ACCIDENTIAL release from Tulsa Co Jail

Thursday, May 31st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Staff members at the Tulsa County Jail made a mistake this week and set an accused child molester free. It comes on the heels of the mistaken release earlier in May of the so-called "ponytail bandit."

KOTV's Lori Fullbright says the jail takes full responsibility for this week's mistake, saying human error is bound to happen sometimes, but, they don't want people blaming them for the ponytail guy's release, since that was someone else's blunder. 37-year-old Clifford Meano must've thought he won the lottery when the jail staff told him he was free to, know full well he was facing 11 charges of molesting a child. What happened was during his preliminary hearing Tuesday, four of his 13 original charges were dropped and two more added. The jail staff interpreted that to mean all the charges were dropped. Marvin Branham with CCA: "Should it have raised questions. Sure, it was 7 o'clock and the courts were closed and no one was there, but they could've called their supervisors." Meano didn't make it far; he was picked up near Cleveland, Oklahoma within about 12 hours.

The ponytail bandit, Steven Holley was released weeks ago and is still on the loose, but, that time, it wasn't the jail staff, it was the feds, they were late telling the jail to hold Holley on federal charges. "Not many people realize 35,000 people get released from here properly every year. We check in 100 people and let go 100 people every day and sometimes, a mistake may be make." The jail's been operating for 2 years, out of 70,000 releases, 10 people were let out by mistake, and five of those were based on someone else's orders. The jail says it doesn't want the public perception that they're inept or uncaring. "I think the frustration the public feels is the same as people inside the facility feel when someone gets out when they shouldn't be released."

Branham points out that accidental releases happen all across the nation, but their goal is to make sure it happens as few times as possible.