John Lanard Baker: Florida prison inmate back in custody after accidental release in May

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- A Florida prison inmate is back in custody after being accidentally released form the Orange County Jail in May.

John Lanard Baker, 29, was picked up at his Orlando home on a warrant Thursday, a day after the problem was first discovered, Orange County Corrections reported.

Baker had already been serving a prison sentence with the Florida Department of Corrections for theft and burglary convictions when he was transported to Orange County in April to face a grand theft auto charge. According to Orange County Corrections, its employees failed to place a detainer on him, so following a bond hearing the next month, he was released on $2,500 bail. Baker returned to court in September, when prosecutors dropped the grand theft auto charge. And he was again allowed to leave.

Jail officials finally realized the error Wednesday, after the Florida Department of Corrections contacted Orange County Corrections because Baker was missing from the state's system.

Orange County Corrections Chief Cornita Riley acknowledged in a statement Thursday that her department was responsible for the error.

"This was clearly an error on the part of our department and it is unacceptable," Riley said. "We are currently conducting a detailed inquiry as to exactly how this happened and will make appropriate changes. Appropriate corrective action will be taken for any staff found to be responsible for this error."

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews said his department is also looking into the mistaken release.

"DOC is continuing to investigate the matter and is working with officials to take steps to ensure this never happens again," Crew said.

According to Orange County Corrections spokesman Allen Moore, Baker apparently had no idea that he was doing anything wrong. There was no indication that Baker would be facing escape charges, though it was unclear how his five months of freedom would affect his previously scheduled release date from prison.

Unlike Baker's accidental release, two convicted murders recently used forged documents to escape from a Florida prison.

Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins were captured last weekend at a Panama City motel. Authorities say they used forged court orders to get them released from the Franklin Correctional Institution in the Panhandle. The forged orders cut their prison sentences from life to 15 years.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating who wrote the phony court documents and how they got into the judicial system. Both men were convicted of murders in the Orlando area.

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