During what Sheriff Jimmy Shinn described as a “full inspection of the jail” investigators discovered “several issues” that corroborated what marshals had been told.
Efforts by three Marion County Jail inmates to escape the Palmyra facility were uncovered last week, thanks to a tip provided to U.S. Marshals by another prisoner.
According to Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Shinn, he was notified mid-afternoon on June 6 that four U.S. Marshals were on their way to Marion County with information pertaining to an attempted escape that had been going on at the jail.
“I would not call it an attempted escape at that time period,” said Shinn during Monday’s meeting of the Marion County Commission at the courthouse in Palmyra. “However, were they working on or had a plan that was taking place in the jail? The answer to that is ‘yes,’ based on what we found.”
During what Shinn described as a “full inspection of the jail” investigators discovered “several issues” that corroborated what marshals had been told.
“In one instance, two concrete blocks were completely removed from the building, not on an exterior wall but an interior wall,” said the sheriff. “The reason I don’t want to call it an escape (attempt) is because once they got into the interior walls that’s where the water pipes are and everything else. There was nowhere for them to go. There is wire mash across the ceiling and there is nothing down below, so there’s really nowhere for them to have gone. However, they were working on it.”
Shinn will reportedly meet with a local contractor on Tuesday, June 12, to begin the process of repairing the damage that was done at the jail.
“We will do a thorough walk-through (Tuesday) and get everything I can fixed,” he said.
Thanks to the information provided by the marshals, Shinn knows the identities of the three would-be escapees. While he did not provide their names to the commission, Shinn reported that two of them were local while the other was a federal inmate.
None of the trio was willing to share additional details with investigators.
“They all ‘lawyered up’ last week when we tried to talk to them,” said Shinn.
As for the inmate who provided information to marshals regarding the ongoing escape efforts, Shinn speculated the individual talked to gain assistance on charges that are pending elsewhere. For the protection of the inmate who provided the tip, he has been taken to another place for incarceration.
Shinn is delighted with how the situation played out.
“They (U.S. Marshals) got the information, we acted on it and we stopped it (escape) before it happened,” he said.
The attempted escape does not change how federal officials view the Marion County Jail, according to Shinn.
“I sat down with the feds, because they are in a lot of different jails, and asked what we could do differently. They said the jail is very good,” said the sheriff. “There is no problem with our contract or with the feds bringing inmates up here.There is nothing of that nature. They assured me of that.”
According to Shinn, he was offered 10 more federal inmates last Wednesday, but had to decline because the current jail population is close to 100 inmates.
Reach reporter Danny Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org