Thursday, June 11, 2015

Rural community faces worst nightmare, with the escape of two violent inmates from local prison

While rural prisons provide jobs and economic opportunities for communities, residents of Dannemora, N.Y., (City-Data map) are experiencing the nightmare side of hosting such a facility, with unwanted media attention and widespread fear over the escape of two violent prisoners, who have remained on the loose for nearly a week, Katie Reilly reports for Reuters. The facility houses 2,800 inmates, while Dannemora only has 4,898 residents. More than 450 state, federal and local law enforcement officers are involved in the manhunt.

David Benjamin, a Dannemora town councilman who spent 25 years working at Clinton Correctional Facility before retiring in April, told Reilly, "Everybody in town here always had in the back of their mind that an escape could happen, but no one ever thought it would. That place is a fortress."

At the Clinton facility, 91 percent of inmates have been convicted of a violent felony, said a 2014 report by the Correctional Association of New York, an independent nonprofit that inspects prisons and advocates for humane criminal justice, Reilly writes. The report details violence at the prison, by inmates and guards, stating: "Clinton has also had an infamous history of violence, brutality and abuse by correction officers, as well as unrest, violence, organizing and lawsuits by people incarcerated at the facility." 

Inmates "serve a median minimum sentence of 14 years, almost three times as long as the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision's system-wide median minimum of five years and two months, according to the report," Reilly writes.

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