Sheriff claims mix-up landed Harrison Co. jail on federal watch - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Sheriff claims mix-up landed Harrison Co. jail on federal watch list

A mistake somewhere along the line led to the Harrison County jail being included the federal list. (Photo source: WLOX) A mistake somewhere along the line led to the Harrison County jail being included the federal list. (Photo source: WLOX)
Honduran native Alexander Morales was released from the Harrison County jail Feb 2. (Photo source: Harrison County Sheriff’s Department) Honduran native Alexander Morales was released from the Harrison County jail Feb 2. (Photo source: Harrison County Sheriff’s Department)
HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

A new federal report mistakenly includes the Harrison County jail on a list of facilities that released immigrants living in the country illegally. 

But, facts show that information is incorrect.    

“We did everything the right way. It's just a mistake on ICE's [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] part that needs to be corrected,” said Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson

A report from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security agency says the county jail released a Honduran native, despite the fact that ICE had a detainer on that individual.

“This report basically states that on Feb. 2, we did not abide by the federal laws of releasing an immigrant to ICE,” said Sheriff Peterson. “That we released him just back into the public, is what this report is saying that was sent out. The truth is that we released him to ICE.”

The undocumented man at the center of the mix-up is 36-year-old Alexander Morales, who was arrested by Biloxi police on Christmas Day of 2016 for driving under the influence.

He spent 39 days at the Harrison County jail.

“The truth to it is that we released him to ICE, so he was released to immigration to be transferred back to his country. So it's just [that] the report's wrong," said Peterson. "We're just trying to know that ICE knows this, and the public knows this."

An ICE official who did not wish to be identified confirmed to WLOX that Harrison County should not be on the list, and that ICE did indeed pick Morales up from the jail.

However, no explanation as to what caused the mistake was given. 

“It could have serious repercussions," said Peterson. "We just came off a court injunction on federal inmates. We've since got our federal inmates back in our facility, the last thing I want is DOJ to call me and say 'If you're releasing federal inmates without just cause, we're going to pull our federal inmates from you.'”

The sheriff understands everybody makes mistakes, but he wants it to be clear that his department did nothing wrong.

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