AUBURN, Maine — An inmate at Androscoggin County Jail posed as a different prisoner and walked to freedom Friday morning, prompting talk of changes at the jail, officials said.
Kenneth Boyle, 46, of Mexico was released by booking officers at the jail at about 10 a.m. after claiming to be an inmate who was due to be freed that day. Apparently, the two men knew each other, an officer said.
Boyle was given the other inmate’s street clothes and possessions before he left the jail. A few minutes later, other officers in booking discovered the mistake after viewing photos on the jail system’s computer. A search party found Boyle on Center Street walking in the direction of the jail, within 10 minutes of his release.
A medium-security inmate, he was awaiting trial on misdemeanor charges, Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Jeffrey Chute said.
It wasn’t a case of mistaken identity on the part of the released inmate, Chute said. “Preliminarily, there is no doubt that this gentleman knew what he was doing,” Chute said.
Boyle was asked twice if he was the other inmate. He answered repeatedly that he was. He was processed for release and signed for his receipt of the other man’s money and valuables. All of the other inmate’s possessions were later recovered, Chute said.
When he was apprehended, Boyle acted “a little surprised,” but didn’t put up a fight, Chute said.
A detective at the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department is investigating possible charges against Boyle, Chute said.
Coincidentally, Chute said he had been in the process of researching changes to the in- and outtake booking procedures that would require all inmates to wear hospital-like bracelets that would have their identifying information on them. The inmates would be issued the wristbands during intake and would wear them the entire time in jail. The bracelets would be removed at their release after a check to make sure the proper inmate was being discharged. Several other county jails in Maine have started using the bracelets to help with identification.
Chute said a photo check is required for inmates being released.
“That didn’t happen and that’s the problem,” Sheriff Guy Desjardins said. An internal review is under way to determine why it didn’t happen and who was responsible for the error, he said.
“The goal is, obviously, never to let anybody go who’s not supposed to,” Chute said. But with as many as 6,000 inmates per year being booked, mistakes do happen, he said. “There’s a process in place and the process works, for the most part.”
The jail population has nearly doubled over the past 15 years, Chute said. It’s been a couple of years since the wrong inmate was released, he said.