Go To Jail, Please By Lee

You’re going to be shocked shocked to read this, but when you buy a prisoner a bus ticket and tell him to transfer himself to another prison, sometimes he’ll decide to run.

When federal prison officials decided to transfer drug dealer Dwayne Fitzen from one prison to another, they bought him a one-way bus ticket from Minnesota to California.

They trusted that the convict known as “Shadow” would check himself into Lompoc Federal Correctional Institution at the end of the two-day trip last fall.

What happened next may come as no surprise. Fitzen got off the bus in Las Vegas and vanished. The U.S. Marshals Service considers him “armed and dangerous” and has added him to its growing list of convicts who escaped while traveling alone by bus.

Already in San Diego County this year, the Marshals Service has launched manhunts for two prisoners who failed to turn themselves in after being put aboard buses bound for halfway houses here. Since 1996, when the bus transfer program began, eight San Diego-bound prisoners have escaped.

“It is starting to be more common, and we’re not surprised,” said Jimmell Griffin, a deputy U.S. Marshal in Los Angeles. “The opportunity to escape is just too great for them.”

The little-known furlough program, also known as “voluntary surrenders,” was started by the Federal Bureau of Prisons to save money and relieve prison crowding. The program is usually reserved for prisoners being transferred to low security facilities, which typically house nonviolent inmates.

Bureau officials would not discuss the program or provide information about the number of prisoners who travel alone by bus or the number who have escaped. The bureau’s Web site states that prisoners usually can’t take a bus unless they have less than two years remaining on their sentences. But an assistant warden said the limit is 10 years.

I cannot even begin to understand how anyone involved in law enforcement could have thought that this was a good idea. Someone should lose their job over this. There are always areas where government can and should save money. Prisoner transfers are not one of them.

This content was used with the permission of Lee from Right Thinking from the Left Coast.

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