Confidential data given to county board in error

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Steps have been taken to secure the juvenile detention lists again, officials said.

Local officials were working to secure lists containing names of juveniles held at the area detention center that were accidentally released this week.

The Southeast Missourian obtained a copy of the list containing names of 47 youths who stayed at the Cape Girardeau County Juvenile Detention Center in August. The list was attached to a reimbursement certificate given to the county board of commissioners Monday.

While the board needs to know the number of juveniles and the number of days each stayed for child-care reimbursement purposes, the names of the youths should not be released.

"As a commissioner, I have no need or desire to know the names of those kids," Commissioner Jay Purcell said.

According to Purcell, the names have been given to the board for at least a year and a half.

Juvenile officer Randy Rhodes said the board should never have been given the names and steps were being taken to secure the lists in which they were included.

The names of juveniles who have been accused of committing a class A or B felony may be released, but none of the youths named on the August list had done that, Rhodes said.

The lists given to the board should contain blacked-out names and case numbers for the youths, Rhodes said. At some point, that procedure was stopped.

"It's my mistake that it went over. But it's not publishable. Our mistake has been corrected," Rhodes said. He did not know how long the uncensored lists have been given to the board, but stressed that he would go through all the lists and remove any containing names not blacked out.

To his knowledge, no one but the Southeast Missourian has acquired the lists containing the youths' names.

Before the Southeast Missourian discovered the released names, it had never been brought to Rhodes' attention, he said. Rhodes attributed the error to a possible mistake that was never corrected.

Rhodes said procedures occasionally will, for one reason or another, "mysteriously disappear or change."

In addition to ensuring the juvenile names on reimbursement documents were secured, Rhodes said he will also check other files where the names could be included, such as files on attorney payment fees for indigent youths.

"I appreciate someone, anyone, pointing it out," Rhodes said of the released names. "I will make sure everything out there is pulled."

kmorrison@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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