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Hundreds in Colorado arrested by mistake in seven-year span

Over a recent seven-year period, more than 500 people were arrested and jailed in Colorado due to mistakes by law enforcement officials, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

A motion filed in civil rights litigation states that the number of arrests involving a wide variety of crimes -- including sex offenses, burglary, drug offenses and others -- could be higher, but lack of records of the mistaken Denver arrests makes this difficult to prove.

If Denver officials had checked the basic identifying information prior to arrests, many could have been avoided and the suspects would not have had to spend days in jail, according to the ACLU of Colorado. A motion has been filed seeking a favorable judgment for plaintiffs involved in the arrests, some of which affect Colorado Springs residents.

According to the ACLU, a number of the arrests were made of people of the wrong gender and the wrong race, as well as arrests of people decades younger than the individual actually being sought. According to a media outlet, some of these suspects had the wrong date of birth, or their fingerprints didn't match those of the suspect on file.

One 34-year-old man jailed for burglary and a sexual assault reported that he was arrested on a warrant for another man. While in jail, he missed work and was docked pay.

Even more important, he reports that he's now having trouble with his girlfriend and is afraid of losing his job because of the implications of being arrested for sexual assault.

Law enforcement officials admit mistakes are sometimes made in suspect identification, but deny that they're deliberately indifferent to the problem.

Source: ABA Journal: "ACLU Says Hundreds Have Been Arrested and Jailed in Denver on Warrants for Other Suspects," Martha Neil, Jan. 9, 2012

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