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Published: Friday, 12/30/2005

Thousands of crime victims mistakenly told Ohio inmates let out


COLUMBUS Thousands of Ohio crime victims received calls from a computer notification system today mistakenly telling them inmates had been released, a state prisons spokesman said.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction believes the problem stemmed from a computer glitch that happened during maintenance by agency employees.

The department was double-checking to ensure that no inmates were accidentally released, spokesman Brian Niceswanger said.

About 3,000 calls were made starting at noon today, he said. The system was shut down when the glitch was discovered about an hour later when concerned crime victims started calling the agency.

Officials still were trying to determine how many inmates the calls involved because some inmates had multiple victims or victims put others on the notification list.

The department s computer system that tracks the release of inmates was undergoing maintenance Thursday night when a file listing inmates names was activated and accidentally sent to a contractor that handles the automated notifications.

The department received dozens of calls from victims, Niceswanger said. The cause of the glitch had not been determined by this afternoon.

Somehow a file containing a list of people who obviously aren t going to be released got sent to the company, Niceswanger said.

Charles Humphrey, of Newark, who was on the list because of a sexual assault against a relative, said he got a call, then tried unsuccessfully to contact the victim services unit. He said the timing was unusual because he was preparing to travel out of state tonight to bring the relative to his home for the New Year s holiday.

It was just kind of freaky. I thought they did let him out, Humphrey said.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.

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