San Quentin bungled inmate's release

California’s inspector general on Wednesday said employees at San Quentin State Prison failed to follow policies in the unsupervised release of an inmate who police say then stabbed a 14-year-old San Francisco girl.

The errors included prison employees mistaking Scott Chris Thomas — who is white — for another inmate who is black and has a different first name.

Thomas, 26, was supposed to be picked up by his parole officer in Los Angeles County last May. Instead, he was dropped off two days early at a transit center in downtown San Rafael, north of San Francisco.

The next day, San Francisco police say he entered the Creighton’s Bakery in Diamond Heights and stabbed the teenager multiple times and a 60-year-old man who tried to help her. Both victims are recovering.

Thomas is awaiting trial on charges of attempted murder, child endangerment and assault with a deadly weapon.

“The department’s mission is to protect public safety, but in this instance they failed their mission on several fronts,” Inspector General Matthew Cate said in releasing his report after a four-month investigation that was requested by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Employees should have noticed that Thomas was repeatedly labeled a career criminal and dangerous inmate who required special conditions for his release, Cate found.

He initially served six months in prison for grand theft auto and hit-and-run between 2000 and 2001.

Thomas had nine subsequent parole violations, including for grand theft, petty theft and vandalism. He also served extra prison time for assaulting two prison guards, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He most recently was returned to prison in January 2007 before his release last May.

But because he was mistaken for another inmate, Thomas was released to Alameda County law enforcement. Alameda County immediately recognized the mistake and returned him to San Quentin, where prison employees nevertheless rereleased him with no supervision.

San Quentin Warden Robert Ayers ordered that employees be retrained, instituted another level of review before inmates are paroled and created a checklist to make sure procedures are followed, Thornton said. — AP

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