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Officials investigating after Huntsville man with Down syndrome released from jail, found wandering the streets

WAAY 31 is working to get answers after a Huntsville man with Down syndrome was found wandering the streets after he was released from jail.

Posted: May 20, 2019 10:13 PM
Updated: May 20, 2019 10:52 PM

Madison County Jail officials told WAAY 31 they're investigating why a 25-year-old man with Down syndrome, Tanner Caldwell, was released in the middle of the night.

His sister, Tia Caldwell, said her brother was released from jail without any idea of how to get home or help, and she doesn't understand why he was allowed to leave alone in the first place.

Tanner Caldwell

"I feel like someone who isn't able to comprehend what they're signing shouldn't be able to sign," Tia Caldwell said.

Tia Caldwell hates the thought of her brother being allowed to wander aimlessly after being released from the Madison County Jail Thursday night around 11:30 p.m.

"It was so devastating to think of him on Memorial Parkway in the middle of the night," Tia Caldwell said.

Tanner Caldwell was arrested for trespassing on a neighbor's property. Huntsville police said five reports were filed by the neighbor after repeated attempts to keep Tanner Caldwell from coming over uninvited.

Tia Caldwell said her brother's reading ability is limited, so there's no way he knew what was gong to happen when he signed an unsecured bond.

"There would, I'm sure, be plenty of terms that he couldn't read or comprehend. I'm sure when he signed it, he didn't even know it meant he was leaving," Tia Caldwell said.

Tia Caldwell said she and Tanner Caldwell's mother are speaking with the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program on Tuesday to try to find a way to make sure this doesn't happen again to anyone with special needs.

"He doesn't know where he is. He doesn't have any way to get in touch with anybody," Tia Caldwell said.

Madison County Jail officials wouldn't tell WAAY 31 if they have a policy on releasing people with special needs from jail. However, they did say they are reviewing it, and they hope to release more information on the incident later this week.

"I just hope that they wouldn't ever allow a person with an intellectual disability to leave without them speaking with family first," Tia Caldwell said.

WAAY 31 also reached out to the Limestone County Sheriff's Office to find out if they have a policy on releasing people with special needs from jail. A spokesperson said they don't have a hard and fast policy, and they look at each instance on a case-by-case basis, because several factors play into the decision to release an inmate.

Those factors include whether the person is a danger to themselves or others, and, in a non-violent case like Tanner Caldwell's, jail crowding is also taken into consideration.

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