Lexington police arrest Fayette inmate who was mistakenly released in April

Herald-Leader Staff ReportMay 17, 2013 

Rodney Bell

Authorities have arrested an inmate who had been on the lam for more than a month after he was mistakenly released by Fayette County corrections officers.

Rodney Dewayne Bell, 28, was returned to the Fayette County jail at 1:13 a.m. Friday after being arrested by Lexington police, according to a release from the jail spokeswoman.

No other details were provided about Bell's return. The release did not say how police located Bell.

Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said Bell was arrested just before midnight Thursday on Devonport Drive on pre-existing warrants for contempt of court and escape. Roberts did not have any other details about his arrest.

Jail officials have said Bell was accidentally released because of a clerical error. The director of the jail has said the officers could face retraining or discipline.

Corrections officers let Bell go April 5 after he paid a $1,000 bond on a contempt of court charge. Three days later, jail staff realized Bell should not have been released because he had an outstanding federal warrant in an unrelated drug case. He was charged in U.S. District Court March 7 with possessing cocaine with intent to distribute. The release said he is being held on that charge.

Last month, Jail Director Rodney Ballard elaborated on the paperwork error that led to Bell's release and allowed a Herald-Leader reporter to view the documents.

When Bell was booked into the jail, the Fayette County sheriff's deputy who transported him provided six pages of documents to jail staff. The second page in the stack indicated there were "no detainers," which typically would indicate an outstanding warrant, on file for Bell. However, the bottom document in the stack was a handwritten notice that had been faxed to the sheriff's office that said "Be advised, Mr. Bell ... has federal holders."

Ballard said Bell's release was the result of human error rather than a policy failure. The corrections officers who released Bell failed to read the whole file and relied on the page in which the sheriff's deputy indicated Bell had no warrants on file, he said.

At the time, Ballard said the documents passed through the hands of several corrections officers and an internal investigation is ongoing. The release did not say whether the internal investigation had been wrapped up.

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