By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
An inmate’s recent escape from a local prison has a Taft pastor fearing for the safety of his town and congregation.
Dave O’Malley, 40, escaped from the Jess Dunn Correctional Center on Saturday night and was recaptured Sunday. Jess Dunn officials said public notification protocol was followed, but Samuel Craig, pastor at Flipper Chapel, said he thinks that protocol needs a second look. Craig said several members of his church on a public notification phone call list were never notified of O’Malley’s escape.
“I’m not blaming anyone, I’m just worried about my people,” Craig said. “I know people don’t escape every day or every month or even every year, but we’ve got a bunch of people out here who need taking care of. If they say they didn’t get a phone call, I believe them.”
Cathy Sasnett, the warden’s assistant at Jess Dunn, said a siren blew to alert the area that an escape had occurred. Sasnett also said a phone list of citizens who have requested to be on the prison’s escape notification list were called.
“We understand the community’s concerns,” Sasnett said. “Every attempt was made at calling the people on that list. They were notified and if they did not answer, a message was left on their answering machine. I know a couple of passes were made on going through that list.”
Greg Breslin, the acting warden at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center, said they follow the same procedure as Jess Dunn if there is an escape.
Craig said he would like to see the notification procedure revisited to see if there are any possible improvements that could be made.
“We need to look at this current method of how we contact people and see if it can be improved,” Craig said. “It’s a big concern of mine, because it’s a dangerous situation. The nearest police is eight miles away. If something bad were to happen if someone dangerous got out, the people here could be in serious trouble.”
Craig said Jess Dunn officials told him he would be added to a citizens’ committee, and a meeting with representatives from Taft and the two prisons would be arranged.
Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What to do
Prison officials said area citizens who would like to be placed onto escaped prisoner notification lists for Eddie Warrior and Jess Dunn Correctional Centers can call each of the prisons.
• To be added to Jess Dunn Correctional Center’s list, call (918) 682-7841.
• To be added to Eddie Warrior Correctional Center’s list, call (918) 683-8365.