Lancaster Co. prisoner mistakenly released three months early

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LANCASTER, Pa. -- A Lancaster County prisoner was released early after clerks misinterpreted his paperwork earlier this month.

Josh Parsons, a county commissioner and chairman of the prison board, said, "There's always some chance of human error, but you want to have systems that eliminate that to the extent possible."

The prisoner was supposed to serve three more months after he was convicted of driving under the influence with a suspended license.

Parsons said, "He was released about 90 days early, reported to Adult Probation and Parole like he was supposed to, then the mistake was caught and he was sent back to Lancaster County Prison."

Officials said the man wasn't a threat to the community.

Earlier this year, another error occurred when an inmate was in prison for 17 months longer than he should have been.

"We take in and release around I think 5,700 inmates a year," Parsons said. "So you can see there's a high volume there. There's a lot of records being processed, but we can't have mistakes either."

Soon after that mistake, authorities updated how they keep their records.

"There is an electronic system that we implemented earlier this year to try to bring us further along, and we're making progress on that," Parsons said.

They also still have employees examine the records.

"The judge basically fills out a paper order that then has to be input and interpreted to some extent," he said.

Parsons said he's working to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.

"We were understaffed. We've been able to fill many of those positions because of recruitment, reduce overtime. So we're seeing some good trends but it takes time," he said.

Parsons helped launch a program where officials hold public meetings to openly talk about what they are doing well and what they can improve.