error.
John “ToyToy” Garcia, 33, was being held on a parole warrant, pending a new hearing by the parole board, when he was erroneously released, according to Tia Bland, Department of Corrections spokeswoman.
Also over the weekend, a county jail inmate escaped from authorities outside Plains Regional Medical Center after he was treated for an injury suffered at the jail. The escapee was recaptured about 10 hours later.
The incidents came just a few weeks short of the one-year anniversary of the escape of eight county jail inmates.
The men cut a hole in the jail’s roof and escaped Aug. 24, 2008. Seven were recaptured, but convicted child killer Edward Salas remains at large.
County Manager Lance Pyle said he was very displeased with the weekend’s incidents at the jail and said disciplinary action was in process Monday afternoon.
Pyle’s office oversees administration at the detention center.
“We have developed polices and procedures, and the county commission has provided funding for training and physical plant improvements, and the officers need to utilize what they have learned and the policies that have been implemented,” Pyle said.
“Why have a policy, why have a procedure if you’re not going to follow it? With the amount of resources and time that the county has put into that detention center, there just is no excuse.”
Garcia was being held on a parole warrant, pending a new hearing by the parole board, when he was erroneously released, according to Tia Bland, Department of Corrections spokeswoman.
Saturday’s mistaken release was due to a “mix-up in the paperwork,” jail administrator Lois Bean said.
“I am conducting an administrative review, and once I am certain it’s warranted, I will take the necessary disciplinary actions,” she said.
Bean said she didn’t learn of the mistaken release until Monday.
Garcia was being held on a probation violation and had new pending charges against him in the Ninth Judicial District Court, records show.
Thursday, at a probation violation hearing, a district judge released him to resume probation. But what the jail didn’t realize, Bland said, was that Garcia was to be held until the parole board could hear his case.
“The jail just didn’t realize that they should have kept him based on the fact that the parole board had not had a hearing with John Garcia to weigh in on the matter,” she said.
“He was a complex case in that he was an offender that was on both probation and parole … that piece of paper probably slipped by someone at the jail.”
Garcia is the second inmate to be mistakenly released in nearly a year.
About a month after the escape of eight inmates, jail officials mistakenly released Willie Windom, a 46-year-old who was supposed to be transported to Texas to serve a 12-year sentence there.
Bland said the Curry County Sheriff’s Office had been notified, and adult probation and parole officers were searching for Garcia.
She said a new warrant would be issued and entered into the National Crimes Information Centers database to get word out nationwide.
Garcia was on probation and parole for possession of a firearm by a felon, battery against a peace officer and possession with intent to distribute narcotics, Department of Corrections records show. He is also facing charges in district court of aggravated battery on a household member and embezzlement, according to court records.
On Sunday, county jail inmate Bobby Owen slipped out of restraints and escaped from authorities as he was being loaded into a vehicle following a visit to Plains Regional Medical Center.
Owen was taken to the hospital for an examination about 3 a.m. after he told jail staff he slipped and was injured in his cell, Bean said.
He was recaptured about 1 p.m. Sunday without incident at a residence in the 900 block of West Ninth Street in Clovis, officials said.
Owen is charged with multiple counts of burglary and larceny in addition to criminal damage and conspiracy.