UPDATE: Silverdale inmate released in case of mis-identification
By WRCB Staff
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
UPDATE: What is being called a case of mistaken identity may have led to the early release of a federal inmate here in Chattanooga, Wednesday.
Rodney Akins, 49, left Silverdale Detention facility Wednesday morning, he was later found with his family in Dunlap, Tennessee.
"I just think it's scary that they're accidentally releasing inmates, you know it could have been anybody," said McKaylan Phipps, Akins' niece.
Family members tell Channel 3, Rodney Akins was told he could check out of Silverdale Detention Center. Workers gave him clothes, a commissary check and even asked him for his social security number to be sure they had the right guy.
"We take full responsibility for that. It was not CCA that made the release. it was a Hamilton County worker," said Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger.
Akins walked 3 miles to the nearest restaurant for a phone, then called his dad for a ride. The two grabbed McDonald's breakfast, then headed home to Dunlap.
"I can't understand how they could of done that, made that big of a mistake," said Akins' father Ronnie Akins.
Akins was reunited with his 6 year old daughter. His dad says it all felt too good to be true and it was. Family members saw the mistake reported on the news and called Silverdale. Staff put them in touch with U.S. Marshals, who picked him up.
His family tells us saying goodbye for a second time was heartbreaking
"When he left he had to hug and kiss on his little daughter and left there crying. He thought he was going to stay out until his trial in the fall I guess," said Akins' father.
Ronnie says it was the family's attorney who told him it was a case of mistaken identity and the man who was supposed to have been released looks nothing like his son.
"I think they can't tell the difference in people," said Akins' father.
Families members identified the inmate who was supposed to have been released as a black male with a similar name and age.
"We made a mistake this morning and we'll critique that to see to it that it doesn't happen again," said Mayor Coppinger.
Akins' father tells says his son had prayed to see his daughter again and although he was surprised, he didn't have any reason to believe his release was a mistake.
"When they brought him out of cell it was like 2:30 in the morning and there must of been somebody asleep and just wanting to get it over with," said Akins' father.
"I can understand making mistakes but that's a bad mistake," said Phipps.
Akins is being held on federal drug charges in connection to a large methamphetamine operation. His case is scheduled to go to trial in August.
UPDATE: An apparent case of mis-identification led to the premature release of a federal inmate Wednesday morning from Silverdale Detention Facility in Chattanooga.
Rodney Akins, 48, had his Social Security number checked, was given his personal property, and released from the facility.
His name is similar to another inmate, who happens to be a black male. Akins is white.
Akins father picked his son up and brought him to his home in Sequatchie County. The two shared breakfast and saw reports that Akins had “escaped.”
Akins father tells Channel 3 that his son turned himself in to U.S. Marshals, who allowed him to gracefully say goodbye to his family before returning him to custody. His father said “Whoever let him out must have been asleep.”
PREVIOUS STORY: Rodney Akins, the federal inmate who was accidentally released Wednesday morning has been found in Dunlap, surrendering to U.S. Marshals.
Mayor Jim Coppinger tells Channel 3 that an accident on the part of a Hamilton County worker, not a Silverdale employee, was responsible for the release of a federal prisoner Wednesday morning.
A motion to continue his jury trial was made.
PREVIOUS STORY: Channel 3 has learned that a federal inmate at Silverdale was accidentally released from custody at the facility Wednesday morning.
An alert went out local authorities identifying the inmate as Rodney Akins, who was last seen wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans.
Akins was charged with five pending counts of conspiracy to distribute controlled substance and controlled susbstance distribute or dispense.
The Chattanooga Police Department is actively assisting in the search for the inmate.
Channel 3 spoke to Bianca Hudson, spokesperson for Silverdale, who declined to answer question and referred questions to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.
A spokesperson for the HCSO said they are also assisting in the search, but Silverdale is the lead agency in the search.