MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

February 6, 2013

Review prison escape protocol

— Prison officials need to review the public notification protocol used when an inmate escapes to ensure the public’s safety is at the forefront of a manhunt.

When Dave O’Malley escaped from Jess Dunn Correctional Center in Taft last week, prison protocol included blowing a siren and calling citizens who have asked to be on a call list.

O’Malley was found one day later.

In the aftermath of his escape, a Taft pastor says the protocol needs a second look.

We agree.

Samuel Craig of Flipper Chapel says several members of his church say they did not receive a call although they are on the phone call list.

“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.”

Warden’s assistant Cathy Sasnett said the prison made calls to everyone on the escape notification list.

“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.”

Prison officials at Jess Dunn and the state level should take another pass at the protocols to ensure everything is being done to notify area residents.

If the calls are made individually, the prison should consider automating the system.

The prison should look into social media such as Twitter and email alerts.

Both the pastor and the prison have safety in mind.

It’s time to review for everyone’s sake.

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