It’s been a bad week for Joseph Harrison. His arrest by local law enforcement was broadcast throughout the community after a search for Harrison led to a soft lockdown of the county schools.
The search and subsequent capture drew public interest, but real shock came after Harrison was released from jail only a few short hours after his arrest. He was arrested on new charges a few days later, and as of presstime, remains in the Adair County Regional Jail.
It all started last Wednesday, Nov. 8, around 11:45 a.m. when Sheriff Josh Brockman got a call from a resident on Oxford Place who said he witnessed a male trying to break into his home. He gave chase but lost the culprit in the woods.
Brockman was able to identify the suspect as Harrison, 36, who was already under investigation for other break-ins and the theft of two automobiles.
Multiple law enforcement agencies converged on the area, and Harrison was spotted a couple hours later at Burton’s Car Care Salvage near the corner of the bypass and Greensburg St. County, city and Kentucky State Police officers surrounded the area in an attempt to locate Harrison.
The search went on for several hours, with the salvage yard and a nearby wooded area offering a number of hiding spots. Schools remained on soft lockdown until students were released on a normal schedule.
Officers began pulling away from the area, hoping Harrison would think it was safe to come out of hiding. Shortly thereafter, he was spotted, captured and arrested.
The sheriff’s department booked him on two felony charges of receiving stolen property between $1,000 and $10,000 and two misdemeanor charges – one charge of criminal trespass, 1st degree and a charge of fleeing or evading police on foot, 2nd degree. More felony charges were pending.
Hours later, however, Harrison was released from the Adair County Regional Jail based on an administrative release.
On Saturday, Harrison was arrested again, this time on charges of theft by unlawful taking, between $1,000 and $10,000, and receiving stolen property, between $1,000 and $10,000. Sheriff Brockman said they are awaiting DNA evidence to determine the possibility of further charges.
Harrison was lodged in the Adair County Regional Jail, and this time he is being held on a $10,000 cash bond.
The Community Voice learned that Harrison was originally released based on an Administrative Release Program authorized by the Supreme Court from 2017. The order gives pretrial officers the authority to release defendants based on specific criteria without contacting a judge.
The pretrial program is designed to expedite the pretrial release of low-to moderate-risk defendants charged with nonviolent, non-sexual misdemeanors. Local rule allows judges to include certain non-violent, non-sexual Class D felony charges.
The program includes a measurement for “risk assessment,” which considers if a defendant has a risk of flight or failure to appear or risk of anticipated criminal conduct or new criminal activity while on pretrial release pending adjudication.
District Judge Michael Loy was contacted and provided information about the pretrial process but said as a judge he cannot talk about specific cases. He did share information about the Administrative Release Program and recommended speaking with the Administrative Office of the Courts.
The Community Voice reached out to AOC to learn more about the risk assessment program and how the specific charges Harrison originally faced are measured. The Voice was asked to send the request via email, which was done on Thursday, Nov. 9. No response has been received.
You can learn more pretrial services online at https://kycourts.gov/Court-Programs/Pretrial-Services/Pages/default.aspx
By Sharon Burton