The Georgia Department of Corrections said Friday several security breaches during a prison transport last month led to the killings of two corrections officers.
At a press conference in Atlanta, officials released their findings about how inmates Donnie Rowe and Ricky DuBose made their escape after allegedly killing Sgt. Christopher Monica and Officer Curtis Billue.
Rowe and DuBose escaped from a transportation bus that was headed from Baldwin State Prison to the Georgia Diagnostic Prison in Jackson.
DOC Commissioner Greg Dozier said during that transport, several mistakes were made.
First, the inmates on the bus were not adequately searched, he said adding that Rowe and DuBose were able to bring a pin or toothbrush on board.
The inmates were also not double-locked in their handcuffs, "... a security practice that should be done," Dozier said.
Within minutes after boarding that bus, they (Rowe and Dubose) were able to get out of their cuffs, not just them but several others," Dozier said.
According to the DOC report, the inmates were also not continuously supervised during stops at Baldwin State Prison and Hancock State Prison.
A padlock on the bus's security gate was not secure, Dozier said, adding, "This led to on two occasions the breach into the officers' compartment on the bus," he said.
While on the grounds at Hancock State Prison while they (inmates) were left unattended and "were able to use the alleged toothbrush to remove the supposedly unlocked padlock and enter the chamber where the officers reside."
While in the officers' area, inmates were able to go through the officers' personal belongings even eating some of their food and drinking their drinks, Dozier said.
Dozier outlined five breaches in procedure that resulted in the murder and escape.
Each prison requires specific search procedures before inmates are removed from the building and placed on transport busses. Dubose and Rowe originated from Baldwin State Prison were they , along with 11 other inmates, were searched via a pat down. Somehow, Dubose was able to conceal the tool he used to escape. "They were able to take a pen or a toothbrush on the bus that day," Dozier said.
Dubose removed his handcuffs two minutes after boarding the transport bus, according to the review. He then also removed handcuffs from "many other offenders," including Rowe, while the bus was in route between prisons.
Procedure requires the handcuffs to be double locked but the review notes "the ease with which IM Duboseremoved his own cuffs, and those of many other offenders around him, suggests that this did not occur."
The inmates were left unattended at least two times while stopped at Baldwin and Handcock State Prisons. Leaving inmates unattended is against standard operating procedure. The report states that Dubose and Rowe were able to break into the compartment that separates the inmates from officers using either a toothpick or pen.
SECURING THE OFFICER COMPARTMENT
The report reads, "the lock hanging on the door separating their compartment from the officer's compartment on the bus had not been secured." An investigation by the GBI revealed that the lock was operational and the key was on the key ring with the bus.
The inmates were able to open it within a minute. While in the compartment, the inmates reportedly "rummaged through the officers' lunches," before returning to their seats.
Dozier said this was the first time the compartment was breached. The second is when they entered the compartment to confront the officers.
"At the time of the escape, the inmates were able to take the weapon that was stored on a shelf behind the officer and use that weapon for the murder and the escape," Dozier said.
Not securing the gate was identified as the "single greatest point of failure."
WEAPONS | BALLISTIC/STAB VESTS
Procedure requires officers to carry their weapons on their person and wear ballistic vests during transport. According to the incident review, neither Sgt. Monica nor Sgt. Billue wore either item. Instead, their handguns were stored in storage boxes during the trip.
Sgt. Billue's ballistic vest was found inside his personal vehicle. Sgt. Monica was never assigned a ballistic vest but his stab vest was not at work with him, according to the review.
After the deadly escape, the department of corrections implemented changes to their prison transport procedures that range from new pre-boarding checklists to additional supervisors being involved in the process. They also implemented a permanent trail vehicle that will follow prison transport busses.
Some other changes include:
- Annual training for prison transport staff
- Installing key retaining padlocks
- Video cameras pointed at officers
- Annual audit of the transportation operations
Dozier said improving their operations is a top priority. "They are determined, I am determined, not to allow an event like this to take place again," he said.
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