Hoke Sheriff Blames Jail Break on Human Error; Commissioners Blame Sheriff
Posted June 25, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT
RAEFORD — After three prison escapes in one month, many people around Hoke County are blaming their sheriff for lax security.
Sheriff Jim Davis says human error is to blame for Sunday's jail break, and says he will take every precaution and use every resource to make sure an escape does not happen again. Some commissioners have their doubts.
"His past three predecessors never have had this happen before within this county," says county commissioner Lawrence McLaughlin.
Never before have three inmates escaped from prison in Hoke County within three weeks. The latest, accused rapist Raymond Jones, III,is still on the run.
The entire escape was caught on videotape. Davis would not release a copy, but says he is not ruling out that the female jailer with Jones may have let the inmate out of prison just to make the sheriff look bad.
McLaughlin says the sheriff is mismanaging the department and should be recalled by voters.
Commissioner Charles Daniels is relying on the sheriff to make things right with jail security.
"He doesn't have to answer to anybody. He doesn't have to answer to commissioners, to anybody. There will be an election in two years," says Daniels.
The sheriff says things will be fixed, and counters that commissioners have not given him additional money in the budget for more personnel and training.
"Mr. McLaughlin, as one of our commissioners, has fought hard to not provide additional resources to this department," says Davis. "So if there's a recall citizens should look to, it's their county commissioners for this recall."
It is unclear what the commissioners' idea of a recall would do.
Under state statute, an elected sheriff can only be removed by a judge for willful neglect of duty, misconduct in office, corruption, extortion, conviction of a felony or intoxication.