Is there even a point?

Man mistakenly released from jail beat girlfriend while free, authorities say

August 21, 2013|By Jeremy Gorner | Tribune reporter
  • Steven Derkits
Steven Derkits

A South Side man mistakenly released from Cook County Jail three weeks ago after being arrested for beating his girlfriend attacked her again while free, authorities said.

It wasn’t until Steven Derkits missed a court date Tuesday that the jail discovered he had been out of their custody since late July. He was apprehended less than three hours later.

Derkits, 30, of the 4400 block of South Talman Avenue, is now charged in two new felony cases. In one case, he’s charged with aggravated domestic battery and violating an order of protection,said Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. In the second case, he’s charged with domestic battery, aggravated battery in a public place, and violating an order or protection.

Derkits was charged with felonies in the new cases because he already has at least one domestic battery conviction.

Derkits had originally been arrested July 9 on charges of domestic battery, aggravated battery to a peace officer, simple battery, violating an order of protection and resisting arrest, according to Ben Breit, a spokesman for the Cook County sheriff’s department.

But on July 30, Derkits was released from the Cook County Jail by mistake when all those charges were dropped except for the battery to the officer.

That is likely what confused a jail employee, who may have glossed over Derkits’ paperwork and thought all the charges were dropped, Breit said. Whatever the reason, releasing Derkits was irresponsible, Breit said.

“It’s no excuse at all,” he told the Tribune on Tuesday night. “This is human error. It’s regrettable … and it’s unacceptable.”

When he was picked up Tuesday, Derkits suffered minor injuries when he tried to resist sheriff’s officers, Breit said. Officers had to use a stun gun to subdue Derkits, who was later taken to a hospital.

Breit said Derkits attacked his girlfriend on Monday — the same one he was charged with beating in July.

This marks the second time this year that a Cook County inmate was released by mistake. In January, convicted murderer Steven Robbins was wrongly released from the jail after he appeared in Cook County criminal court in a 1992 armed violence case.

Jail employees had accidentally set him free because there was no indication in his paperwork that he was still to finish serving a 60-year murder sentence in an Indiana prison.

In Derkits’ case, the sheriff’s department didn’t realize it had wrongly set him free until he missed his court date Tuesday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on the remaining charge of aggravated battery to an officer, Breit said. He was caught within 21/2 hours by sheriff’s officers.

Cook County Jail Inmate Mistakenly Released

Jeremiah Harris arrested Wednesday after being released Monday

Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013  |
Cook County Jail Inmate Mistakenly Released

Jeremiah Harris

A Cook County Jail inmate considered a “habitual offender” was arrested again Wednesday after he was mistakenly released Monday.

Jeremiah Harris, serving a 12-year term, was being held at the county jail awaiting trial in an unrelated murder case and possible probation violation when the mix-up occurred, Cook County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Cara Smith said.

Harris was found not guilty in the murder case and a judge terminated his probation in the weapons case. He was due to return to Stateville Correctional Center to fulfill his sentence, but an error allowed him to be released.

The sheriff’s office learned of the error Wednesday morning when a county judge informed them of a mistake with the inmate’s paperwork that led to his release. Harris was taken back into custody around 4 p.m. the same day in suburban Carpentersville.

This marks the third time this year an inmate was mistakenly discharged.

In August 30-year-old Steven Derkits was taken back into custody hours after he was accidentally released. Derkits, arrested in July for beating his girlfriend, ended up attacking her again after he was released, authorities said.

In a statement related to that incident, the sheriff’s office said it points to a larger, systemic problem in an overcrowded jail where more than 1,200 inmates are transported daily from their cells to court hearings.

“Working with more than a thousand paper files each day invites mistakes that can have serious consequences for public safety,” spokesman Ben Breit said. “There is no excuse for this antiquated system to continue in an electronic age.”

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