Incarcerations of innocent people mistaken for wanted suspects still are happening in Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Times reports. From May through July, at least six people were released from jail in Los Angeles County after authorities determined they had arrested the wrong person. The newspaper tells the story of Maria Hernandez, a retired house cleaner who was wrongly arrested for insurance fraud because she had the same name as a suspect.
In 2011, the Times found that such cases had occurred nearly 1,500 times in five years. The mistakes usually involved the victims of identity theft or people who shared the same name as suspects listed on outstanding arrest warrants. The problems were compounded when police agencies and jailers failed to check that the fingerprints of people arrested matched those of the accused criminals. In the Hernandez case, after more than two years, the state dismissed the case against her and said that it “deeply regrets the error.” Hernandez, who spent nearly two days in jail, still owes $2,000 to a bail bond company and $1,470 for a medical exam conducted at the direction of jail staff.