Dept. of Corrections responds after residents not alerted to inmates escape

DOC answers questions surrounding inmates escpae from work release center

DECATUR, Ala. - As promised, WZDX News continued to push for answers from the state Dept. of Corrections.

We asked questions after three inmates escaped a work release center Monday in Decatur.

People who live nearby wanted to know why they were not notified and what's being done to prevent more inmates from escaping.

"When tornadoes come, we have an alert system to let us know when bad weather comes, " said Franklin Elliott.

Franklin Elliott says he and his neighbors should have been warned when three inmates escaped from a Work Release Center near their homes, but they were not.
 
They also question security measures at the facility.

"I think they should review their security policy, " said Elliott.

I took those questions and more to the Department of Corrections, asking why alerts were not sent out, how the inmates escaped and if they are reviewing their polices?

Public Information Manager Bob Horton responded saying the public was notified of the escape through a news release instead of a direct alert from the facility.

The Dept. of Corrections has not responded to my question asking why a direct alert was not sent out.

Horton says law enforcement at every level were immediately notified.

"It's just scary you know, " said Franklin Elliott. 

One of the inmates, James Brown, was convicted of manslaughter for shooting and killing his father-in-law.

Questions surround how he was eligible for work release.

According to Horton, Inmates convicted of homicide or manslaughter qualify for minimum custody facilities, like work release centers, are eligible for parole within three years of their end of sentence or parole.

Brown would have been eligible for parole in December 2018, the two other inmates had parole hearings scheduled for April and November of 2019.

I was told the three men were able to escape after compromising the facility's perimeter fence, exactly how was not explained.

As for reviewing security measures., the Department of Corrections says it is investigating the escape which will include a review of security protocols at the facility.

The Alabama Dept. of Corrections tells WZDX it sets the criteria for assigning inmates to minimum custody facilities and reviews its policies annually.


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