The hunt is still on for three inmates who broke out of the Men’s Central Jail in Santa Ana as jail officials continue to put the pieces of the escape together. One of the larger questions emerging is centered around why jail officials didn’t discover the prisoners were gone until 16 hours after they had escaped, giving them a huge lead on fugitive hunters.
The three men were housed together in a dormitory-style cell, serving time for various violent crimes including murder and kidnapping. They were discovered missing during a prisoner headcount on Friday evening. A spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department says to escape, the inmates had to cut through several layers of metal and rebar and traverse plumbing tunnels in order to get to the prison roof, where they made ropes out of clothing and bedsheets to use to rappel down the side.
So far, no jail employees have been connected to the escape, but many are wondering how three men were able to break out of the facility without anyone catching wind of their plan and why they were all housed in the same unit in the first place. Jails in Los Angeles County house inmates who are convicted of violent crimes like murder or attempted murder in single cells.
What were the red flags that prison officials missed? How hard is it for jail officials to catch wind of a prison escape plan? Could this escape have been prevented?
Craig Caine, Inspector (Ret.) U.S. Marshals Service New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force with 30+ years law enforcement experience