The D.C. Corrections Department, worried that it may not know the true identities of some inmates, is considering new identification procedures for everyone coming into the D.C. jail.
The move comes after department officials learned that a man they had held for five months until he escaped from a halfway house in May was wanted on two warrants here for walking away in 1986 from a St. Elizabeths Hospital unit for the criminally insane.
The man, Albert Richard Holland Jr., 32, was arrested last Sunday in Florida on charges that he killed a police officer who tried to arrest him in the beating of a woman.
Before walking away from a North Capitol Street halfway house on May 7, Holland had been in the D.C. jail under the name Roberto Diego Gomez. The name was discovered to be an alias only after Holland was arrested in Florida.
When Holland was arrested here last Nov. 28, he gave police the name Gomez and he was fingerprinted. Copies of the prints were sent to the FBI. But the D.C. police's identification system failed to show that Gomez was Holland. Sources said the poor quality of Holland's original prints, taken in 1976, may have prevented their entry into the electronic files in the early 1980s.
After the November arrest, the FBI identification system revealed that Gomez was Holland, but that information never was entered into the man's police or court records here.
The D.C. corrections system once maintained its own fingerprint identification system, but ended it about 1985. Sources said that all the master fingerprint files -- including those of such inmates as Al Capone -- were destroyed.
Since then, corrections officials have relied on police and FBI checks for identification of inmates. All suspects detained by the local court system are fingerprinted at the jail, according to Elin Jones, a department spokeswoman, but the prints are used only to verify that the person delivered to the jail was the person arrested.
Jones said late Friday that corrections officials hope to have a new identification system to double-check police and FBI checks in place by the first of the year.
"We are considering new techniques, including a thumbprint system and one using the characteristics of a person's retina," Jones said.
Holland's arrest record in the District stretches back to at least 1976, when he was 18, and includes at least eight incidents and numerous charges, according to records at D.C. Superior Court and U.S. District Court.
He was sent to St. Elizabeths in 1981 after pleading not guilty by reason of insanity in 1981 to charges stemming from an April 1981 incident in which he approached a woman for help in starting his car, then robbed her and stole her car.
Court records show that he walked away from St. Elizabeths in March 1982, and three days later again used the stalled-car ploy to steal a woman's car.
Holland was held at St. Elizabeths until June 1986, when he again walked away from the hospital.
Authorities said last week that they did not know how Holland spent his time from then until he was arrested in November on Park Road NW in what sources said was a routine drug arrest.
Holland, under the name Gomez, was ordered placed in intensive supervised detention after a March 30 hearing before D.C. Superior Court Judge Cheryl Long. On May 4, he was transferred to Community Correctional Center No. 1 at 1050 North Capitol St. NW. He signed out to visit a nearby government office on May 7 and never returned.
Holland was arrested last Sunday in Pompano Beach, Fla., in the beating of a woman. But a short time after taking Holland into custody, the arresting officer radioed that he had been shot. The officer, Scott Winters, 28, died about an hour later. Several minutes after the shooting, other officers arrested Holland about a block away.