Family of inmate accidentally released hires attorney

Updated:

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

The Orange County Jail could end up facing a lawsuit over the mistaken release of an inmate, Channel 9 has learned.

WFTV broke the story over the summer when the Orange County Jail accidentally let state prisoner John Baker, 29, go free on bond.

On Friday, Channel 9 learned how the jail workers at fault basically got a slap on the wrist, according to reporter Kathi Belich.

And when WFTV told the inmate's family about the punishment, they were furious.

But Baker's family said when the jail wrongly let him post bond, the family and Baker were the victims because it's been an emotional roller coaster.

They're now angry Baker won't get credit toward his sentence for the time he was out, and they're hiring a lawyer.

Baker, a convicted thief, went to an apartment in Apopka to be with his girlfriend and their 2-year-old daughter once he got out. In all, he was out of jail for five months before the state caught the mistake.

His girlfriend, C.C. Beckett, told Channel 9 they all truly thought he was free.

"You're telling me that he did not know that he was supposed to be back in prison when he was out here?" asked Belich.

"No, because anybody who says they'll give him a bond, they're going to bond out because it's not his fault that he bonded out, it's Orange County's fault," said Beckett.

On Friday, Channel 9 got the jail's report on what went wrong.

The report said three workers got written reprimands and their supervisor was suspended for one day for missing clear documentation that Baker had a "hold" to return to Marion Correctional Institution.

 "(A) one-day suspension is not enough, because you never know," said Beckett. "They might mess up on someone else's case, let them out and somebody might get murdered."

Baker's girlfriend also insists he did not break the law while he was out.

A neighbor told Channel 9 she believes the jail supervisor should be fired.

"Somebody dropped the ball," said neighbor Veronica Foster. "They were not paying attention to what was going on. They were there for the paycheck."

Channel 9 asked the county for the discipline records of all five jail workers investigated for Baker's release and found four had been investigated and/or disciplined in the past for wrong releases, the supervisor five times.