POLITICS

Halifax jail staff who wrongly released man will be disciplined, says minister

11/21/2014 10:37 EST | Updated 01/21/2015 05:59 EST
HALIFAX - Disciplinary action will be taken against staff at a Halifax jail after a man facing charges including attempted murder was mistakenly released from custody earlier this month, Nova Scotia's justice minister said Friday.

Lena Metlege Diab said policies and procedures were not followed when Eliahs Knudsen Kent was discharged from the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility.

"This is a case where mistakes were clearly made and there are no excuses," Metlege Diab said in a news release.

"It's unacceptable and we need to make sure it doesn't happen again. All staff involved are being held accountable and will be appropriately disciplined."

The release said "corrective action" was being taken with all frontline and supervisory staff. Department spokesman Andrew Preeper could not elaborate on the disciplinary action, saying it was a private human resources matter.

Kent was being held on remand and awaiting trial for charges including home invasion and robbery when he was released Nov. 7. Police warned the public not to approach him, saying Kent had a history of violence.

He spent more than 28 hours on the lam before he was found at an address in the Spryfield area and arrested after a short foot chase.

The Justice Department said an internal review found jail staff did not verify the man's identity through photographs, signatures or an identification bracelet before he was released, as per protocol.

The department said the ID bracelets are to be worn at all times, but that was not being enforced at the time of the man's release.

Halifax Regional Police have also laid charges against Kent and another inmate, alleging one impersonated the other in order to obtain release. They said Gregory Sheldon Spears, 30, was charged with permitting escape and breach of recognizance.

The incident was the latest in a string of mistaken releases at the jail. Since December 2007, there have been five people released from the custody in error.

In all cases, the inmates were returned, though some of them turned themselves in.

Officials blamed a number of factors for those inadvertent releases, including clerical errors and paperwork mix-ups.