County officials pointing fingers as computer glitch led to almost 300 defendants being released

The judge's order specifically says more than 280 defendants had to be released, because they couldn't have a probable cause hearing within 48 hours. Federal law dictates that.

When FOX 26 asked for the list of defendants released, the Sheriff's Office and the DA's office pointed at each other. Finally, the sheriff's department said an open records request had to be filed, which gives them 10 business days to turn the information over or fight it.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Hundreds of jail inmates released due to computer glitch

Alex Bunin, Harris County's Public Defender, was the only county administrator who agreed to talk on camera.

"I looked at the list of folks she had named in there, and I looked at what they are charged with. It appeared to be on her list, all misdemeanors, non-violent misdemeanors, and were people that would have been released anyway," Bunin said.

The Public Defender shared the list with FOX 26. It has about 120 names, all misdemeanors, mostly DWIs.

RELATED: State senator, police union share outrage after nearly 300 Harris Co. suspects freed by computer glitch

Bunin says he has no knowledge of felony suspects and I believe that.

But look at some things Kim Ogg points out in her letter.

"On the first two days of the crisis, the JPC reached a high of approximately 250 prisoners in custody, causing great concern about the safety and welfare of the deputies' civilian staff and prisoners..." Ogg wrote in the letter.


She also points out the Jweb computer system, "crashed last Thursday night in a systematic failure that stretched into the weekend..."

With Ogg's number and the magistrate, how could no felony defendants be involved?

"This has happened before probably three or four times over the last several years, and we probably need a back up process for the District Attorney's to file charges timely without relying on computers," Bunin said. "That's the way things used to be in this county for decades, so I think it's time to review that."

All the defendants are supposed to be rearrested and have probable cause hearings.

"I tell you who it's really scary for, if you're a victim of domestic violence and the perpetrator is one of these 230 to 300 people that were released without any protective order, without any conditions saying stay away," said Andy Kahan with Crime Stoppers.

"It's possible that several hundred people will be able to get their cases dismissed, because they might have a viable claim that their constitutional rights were violated," said Criminal Defense Attorney Emily Detoto.


The man in charge of Universal Services which operates the Jweb computer program first agreed to an on camera interview, but backed out at the last minute.

However, he did send a statement to FOX 26 saying, 

"On Mar. 24 at 7 p.m., during a planned network hardware change to improve system bandwidth, the network core stopped functioning. The restart process took approximately 45 minutes to troubleshoot and restore the network.

During this time, data remained secure, however our customers lost the ability to access a very small percentage of databases.

County agencies rely on Universal Services to ensure that information technology systems are functioning properly, and we take seriously the impact this network outage has had on our customers. Our teams have been working 24/7 to ensure our customers regain access to their databases.

We are investigating the root cause of the outage and will take the necessary steps to ensure technical failures like this don't happen again. We also look forward to working with the justice community and law enforcement agencies to ensure we have systems in place that avoid a single point of failure. "