Eight inmates at the Prince George's County Correctional Center had been erroneously released since the problem-plagued facility opened in February.

County officials said yesterday that three clerks in the center's records section have been disciplined because of the mistakes.

Most of the inmates released were wanted in Prince George's or other jurisdictions for additional crimes such as driving while intoxicated, according to a Corrections Department source, and all were taken back into custody within a few days.

The inmate facing the most serious additional charge, the source said, was also the last one erroneously released. That incident occurred Sept. 18, when an inmate incarcerated last July in connection with a robbery of a fast-food restaurant in Cheverly and a shootout with county police was released on $10,000 bond although he was wanted by law enforcement officials in Arlington in connection with a robbery of another restaurant.

Prince George's Corrections Department officials said the inmate, Derek Lambert, 26, legally could not have been held because the department did not receive a written request from Arlington to detain him.

Arlington officials said they wrote to the Prince George's County Sheriff's Department shortly after Lambert's arrest, asking that he be held. Such a written notification is usually forwarded to the correctional center from the sheriff's department, a spokeswoman for the Corrections Department said. But in Lambert's case, she said, the department still had not received any paper work yesterday.

Lambert was rearrested Friday, a week after his release, and was being held at the center yesterday.

Prince George's Sheriff James Aluisi said yesterday that in Lambert's case his department followed the same procedure it had "for the last nine years," orally requesting that an inmate be detained.

Aluisi declined to say whether his department had sent a written request to hold Lambert.

The seven-month-old facility outside Upper Marlboro has been under siege by critics in the wake of three escapes and a critical Justice Department report that cited management deficiencies that could lead to escapes or other dangerous incidents.

The subject of its latest problem, mistaken inmate releases, arose last week after the County Council toured the center. Council member Sue V. Mills, who has been a vocal critic of the correctional center's operations, questioned Corrections Department Director Samuel F. Saxton about information she had received that indicated 11 inmates had been mistakenly released since the correctional center opened in late February.

Saxton's response was that he knew of "one or two" cases where inmates should not have been released.

"I think that one or two is too many," Mills said yesterday. "Obviously, they don't have their act together.

"They said {in Lambert's case} that their computer was down. Well, if their computer was down, then they need some kind of back-up system. That's part of security."

Christy Merenda, a corrections spokeswoman, said that when Lambert was released the department's computer was down. Had the system been working, Merenda said, employes would have been alerted about the oral request to hold Lambert and may have called Arlington or the Prince George's sheriff to ask that a written detainer be teletyped to the correctional center.

Lambert was picked up Friday by sheriff's deputies, said Aluisi, who added that the seven other inmates also were apprehended, all within three days of their release.

In some of the mistaken releases, clerks in the Corrections Department failed to inspect the inmates' case jackets to determine whether there were outstanding warrants on the individuals, county officials said. In those cases, the clerks have been disciplined and more closely monitored, officials said. The county declined to identify the clerks.

Tim Ayers, a spokesman for County Executive Parris Glendening, said that a more in-depth investigation is being conducted in each of the eight cases.

Asked where Glendening would make any administrative changes in the wake of the new revelation, Ayers referred to a news conference last week in which the county executive said he would make changes from "top to bottom" if improvements in the operation of the jail were not made as quickly as possible.