Four Texas Inmates Escaped Prison Camp by Fooling Guards with Dummies
Call it a cliché, but four inmates at a federal prison camp in Beaumont were not only able to escape, but also managed to fool guards into not looking for them all night by placing dummies in their beds.
Did You Get That Memo?
The Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General recently issued a memo about security concerns at Federal Bureau of Prisons camps, including unsecured doors, alarms that don't work or can be easily tampered with by inmates, and even areas without working security cameras or fencing.
The Great Beaumont Escape
The memo went out after it was learned that four inmates at a satellite prison camp near the Federal Correctional Complex in Beaumont were able to get out and breathe the free air for over 12 hours before anyone even realized they were missing.
The document doesn't detail how they escaped (they didn't want to write a WikiHow on prison breaks, I guess), but said an investigation revealed the problems mentioned above: unsecured doors, crummy alarms, etc.
My guess is that these issues were no secret to the inmates, and they took full advantage. It wouldn't have taken a genius to come up with an escape plan if security is that lax. (Or they had help, but I'll leave that alone.)
Out All Night
According to the DOJ, there are at least five official inmate counts every 24 hours. The counts at 4 PM and 10 AM are called "standing counts", at which every inmate must be seen standing up in order to be counted.
There are overnight counts at midnight, 3AM, and 5AM, during which two guards are supposed to take turns counting prisoners in their bunks.
So, how did these inmates get away with being out all night without anyone looking for them?
Cover For Me, Dummy
DOJ investigators learned that prisoners will often leave dummies in their beds to fool the guards, have other inmates pose as them during the overnight counts, or both.
During the overnight count, guards are discouraged from using excessive light and waking the prisoners, so they just shine their flashlights in and count what appears to be someone in their bunk.
It's kinda silly, but you can picture a couple of bored guards going down the routine checklist being duped if the dummy is covered up and looks like a guy sleeping with a blanket pulled over his head.
Sometimes They Come Back
Something interesting that caught my eye in the memo is that DOJ officials were told that two of the inmates left to grab contraband to bring back to the prison camp.
So while you may have envisioned four guys sneaking around the countryside trying to find a way home so they can lay low, it's more likely that the two authorities could get more information out of planned to bring back goodies.
Hey, maybe it's more lucrative to sell black market goods inside than to do honest work.
Watch for Flesh
Ok, I know this is a serious issue, but the DOJ memo lists some recommendations for tightening security and this bit me chuckle:
Staff will not conduct a count based upon movements, sounds, or configurations from a covered bed. Staff will ensure they are positively observing human flesh before counting any inmate.
Imagine if the inmates start sneaking in Silly Putty and covering their dummies with it.
I know, I know, I shouldn't give them any ideas, but the image is in my mind now and I can't help but smile.