Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The (not so) Great Escape

Bexar County jail hard to escape from?

Yeah, unless you just say you're some one else and walk out the front door.

But that problem is fixed apparently. Well, at least until the next time.

Bexar County Jail inmates continue to attempt escape
Selena Hernandez: KENS 5 Eyewitness News

In a facility that houses more than 4,100 inmates, those looking for a way out may only find there's no easy escape from the Bexar County Jail.

The accidental release of an inmate in October 2007 initiated the need for new inmate identification cards and tighter monitoring.

However, some inmates are still trying to beat the system. They have been caught in unauthorized areas and cited for attempted escape.

"When we find them in an area that they're not suppose to be (in), we write them up for attempted escape," Capt. Mark Thomas said. "We question them. We try to determine what's going on."

In a rare, behind-the-scenes look, jail administrators let KENS 5 cameras into the jail's master control room, where guards carefully monitor the movements of all inmates.

"At this point right here, we have an officer stationed there that monitors how they're going. Nobody stays in the area," Thomas said, pointing to a section of the jail on a monitor.

So far this year, there have been six escape attempts. All of the inmates were found in areas they didn't belong.

"Because we're dealing with human element, sometimes things are going to fall to the wayside," Thomas said.

Thomas says the system isn't perfect, but says since the erroneous release of accused murderer David Sauceda, staff is keeping closer tabs on all inmates.

"We're doing everything humanly possible to get the job done in the most proficient way," Thomas said.

To do this, guards make sure the inmates are who they say they are, and aren't in areas where they shouldn't be.

"One thing alone is not going to deter the inmate from doing what he needs to do," Thomas said. "It's a multitude of things."

The inmates accused of escape attempts must now spend 22 hours each day alone in their cells and have lost some of their privileges.