New Year Changes After Mistaken Prisoner Release

HONOLULU, OAHU (Ben Caxton) — The new year is bringing new changes to Hawaii’s jail and court procedures after a man charged with murder was accidentally released from custody last year. Hawaii Department of Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda explained the changes to state lawmakers on Tuesday. He said that Big Island courts will now email bail documents to the jail in addition to hand delivering them. In July 49-year-old Brian Lee Smith, who had been charged with second-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, was mistakenly freed from the Hawaii Community Correctional Center. He was free for two days before turning himself in. The investigation into his release is continuing but the state says that the jail never received the bail documents that would have instructed staff to hold Smith. He was released when other cases against him were resolved.

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