Local News

Latest Escape Attempt Raises Questions About Security At Vance County Jail

Posted March 25, 2002

— An inmate who escaped from the Vance County jail before escaped again on Tuesday. While the inmate was quickly recaptured, officials said it once again raises questions about the security provided by the staff at the Vance County jail.

Two Vance County correctional officers were transporting Nathaniel Lewis to Central Prison when he broke a window and jumped out of the moving car. It was Lewis' second escape in two years.

Vance County Sheriff R. Thomas Breedlove said Lewis used an inch-long piece of metal to free himself from his handcuffs, leg irons and a chain tied around his waist. Lewis hid the key by swallowing it and later regurgitating it during his ride to Raleigh.

"If the things that I heard are true, then that is a pretty ingenious way to smuggle a key," criminal justice professor Jay Chapman said.

Hazel Durham, who lives near the Vance County jail, said correctional officers should have known when Lewis threw up.

"It seems like someone should have seen something," she said.

"Maybe they were not as alert as they should have been, but those things happen," Breedlove said.

Breedlove said the latest escape attempt will result in a change in policy. From now on, all inmates being transferred will have their hands behind their backs.

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