Thousands of inmates released on the streets after midnight

BRIGHTON, Colo. -- It's 1 a.m.

The temperature in Brighton is well below freezing and falling fast.

Uriah Wilson and about a dozen other inmates, who had been in custody all day inside the Adams County Detention Center, step into the pre-dawn darkness, wondering why jail guards chose this time to let them free.

"Two o'clock this afternoon I was supposed to be credited with time served and ready to go. And they waited until after midnight and kick me out? (I got) no jacket," Wilson said in the parking lot of the jail.

Court records show Wilson missed a court date after getting caught driving without a license and although he theoretically should have been released 11 hours earlier, he had to find his way home to Golden in the middle of the night.

DUI detainee Dominic Guerrero and probation violator Tyler Blair were in a similar jam.

Both were found in the jail parking lot. They had dead cellphones, their families are asleep, they have no money and neither could find a ride home.

"Right now, it’s like survival of the fittest," Guerrero said. "You gotta figure out how you’re going to get back to where you live."

“It’s the middle of December," Blair said. "If you don’t want crime period, like, why release at this time at night?”

Adams County Detention Center, 2 a.m.

Over a period of several months, there were plenty of “what the heck to I do now?” moments outside the Adams County Detention facility after midnight and before sunrise.

"For the unfortunate people, without money, they gotta kick rocks. It’s snowing now. What are you going to do?" DUI detainee Matt Toth said.

"I bonded out about 3 in the afternoon today and they’re just now releasing. I’d say it’s like 1:30 in the morning. Now it’s snowing. They just kicked us out the back door and said go on your way."

These kinds of scenarios occur frequently.

According to the Adams County Sheriff's Office, by policy, the jail releases inmates who have completed their sentences at 4 a.m.

Records show there were 16,383 releases between January to October 2017. Of those, 891 inmates were released between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., the period where Adams County said staff let "sentenced" inmates go.

That indicates the vast majority of detainees who are run through the jail and released are not convicts. Instead, they are people arrested and on hold temporarily.

That group includes those awaiting a court date or waiting for family or a bail bondsman to come up with enough money to guarantee they appear at a future court hearing.

Thousands released from jail after midnight

Jail time release records show about a quarter of all those released, 4,149 people, were let out between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

FOX31 chose to calculate that time period because that is when public transportation is shut down in the neighborhood of the jail.

RTD bus-route 120 through Brighton ends service for the night at 10:06 p.m. It's first run in the morning is just past 5 a.m.

The sheriff’s office provided a written detailed explanation of the middle of the night releases.

"The releasing of inmates held at the Adams County Detention Facility is an extensive process that has many factors. Our goal is to ensure accuracy, the safety of our community and that the rights of the inmates are being met," Sgt. Jim Morgan said in the statement.

Adams County said it offers indigent releases a backpack with supplies that includes a bus token.

"We do not 'push' these inmates out of our building and in fact allow them to wait for rides or deal with inclement weather when necessary," Morgan wrote.

"If an inmate stays in the lobby for an extended period of time, our staff will reach out and try to assist the inmate with resources."

Some inmates said that courtesy was not their experience.

“They got people in there on oxygen tanks. Can’t walk. No ride home," released inmate Santiago Salas said. "One in the morning. Our options are one call or a bus token and they didn’t even give us that.”

Cold weather with late-night releases are concerning to the American Civil Liberties Union.

But perhaps more alarming to attorneys for the group are the long delays, reported by inmates, between the time they post bond and the time they are set free.

"The jail is being extremely short-sighted that their responsibility ends when they open the door for someone to walk out of the jail. It’s just not the case. The jail has some responsibility to be sure they are not releasing somebody into a set of conditions that may be dangerous," ACLU legal director Mark Silverstein said.

"When someone has posted bond, they have a legal right to release. They don’t have legal right when the jail gets around to it. They have a legal right to release as soon as whatever administrative steps are taken. And I doubt that’s going to be 12 or 14 hours."

The Brighton Police Department patrols the neighborhoods surrounding the Adams County Detention facility.

The statistician for the department, an officer who patrols the streets and publicly available crime databases found the neighborhood around the jail is a higher crime area.

Adams County Detention Center

However, those familiar with crime patterns said recently released inmates have been rearrested committing new crimes. But those alleged crimes were committed by those persons after being released during the day and at night.

All Adams County commissioners  did not respond to requests for comment.

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