Missoula County jail release policies eyed

 


MISSOULA (AP) — Procedures at the Missoula County Detention Facility are again being questioned after an inmate released in April without having to post $1,200 in bail ended up being charged with murder following the beating death of another man a week later.


Deputy City Attorney Carrie Garber said 47-year-old Eugene Gonzalez should never have released without posting bond. Gonzalez has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the death.

Gonzalez had been picked up on a warrant for failing to appear in court. Garber said 72 bench warrants have been issued for Gonzalez and that he has a history of missing court dates.

"For there to be any policy that somebody who habitually doesn't show up is released ... is ridiculous," said Garber.

Missoula County Sheriff Mike McMeekin said deputies releasing prisoners held on misdemeanors is common.

"It's fine with me as long as it's not an assault crime at all," he told The Missoulian. "If it's a minor crime and they're satisfied the person will be in court the next day, it's fine with me if they do a book and release. I leave it up to the deputies' discretion."



Municipal Judge Marie Andersen last summer wrote a scalding letter after the jail released, without consulting her, a man she had sentenced to three days in jail.

"When you have a bond set or a sentence imposed on someone from Municipal Court, it shouldn't be the jail's judgment call to let them go or not," Andersen said. "Because they don't understand the facts and circumstances of the offense or what that person's history is."


Carl Ibsen was elected in November as Missoula County sheriff and will begin the job in January.

He said he's willing to talk about the release policy if people in the justice system have concerns.

One person with concerns about possible legal ramifications resulting from releasing prisoners is Missoula District Judge Dusty Deschamps.

"The more concerning aspect is if this person is supposed to be in custody and was unlawfully released from custody and goes out and commits some crime, I think that the jailer has some exposure there," he said.

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MISSOULA (AP) — Procedures at the Missoula County Detention Facility are again being questioned after an inmate released in April without having to post $1,200 in bail ended up being charged with murder following the beating death of another man a week later.

Deputy City Attorney Carrie Garber said 47-year-old Eugene Gonzalez should never have released without posting bond. Gonzalez has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the death.

Gonzalez had been picked up on a warrant for failing to appear in court. Garber said 72 bench warrants have been issued for Gonzalez and that he has a history of missing court dates.

"For there to be any policy that somebody who habitually doesn't show up is released ... is ridiculous," said Garber.

Missoula County Sheriff Mike McMeekin said deputies releasing prisoners held on misdemeanors is common.

"It's fine with me as long as it's not an assault crime at all," he told The Missoulian. "If it's a minor crime and they're satisfied the person will be in court the next day, it's fine with me if they do a book and release. I leave it up to the deputies' discretion."

Municipal Judge Marie Andersen last summer wrote a scalding letter after the jail released, without consulting her, a man she had sentenced to three days in jail.

"When you have a bond set or a sentence imposed on someone from Municipal Court, it shouldn't be the jail's judgment call to let them go or not," Andersen said. "Because they don't understand the facts and circumstances of the offense or what that person's history is."

Carl Ibsen was elected in November as Missoula County sheriff and will begin the job in January.

He said he's willing to talk about the release policy if people in the justice system have concerns.

One person with concerns about possible legal ramifications resulting from releasing prisoners is Missoula District Judge Dusty Deschamps.

"The more concerning aspect is if this person is supposed to be in custody and was unlawfully released from custody and goes out and commits some crime, I think that the jailer has some exposure there," he said.

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