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Release of detainee needs official review

LAST year, authorities arrested Jeremy Carter, 32, of Athens, Tenn., after he allegedly tried to take a child from a vehicle near the Mound in South Charleston.

Kanawha County officials charged Carter with attempted kidnapping, and he remained in the South Central Regional Jail in lieu of $150,000 bond that Kanawha Circuit Judge Carrie Webster set Oct. 16.

On Thursday, officials inexplicably released Carter from jail under mysterious circumstances that deserve investigation and explanation.

It's a story so confusing that it rises to the bizarre.

Initially, Judge Webster took responsibility for the release. She said that on Feb. 28, she had signed about 20 dismissal orders for cases that were either inactive or moot.

But over the weekend, Webster offered a different version of the story in a statement to the press.

"I inadvertently took responsibility for the mistaken release of Jeremy Carter from the South Central Regional Jail last Thursday," she wrote.

Saying she was attempting "to provide leadership and direction," she then blamed Carter's departure from custody on the circuit clerk's office and the jail release form. She said she dismissed not the felony attempted kidnapping charge, but rather a motion by Carter's attorney seeking court approval of a psychiatric evaluation.

"It is the jail release form, and not the court's dismissal order, that triggered the mistaken release of Mr. Carter," she said.

This is a serious matter.

While Carter deserves the presumption of innocence - he has yet to be indicted - he is a sex offender who faces a serious charge. Carter was convicted in 2005 of statutory rape in Tennessee.

Webster's two versions of the story do not create public confidence. Judges, clerks and jail officials have to be very careful about who they release from jail because of the potential threat to public safety.

Will some controlling legal authority please look into this matter and tell the public exactly what happened and whose fault it was? The public needs to know what happened - and what steps will be taken to prevent a repeat.


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