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Prison officials act after escape



Published: Thu, August 2, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



LISBON -- Federal prison authorities are beefing up patrols and improving a resident notification system after last month's escape of two convicts. Federal Prison Warden Roy Morrison offered those assurances to Columbiana County commissioners during the panel's meeting Wednesday.

The warden was responding to concerns voiced by some residents after the July 21 breakout from the Elkton Federal Correctional Institution.

The men remain at large, though authorities say it's unlikely they are in the area.

More steps: Besides additional patrols of the fence surrounding the satellite low-security lockup from which the inmates fled, authorities also will install more razor wire on or near the fence, Morrison said.

Additional escape-prevention steps are planned, but Morrison declined to discuss them, citing security reasons.

He acknowledged to commissioners that a design flaw in the perimeter fence may have made it easier for the two inmates to bolt. He wouldn't elaborate on the flaw but said it will be remedied.

Some prison neighbors have complained they either were not told of the escape or learned about it hours later. "We need to do a better job of notifying local residents," Morrison said. "There were a few glitches," he said of the effort to inform about 20 residents.

Morrison, who took over as Elkton FCI warden several weeks ago, wouldn't say how many residents weren't notified or were told late.

Notification list: He said prison officials will update their notification list because some of the telephone numbers listed for residents were changed or are no longer working.

The prison's notification system provides for residents living near the Scroggs Road facility to be notified by phone or in person, or both, if they wish. Prison officials also will conduct a search of a local homeowner's property, if they ask for one.

Prison officials also leave residents fliers notifying them of escapes. But the fliers have been distributed only to people who are home when prison officials call.

In the future, the fliers will be left at the homes of local residents, even if they are not there. That way, when they return home and see the fliers, they will know immediately an escape has occurred, Morrison said.

He also addressed some prison-area residents' requests that inmates wear garments that more easily identify them as convicts, such as striped or bright orange clothing, instead of the khaki uniforms they wear now.

Morrison explained that the federal bureau of prisons dictates what inmates wear and he cannot change it.




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