State News

NC prison worker quits after releasing inmate by mistake

Posted July 20, 2011 6:58 a.m. EDT
Updated July 21, 2011 8:57 a.m. EDT

— A North Carolina prison worker has resigned after mistakenly releasing an inmate accused of kidnapping and raping a woman the next day.

Authorities say caseworker James Smith Jr. was supposed to release Antwaan Clanton, 38, to Halifax County deputies on July 14 after he finished serving 16 months at the Odom Correctional Facility on fraud and drug charges. He had outstanding arrest warrants in Halifax County for a 2010 break-in.

Instead, Smith failed to check a court database for pending charges, and Clanton was set free, prison officials said.

Roanoke Rapids police said that Clanton carjacked a woman who had stopped to rest in the parking lot of the Halifax Medical Center around 1 p.m. on July 15. He forced her into the back seat, drove to a location where he raped her and then left her and the car in the Carolina Crossroads area, police said.

Clanton was arrested later that night by Halifax County sheriff's deputies, who said they found him carrying bags of items stolen during a home break-in in Weldon earlier that day.

Clanton was charged with first-degree rape, first-degree sex offense, first-degree kidnapping, breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, possession of stolen goods, injury to real property and resisting a public officer.

He remains in the Halifax County Detention Center under a $281,000 secured bond. It was unclear if he had an attorney.

Clanton has more than three dozen convictions dating to 1991 and has spent more than 13 years of the past 20 behind bars, according to state Department of Correction records.

He has numerous break-in and larceny convictions, as well as assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a child, assault on a female and selling drugs, records state.