A man spent almost three years in a mental hospital in Hawaii before officials discovered they were holding the wrong man

In 2017 Joshua Spriestersbach fell asleep on a sidewalk while waiting for a meal outside a Honolulu homeless shelter. A cop found him and thought he was Thomas Castleberry, wanted on a 2006 drug. Spriestersbacher was arrested and sent to mental health hospital, where he was locked up for over two years.

Attorneys representing Spriestersbach said police never bothered to check to see if Spriestersbach's fingerprints matched Castleberry's. Nor did they check prison records, for if they had they would have learned that Castleberry was incarcerated in Alaska.

While Spriestersbach was in the Hawaii State Hospital he was forced to take psychiatric medication. The Hawaii Innocence Project eventually learned of Spriestersbach's situation and petitioned the court, saying, "The more Mr. Spriestersbach vocalized his innocence by asserting that he is not Mr Castleberry, the more he was declared delusional and psychotic by the HSH staff and doctors and heavily medicated. No one would believe him or take any meaningful steps to verify his identity and determine that Mr. Spriestersbach was telling the truth – he was not Mr Castleberry."

After officials were made to understand their mistake, they released Spriestersbach, returning the 50 cents he had in his pocket when he was arrested. AP said the Honolulu Attorney General's Office refused to comment.

[via AP]