The swinging front doors of the Fresno County jail open dozens of times a day for inmates getting out. But in the past nine days, they've also opened for two violent men -- /*Paul Prieto*/ and /*Timothy Van*/ -- who were not supposed to get out.
/*Jail Captain Rick Hill*/ says a deputy released Paul Prieto on March 5th, when Brian Prieto should've been the one getting out. "When the officer saw the last name, he started the release process. Nobody caught it and that inmate was released accidentally."
Prieto, a potential third striker, was scheduled to go to trial on armed robbery charges on March 12. He was facing 151 years to life in prison. He never appeared in court and the judge issued a warrant for his arrest.
Captain Hill says the jail staff is overworked -- sometimes spending as long as 16 hours a day on the job -- but they have a pretty good track record. "We do the best we can to keep everybody in custody and every once in a while mistakes are going to be made."
Human error also led to Timothy Van's release -- out the front door, instead of to a program at the Poverello House. These two releases aren't the first mistakes made at the jail. And, Hill says, they probably won't be the last. "I can't guarantee it's not going to happen again. There's absolutely no way."
In fact, as Action News investigated the mistakes, we also learned of another error the jail made that they didn't yet know about.
An armed robbery suspect named Vincent Deleon was released in December, on the same day he entered his plea in court. Deleon is also a third striker with a history of violent crimes in the Los Angeles area. Five days after his release, when he was supposed to return to court, he was gone. A warrant was issued for his arrest, but he has not been caught.