Local News

Honesty Fails To Pay Off For Mistakenly Released Inmate

Posted February 2, 2006 5:10 a.m. EST

— A prison inmate told his jailers they were making a mistake when they released him, but his honesty was not rewarded Thursday when he was ordered to immediately return to jail to finish his sentence.

Devan Black, a former worker at Gospel Tabernacle Pentecostal Holiness Church in Dunn, was supposed to serve six months in a Greene County prison for molesting children, but in October, prison officials told him his prison sentence was over -- even though he still had three months left to serve.

Prosecutors reached a plea deal with Black last year after the boys he was accused of molesting would not testify.

"I think there are a lot of people in the prison system who -- if they thought they were getting out too early -- they'd keep their mouth shut and you wouldn't hear from them again," said Black's attorney, Tom Maher.

In court Thursday, Black said he told prison officials that their computers were wrong, but officials still released him. He later moved to Vermont and began working there. He met with his probation officer there and told him that he still had time on his sentence.

Finally, the state Department of Correction realized the clerical error and the court ordered Black to return to North Carolina to appear in court.

It was not immediately known exactly what date Black is expected to be released from prison.