Sheriff blames faulty jail design for escape

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 27, 2004

EUTAW-Greene County Sheriff Johnny Isaac said security enhancements and more funding was needed during the construction of Greene County Jail, which is only six months old, after having a prisoner escape for more than 10 hours on Monday, July 19.

“This escape was due to poor construction because during the building stage, I questioned the size of the windows and nothing was done about it,” Isaac said, “I brought it too their attention and they said it wouldn’t happen, but guess what I was right.”

The Greene County jail, which officially opened its doors to the prisoners of Greene County on Dec. 2003, had its first escapee on Monday, July 19. Antonio Maurice Carpenter, 23, of Eutaw was originally in prison for the breaking and entering of a vehicle, he said.

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There are many different things in that jail that are sub-par including the size of the windows, there should also be a concrete barrier under the fence to stop prisoners from digging under, and stair railings that were left un welded. Thanks to these three things the prison suffered its first escapee, he said.

“Carpenter used a piece of metal from an un welded stair rail and was able to break the screws on the window,” Isaac said, “He then climbed out and dug under the fence to freedom.”

During the original construction, the jail was suppose to have five extra cameras for the outside of the jail, but those cameras were taken away because Greene County Commission didn’t have the funds to support it. Isaac is now meeting with the construction company, Hall&Taylor Construction from Tuscaloosa and the architects, P&H and J from Montgomery to discuss the costs and how to correct these problems. The final budget for building the new jail was $3.5 million.

“It will likely cost more money now to fix these problems, then it would have originally to do them right,” Isaac said, “The county made a big mistake, a big expensive mistake.”

Carpenter escaped on Monday, July 19 and was free for about 10 hours and was later recaptured in Northport where he currently remains. He did about $3,000 worth of damage to the window in the jail.

“With this first escape, the guards will now have to monitor the other 27 prisoners extra closely until we can resolve these problems,” Isaac said, “He is now being charged with escape II, criminal mischief I, and theft of property.”