Sheriff’s department conducts internal investigation after inmate accidentally released

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LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - The Lauderdale County Sheriff had an internal investigation conducted and returned Monday after a correctional deputy released an inmate by accident last week.

Michael Prater was let free Thursday morning. Chief Deputy Richard Richey said he was considered dangerous. Deputies took him back into custody Friday night.

"We have policies," said Sheriff Rick Singleton. "If policy would have been followed, this would not have happened. One thing you'll never be able to eliminate is human error."

Singleton said it was a clerical error that caused the incident. Data that was entered on one end did not get through in time to the deputy who let Prater go.

He's back in custody now, thanks to the help of the US Marshals and 'One Place of the Shoals' domestic violence unit.

"They were very, very aggressive in tracking him down. My hat's off to those deputies for the fine work they did in locating him."

Prater was initially behind bars on domestic violence and child abuse charges.  That's why deputies with 'One Place' took charge of finding him.

"People are going to make mistakes," Sheriff Singleton said. "I think this was a valuable lesson learned for our corrections deputies. I think they understand how critical it is, how important it is that they do what they're supposed to do when they're supposed to do it."

The investigation was internal, so the Sheriff could release very few details on the findings. Those findings could determine whether or not to fire the deputy who was in charge.