Felon release could have been avoided with pre-trial services - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Felon release could have been avoided with pre-trial services

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YAKIMA, Wash.-- NBC Right Now continues to ask questions about a man who didn't return to jail after being let out to see his dying mother. Jacob Lucey is back behind bars after an intense man hunt.

Lucey was granted a furlough in October to visit his mother. A furlough is basically a 24-hour pass to leave jail without supervision. And after he didn't return police had to track him down. 

But should he have been released in the first place?

"It is a little troubling because the average person doesn't expect that the system fail in quite that magnitude of a manner," said Kristina Carmack who lives in Yakima.

It's a failure police say cost taxpayers thousands of dollars in man power. A three day search for Jacob Lucey, 29, that could have been avoided.

"There's supposed to be checks and balances in the system. I think in this case that didn't occur," said Yakima County Court Administrator Harold Delia.

Delia says the decision to release Lucey was the wrong one. And while it was signed off by a judge and prosecutor, more questions should have been asked before he was let go.
"We really thought that when these people are released, or they want to be released, there should be an investigation of what they're saying and why they should be released," said Delia.

Up until about three years ago, Yakima County courts would investigate all claims before a suspect was released. But because of budget cuts, those pre-trial services had to be eliminated.

Delia says the courts are working with county commissioners to get them back to avoid these situations.

But for right now, many people are still scratching their heads, wondering why neither the prosecutor nor the judge demanded safety precautions before Jacob Lucey was let out.

"If you don't want a pre-trial system, an ankle bracelet, some sort of escort would have been far less expensive than the manpower to hunt him down after he didn't come back," said Carmack.

Lucey appeared in court Monday afternoon. He's still facing car theft charges and will be sentenced Tuesday, where he could get up to five years in prison. He'll also likely see more charges for not returning once his furlough was up.