Why Ben Wallace’s two-day jail sentence lasted only 16 hours

Posted at 10:59 AM, Mar 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-19 18:46:59-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Former NBA and Virginia Union University basketball star Ben Wallace began serving his two-day jail sentence Tuesday afternoon after he was arrested and pleaded no contest to leaving the scene of a February SUV crash.

Wallace was released from Henrico jail at 6 a.m. Wednesday, 16 hours after he was initially booked, according to Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade.

Wade said the first day of the sentence is considered the day someone is booked, regardless of the time. The second day begins once the clock strikes midnight. Wallace was placed in the work release center, not a general population, Wade said.

"My office handled this situation as if it were anyone who committed this offense in Henrico County under similar circumstances," Henrico Commonwealth's Attorney Shannon Taylor said in a statement.

Wade told CBS 6 News reporter Sandra Jones that Wallace did not receive preferential treatment.

"He slept in the bed, ate the same food. We just put him in a location where we thought would best benefit the jail," Wade said. "He came in the jail in the booking area and was processed in and we put him in a bunk upstairs in the work release center."

When asked why Wallace was held in the work release center, Wade said that officials "decided to separate him from the regular inmate population just to make sure the jail didn't get disturbed."

Some Henrico residents CBS 6 News interviewed about the case were divided over whether Ben Wallace received special treatment.

"It is, but that's the way our system works, so what can you say?" Nathan Dew said.

Wallace turned himself in and was arrested Tuesday, more than one month after his SUV slammed into a fence outside a home in Henrico's West End. The homeowner told CBS 6 he saw a large man get out of the SUV and run off.

“It was dark, but it’s clear from here I saw one person trying to fight to get out of the car,” homeowner Silverio Acosta said in an interview last month. Once the man got out of the SUV, Acosta said he saw the man pick up and smash pieces of wood against the fence “because he was angry.”

CBS 6 reporter Sandra Jones is scheduled to speak with Sheriff Wade about the way this case was handled.