Colonie mother spends three days in jail after an error was made on an arrest warrant

April 25, 2019 02:45 PM

A mother from Colonie spent Easter weekend at the Albany County Jail instead of with her two sons and it was due to the wrong name being on an arrest warrant, as first reported by the Times Union.

“It’s obviously no place to spend a weekend let alone a holiday weekend,” said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple.


It all started last Friday when Colonie Police were called to a pizza shop for a troubled customer. That customer was Jessica Donovan. When police checked her name through their system, a Family Court warrant for her arrest came up. That’s when authorities arrested her and took her to the Albany County Jail.

“The agency arrested technically the right person, but the judge when he filled out the warrant put the wrong name down,” said Apple. “Put the respondent as opposed to the defendant.”

That Saturday a judge came in and Donovan was arraigned and bail was set. However, Sheriff Apple said the jail couldn’t release her.

"Our staff did not take the bail because it being a superior court warrant,” said Apple. “There's nothing really that could've been done because her name was the one that was to be arrested and brought forthwith in front of the Family Court Judge. Obviously family court is not in session.”

Donovan was released on Monday after seeing a Judge. Donovan declined to speak with us on camera. She did say she would like an apology for everything that transpired.

Sheriff Apple said he has spoken with several Judges since the incident and he hopes changes are made so this doesn’t happen again.

“I know that they’re going to sit down and make sure the rules are spelled out very clearly and then I would like to disseminate that information to the police department as well so they have it,” said Apple.

Lucian Chalfen the Director of Public Information for the Office of Court Administration released the following statement:

“What started out as a clerical error magnified into a very regrettable and Kafkaesque mistake. The name of the petitioner, as opposed to the respondent, ended up on the line ordering police to execute the warrant, which the Judge signed. He is mortified about what transpired and has been counseled by the Administrative Judge for the Judicial District covering Albany. A corrected warrant has since been issued. While it is difficult to mitigate human error, we are looking into the process to see about additional safeguards.”


Emily De Vito

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