Victims in one west Texas community were terrified yesterday when a computer glitch sent out erroneous alerts about incarcerated offenders
By Erica Morse
Publisher, Victims News Online
Updated 11:30 a.m., January 24, 2023
(MITCHELL COUNTY, TEXAS) — Residents in one west Texas community were shaken yesterday when a computer error notified victims of violent crimes that their offenders had been released from custody.
The VINELink victims’ notification system sent alerts regarding 74 inmates currently housed at the Mitchell County, Texas, Detention Center, falsely stating that all offenders had been released due to ‘sentence served’. The alerts, sent via text message, automated phone calls and email, were sent to anyone signed up to receive updates. The system is designed to notify victims of violent crimes when an offender has been released.
One of those alerts was sent to our team regarding an inmate we closely monitor for updates, leading us to investigate the matter. The alert, sent via text message at 12:07 p.m., stated, ‘SHAWN ADKINS was released from custody on 01/23/2023. The release reason is: Sentence served. In an emergency call 911. For more information, call 325-728-5261″.
Adkins is currently incarcerated at the Mitchell County Jail awaiting trail in April of this year for the felony murder and concealment of 13-year-old Hailey Dunn in 2010. Adkins is being held on $2 million bond.
Hailey’s father, Clint Dunn, was immediately concerned when the text message was received. “What happened”? Dunn asked VNO. “Where IS HE? Was he transferred to another facility? Released accidentally? Did he make bond? Was there a medical situation? I didn’t know what to think and was hoping it was a mistake, but we needed someone to tell us that”.
Repeated calls to Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office were met with a refusal to address the situation. Messages left for Sheriff Patrick Toombs went unanswered.
After receiving phone notifications throughout the night, Dunn tasked this team with finding answers. A call to VINELink direct showed that the entry had been made at the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office. A follow-up call to MCSO was met with a refusal to discuss the matter and we were transferred to the detention center.
A jail administrator spoke with our team and advised that a computer glitch created the problem. The administrator, who did not give his name to VNO, stated that during a VINELink software upgrade, all 74 inmates listed at the jail were erroneously removed from the system, and their status was changed to ‘released, sentence served’. However, once the error was caught and the inmates were re-entered into the system, no follow-up messages or notifications were sent, causing victims to think their offenders were out of custody.
If you have questions regarding an offender status in Mitchell County, Texas, please call 325-728-5261.