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Mistaken Release Still Escape If You Do Not Turn Yourself In

The federal escape statute applies to prisoners who fail to turn themselves in after being mistakenly released, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit decided December 27, 2010.

Lonzell Gowdy was mistakenly released by Alabama prison officials. Gowdy had a federal sentence to serve after his Alabama sentence, but prison officials lost Gowdy’s federal detainer. Gowdy did not turn himself in.

Gowdy was charged with violating 18U.S.C§751(a), escape from federal custody. Gowdy argued that he did not escape because he was never in federal custody. The government argued that Gowdy was in constructive federal custody.

The court agreed with the government. “We hold that the custodial requirement of §751(a) is satisfied where a lawful judgment of conviction has been issued by a court against the defendant,” the court wrote.

See: United States v. Gowdy, No. 09-15999 (11th Cir. 2010).

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Related legal case

United States v. Gowdy