Potential third strikers released from Fresno Co. Jail

FRESNO, Calif.

So Wednesday, Action News brought the problem to the sheriff's attention when a man who already had three strikes got released, then skipped out on a court date. It looks like the only explanation is a failure to communicate.

An Action News investigation uncovered troubling new information from the Fresno County Jail. The doors are now swinging open for convicted felons facing a potential third strike.

"To hear there may be third strikers that are being released from the jail, that just seems inappropriate and it's something we need to talk to the sheriff about obviously," Henry Perea said.

Prosecutors alleged three strikes against Roy Marez in November. He missed a court hearing the next month, and was re-arrested in June. The jail released him for overcrowding this week and Wednesday, he missed another court hearing.

In May, the District Attorney's Office claimed Rick Green already had two strikes and was facing a third. The next month, the jail released him, and four days later he missed a court hearing.

And, prosecutors alleged two previous strikes against Jake Jones in June. Exactly one month later, he got out of jail because of overcrowding. He was re-arrested four days later, but released again one day after that.

ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi says all three men could simply disappear. "If it's a potential third striker, it could be life in prison. The odds of that person returning to court are not very high."

Sheriff Margaret Mims told Action News last week these are the type of suspects she doesn't want to release. "Third strikers are exempt from our early release." said Sheriff Mims.

Her jail captain told Action News that third strikers shouldn't get out. But in these cases, he says that information never came to the jail.

"These individuals may have been arrested for a potential third strike, but we have not received any paperwork indicating that they are being charged with a third strike," Capt. Rick Hill said.

Capozzi calls it a communication breakdown putting us all at risk. "Someone being released with a violent past because of the lack of communication results in someone very dangerous being released out into the streets. Society needs to be protected. We can't allow this to happen."

Supervisor Perea says the county is looking at several options to house more inmates, including bypassing the Sheriff's Office and using the old prison in Coalinga.

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