BALTIMORE, MD. The inmate who was pending trial for re-trial on murder charges wasn’t even missed, according to state officials. It wasn’t until a resident of Baltimore City who recognized the inmate, who was released in error, and called police that prison officials knew they were short a convict. Today he was captured around the corner from where he lived and around the corner from where his victim died.
The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services has placed one employee on administrative leave pending the final outcome of the Department’s investigation into the mistaken release of Rodriquez Purnell last Friday.
In accordance with Departmental policy and State personnel guidelines, the employee is on paid leave during the investigation, and no further information is available regarding the employee.
The current investigation is focused on the release process. Preliminary results indicate a lapse in release procedures that would otherwise have identified the pending charges at the time of release. The Department’s review will not only include the actions of the employee, but all related policies and procedures, to see whether anything needs to be changed in the wake of the error, or whether this was simply the result of one employee’s failure to adhere to established policies and procedures.
DPSCS annually releases approximately 10,000 sentenced inmates, in addition to thousands more pretrial detainees in Baltimore City who either make bail or are released by the courts.
- The DPSCS Warrant Apprehension Unit is assisting Baltimore City Police and other law enforcement personnel in the search for Rodriquez Purnell.
- The Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and other top DPSCS leaders are overseeing the investigation of this matter, and a team of detectives has been assigned by the Executive Director of the DPSCS Intelligence and Investigative Division (IID) to investigate.
- There is a system in place that requires staff to perform multiple checks before a person is released, including for outstanding warrants, detainers, and pending charges.
- Release procedures were not followed according to policy, and the investigation will determine exactly which procedures were not adhered to, and whether any policies need to be changed.
- Any administrative action, including any discipline, that is undertaken as a result of the investigation will be announced as soon as possible.
- Mr. Purnell was a sentenced inmate housed at the MD Reception, Diagnostic, and Classification Center in Baltimore who was also awaiting trial on additional charges. He was released despite the pending charges for which he is due to stand trial next month.
- Mr. Purnell was not considered missing during weekend inmate counts because it was believed he had been released properly. He had not escaped or become unaccounted for.
- On Sunday night, a citizen alerted the facility about Mr. Purnell—more than 48 hours after the release. The investigation and notification to law enforcement began immediately after that contact.
- DPSCS annually releases approximately 10,000 sentenced inmates; its pretrial facilities daily hold an average of more than 3,000 detainees.