ST. GABRIEL — State corrections officials say they are investigating how a man who escaped a West Baton Rouge Parish work-release facility to commit a crime in Baton Rouge last year was mistakenly released Thursday from the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center.
But Emanuel Ray Jones’ latest taste of freedom proved short-lived. By noon Friday, he was back in police custody and headed to the West Baton Rouge Parish Detention Center to serve additional time for his Nov. 8 escape from the parish facility.
“His parole officer found him at the last known address he had listed in Covington,” Col. Richie Johnson, of the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, said Friday.
The Nov. 8 escape from the parish’s work-release facility came to light after Jones was identified as a suspect in robbing, kidnapping and threatening to kill a man early that morning when he was supposed to be in the guarded parish facility.
This time, there was no escape. State corrections officials let him out of the prison but say that was a mistake.
Johnson said the Sheriff’s Office was alerted to Jones’ release about 9 a.m. Friday and responded by deploying members of their fugitive apprehension team to try to re-capture the 30-year-old inmate.
Pam Laborde, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, said Jones’ release from custody is under investigation.
This marks the second incident in recent months in which an inmate apparently was released in error from a state correctional facility.
Nearly three months ago, a man convicted of manslaughter was accidentally released by the corrections department only a few years into his 40-year sentence and traveled to the Atlanta area before officials were able to take him back into custody.
A later internal investigation by the corrections department found the man was released because Dixon Correctional Institute, where he was being held, did not receive his full criminal records. In addition, a Dixon employee failed to pull Johnson’s State Police rap sheet before he was released, a standard procedure that would have revealed his criminal history, according to the corrections department’s final report.
In the latest incident, Laborde said, corrections department records had Jones set for a Jan. 28 release date after he served part of his 10-year sentence, starting in 2011, on charges out of St. Tammany Parish of possession of a firearm and carrying of a concealed weapon by a felon.
However, because of the detainer and pending escape charge for his escape from the West Baton Rouge Parish work-release facility, Laborde said, Jones should have been turned over to the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office on Thursday instead of being released from the corrections department’s custody.
Laborde said in a prepared statement that it appears staff at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center “had information that should have prevented Jones from being released from custody,” adding that the corrections department “will take necessary and appropriate disciplinary action” once its investigation is completed.
Jones also is facing additional counts of armed robbery, carjacking, aggravated battery, second-degree kidnapping and felon in possession of a firearm from the Baton Rouge Police Department after he was accused of kidnapping a man in the parking lot of a Radisson Hotel at 2445 S. Acadian Thruway in Baton Rouge.
Laborde on Friday said Jones hasn’t been booked by the Baton Rouge Police Department on those counts.
The victim in the Nov. 8 incident told authorities he overheard a man, later identified as Jones in a photo lineup, and several of Jones’ accomplices saying they had to kill him and burn his car. The plan was foiled when the victim was able to escape after another driver crashed into the back of the victim’s automobile along River Road and Brightside Lane.
Given his agency’s own experience with Jones getting out of a West Baton Rouge Parish work-release facility, Johnson was reluctant to find fault with state corrections officials.
“We’re probably not in any position to criticize an agency for someone leaving their facility that shouldn’t have,” he said.
Two deputies working at the West Baton Rouge Parish facility were suspended without pay after an internal probe by the Sheriff’s Office discovered the absence of Jones and two other inmates never showed up on any paperwork because one of the newer guards was allowing another inmate to perform his routine head counts.
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.