Tech issue caused by manhole fire forces ‘dozens’ of inmates to wait extra time to leave LA jail

Technical issues caused as many as dozens of incarcerated people to remain in a Los Angeles jail longer than they were scheduled to be held.

Between Saturday afternoon and Monday, a connectivity issue with telecom service provider AT&T caused the Men’s Central Jail to experience problems with its Automated Jail Information System, which helps coordinate the release of prisoners and check for warrants in other jurisdictions, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told The Independent.

As a result of the delay, according to the agency, “a few releases were unfortunately delayed,” the agency said, and estimated “approximately five” people were affected.

During the technical issue, attorneys said their clients were unlawfully stuck inside the jail, while family members reported being unable to contact their loved ones.

“There is absolutely no legal authority for them to hold my client, so this is an over-detention and a violation of my client’s constitutional rights,” defence attorney Alexandra Kazarian told The Los Angeles Times on Monday, adding that the delay lead a court to mistakenly issue an arrest for their client after he was unable to attend a Monday court hearing on-time.

An anonymous bail agent told the paper that they were aware of “dozens” of people impacted by the delay.

A manhole fire was what first triggered the technical problems, the Times reported, citing an internal email.

It’s not the first time the facility has been accused of causing undue delays.

Covid procedures reportedly kept multiple inmates waiting to leave the jail beyond when they were scheduled to be released.

The Men’s Central Jail can hold roughly 4,500 inmates in total.

In April, monitors filed a report in federal court accusing guards at the facility of punching incarcerated people in the head and forcing them to endure “humiliating” group strip searches that lasted for hours.

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