Gadsden Sheriff Asks Judge To Dismiss Charges Over Inmate Furlough Program

Dec 15, 2014

Gadsden Co. Sheriff Morris Young
Credit Gadsden County Sheriff's Office

Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young says charges against him should be dismissed. It's the latest between the Sheriff and State Attorney Willie Meggs over who has the authority to grant temporary releases to jail inmates.

State Attorney Willie Meggs argues Gadsden Sheriff Morris Young is in contempt of court for releasing prisoners from jail without permission. Young argues he’s within his right as a Sheriff to grant furloughs as he sees fit. The issue came to a head earlier this year after an inmate out on a furlough assaulted his wife and threatened to kill her. After a series of postponements a hearing was held Monday. Byron Spires, a reporter with the Havana Herald, has been following the case closely. He says the case is tricky, because there’s nothing in state law that says what a sheriff can or can’t do when it comes to furloughs:

Byron: There’s just nothing there. I believe this will be a landmark case, especially for Florida and especially for sheriffs to where they can—whether they have the right to make those decisions.

Lynn: What will the judge have to decide? He will have to decide whether to dismiss the case as the sheriff’s attorneys argue, or to pursue it. Correct?

Byron: Absolutely. He told them from the very beginning of the almost two hour hearing today that he was not going to make a decision on that until he has the chance to go back, review it, go over the testimony and make a decision based on that. The only thing that happened today was the show cause. The whole thing, they want it thrown out. The state argues it has a case and wants the opportunity to present it.

It’s ironic, because both the state and the defense both basically implied or said ‘we need some way of knowing what a sheriff can do—in other words, can he create these furloughs...?’ And I kind of got the impression from listening to them that both sides want something said permanently. Let’s draw the line, and this is what the sheriff can do.”  

Two judges recused themselves from the case, and it’s now in the hands of Third Judicial Circuit Judge Julian Collins. He will decide whether to dismiss the case or allow it to continue, but he has not set a date for when he will rule.