Steven Lawrence Wright
Steven Lawrence Wright. Courtesy Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

With the county offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to his capture, the search continued Wednesday for an inmate who was mistakenly released by the sheriff’s department while awaiting trial on charges stemming from a 2011 killing in Pasadena.

Steven Lawrence Wright, 37, of Pasadena was released from the sheriff’s Inmate Reception Center at 12:55 p.m. Saturday, according to the sheriff’s department. Sheriff’s officials didn’t detect the error until about 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

Sheriff’s official said Wright, who had been in custody facing a murder charge, was sentenced to five days in jail last week after a contempt of court conviction. When he was transferred to the Inmate Reception Center from court, the paperwork sent with him contained an error, sheriff’s Cmdr. Keith Swensson said in comments reported by the Los Angeles Times.

The docket number for his contempt of court case was put in the box where his murder case should have gone, making it appear he was due to be released Saturday instead of being held without bail pending a trial, Swensson said. A clerk made a handwritten note with the correct information at the bottom of the form, but three Sheriff’s Department employees overlooked it and Wright was released, he said.

The Inmate Reception Center processes more than 100,000 releases annually and only a fraction of those are errors, Swensson said. In 2013, deputies accidentally released 24 inmates early, he said, adding that in 2014 it was down to 21, and last year that was cut to six.

L.A. jail officials have said they will launch “a critical incident review to make necessary improvements to the system.”

Wright was arrested April 7, 2011, as part of a gang sweep by Pasadena police. He is suspected in the Jan. 19, 2011, killing of Pasadena resident Donnell Taylor.

Wright was one of eight suspected gang members arrested in the sweep, which resulted from an investigation into a series of shootings, including Taylor’s killing and an attempted murder in Altadena on March 15, 2011.

Sheriff’s officials said they are coordinating with Pasadena police in their search for Wright.

Anyone with information on Wright’s whereabouts was urged to contact the sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau at (562) 946-7231. Information can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477, or by texting the letters TIPLA plus the tip to CRIMES (274637) or logging onto the website http://lacrimestoppers.org.

—City News Service

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