Corrections Secretary Michael Crews sent a letter to judges saying prison officials will now verify with judges — and not just court clerks — before releasing prisoners early.
Sen. Greg Evers, who chairs the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said he spoke to Perry on Friday and that the judge will offer a proposal in which judges review all early release documents before court clerks send them to prisons.
"They're working on some fail safe plans," said Evers, a Pensacola Republican. "If the court administrator put these plans in place throughout the state it will solve the problem."
New measures were implemented in the Palm Beach County Clerk of Courts Office after workers there thwarted the release of a burglary suspect from forged paperwork in 2011. The changes included only accepting judge's orders from the judge's assistant and to treat them especially carefully, said Cindy Guerra, chief operating officer for the office.
"That situation in Orlando, that just doesn't happen here," said her colleague, Louis Tomeo, the office's director of criminal courts. "Our clerks, I venture to say, would have picked up on that easily."
As the Florida court system transitions into a paperless era, special email accounts have been set up for judges. The deadline to go completely electronic is February, though it has already been moved back several times.
Across the country, prisoners have had varying success trying to escape using bogus documents. In 2010, a Wisconsin killer forged documents that shortened his prison sentence and he walked free, only to be captured a week later. In 2012, a prisoner in Pennsylvania was let out with bogus court documents, and the mistake was only discovered months later.
Jenkins, 34, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the 1998 killing and botched robbery of Roscoe Pugh, an Orlando man.
State Attorney Jeffrey Ashton said he learned Jenkins had been released when Pugh's family contacted his office. They reviewed the paperwork and found that it was a fake, then notified law enforcement.
Later, they discovered Walker's release documents were also fake.
"It is now clear that the use of forged court documents to obtain release from prison is an ongoing threat which all law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, court clerks and prison officials must address and stop," Ashton said.
Walker, 34, was convicted of second-degree murder in a 1999 slaying in Orange County. He told investigators that 23-year-old Cedric Slater was bullying him and he fired three shots intending to scare him.
Farrington reported from Tallahassee.
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