St. Joseph County settles with wrongfully jailed former inmate

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A northern Indiana county has reached a financial settlement with a former inmate who was wrongfully jailed for more than 40 days after being charged in two counties for the same offense.

St. Joseph County’s commissioners recently approved a $12,500 settlement for Ian McQueen, 42, who was charged in both St. Joseph and Elkhart counties with stealing a car. He was kept in the St. Joseph County Jail for 43 days despite being sentenced to probation in Elkhart County for the same crime.

Officials blamed a lack of communication between the two counties’ court systems for the situation.

Court documents show McQueen stole a car in Mishawaka but was arrested for that offense by police in Elkhart. Two separate sets of charges were then filed in Elkhart and St. Joseph counties for the same offense, the South Bend Tribune reported.

McQueen pleaded guilty in the Elkhart case and was sentenced to probation in November 2020. However, because a warrant was issued for his arrest in the pending St. Joseph County case, police there were required to hold him in jail, said Pete Agostino, an attorney who represented the county commissioners in the settlement.

“This was not a sheriff issue or a jail issue,” he said. “There were a number of innocent factors that came together to produce something that should not have happened, frankly.”

St. Joseph County also settled a case in June in which a man was kept in jail 60 days past his sentence due to a “software glitch.” That man received $20,000 from county. Officials said McQueen’s case was unrelated to that glitch.

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