Guatemala: large-scale prison escape : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


Those in charge of Guatemala's maximum security prison have been arrested on the heels of the escape of 78 inmates over the weekend. Authorities said it was the biggest prison break in the nation's history. The directors of the prison were accused of complicity. The escapees include kidnappers, murderers, rapists and drug traffickers. They used assault weapons, automatic pistols and grenades to get away. Interior Minister Byron Barrientos told reporters the prisoners had to get through 24 different locks, and sophisticated security systems to break out. Nine of the fugitives were recaptured moments after the escape while two others died trying to cross a nearby river.

Broadcast reports said about 30 of the escapees held up a bus with more than a dozen passengers aboard, then used the bus as a getaway vehicle. One of the recaptured prisoners said the inmates escaped because "the doors were opened." More than a thousand army soldiers are working with police in a massive manhunt in nearby mountains and forests.

-- Rachel Gibson (, June 18, 2001


"the doors were opened"...not the first and more that likely, not the last. This is a crosspost from SPider's y2k discussion site that I posted earlier this month.

FL - Jail glitches may rob taxpayers Robert Sargent Jr. and Kevin P. Connolly Sentinel Staff Writers Posted June 7, 2001

TAVARES -- The Lake County Jail is haunted.

Doors open on their own, fire sensors trigger false alarms, and control panels malfunction. But the incidents are hardly paranormal -- just phantoms of the jail's electronic security system that have raised "great concern" about the 9-year-old facility, officials said Wednesday.

It may get worse. Parts that the county has been using to repair the system likely will be unavailable within three years, sheriff's officials say. The Lake County Sheriff's Office may be forced to replace the entire system at considerable time and expense.

"There's never been a time we didn't have a guy troubleshooting the system since we opened," said Mike Anderson, senior director of facilities and capital improvements. "Many times the problems are minor, and sometimes not."

Officials do not know how much it will cost to replace the electronic network that controls hundreds of doors at the jail. They just know work should be done quickly.

"For this reason, it is my recommendation that we begin looking into this matter and finding a solution within the near future, as this will prove to be quite a lengthy project.," Sheriff George Knupp wrote to County Commission Chairwoman Catherine Hanson.

Sheriff's Maj. Gary Borders said the unsettling problems can occur throughout the jail, which is filled nearly to capacity with more than 920 inmates. No inmates have escaped their cell areas, and he did not know about any serious security breaches.

"For a while, I thought my officers were messing with me," Borders said about doors that would begin to close suddenly as he walked through them. "They insisted they had nothing to do with it."

The county frequently has requested help from the company that installed the system. Repair times can last hours or weeks, Anderson said. A recent problem forced the jail to wait four weeks before the correct electronic parts were available, according to reports.

Anderson said problems involve the computer system that controls the jail's doors and emergency sensors. Sometimes a computer circuit board -- essentially the heart of the jail's automated network -- must be replaced.

On a recent visit, the repair technician shared grim news: The company that builds the much-needed parts is going out of business. Borders said officials immediately began looking for a solution, hoping more problems don't pop up.

"I understand that it would be expensive to change out the entire electronic door system, but due to the information we have been provided, I see no alternative," Borders reported to Knupp in an April 13 memo.

Borders said the jail's doors will not need to be replaced, but the electronic hardware in more than a dozen large control panels, as well as countless other parts, might have to go.

Aside from the county's own inmates, the jail also provides space for Orange County. Borders said the extra inmates could be sent back to Orange County for two or three months while work is completed.

During the transfer, corrections officers could operate many of the doors manually. Borders said that would require them to use hundreds of keys -- not a favored option.

Hanson described the situation as "frustrating. It's something that needs to be dealt with, and it needs to be dealt with quickly."

About the only consolation is that many other corrections facilities across the country may have the same problem, Anderson said. coll=orl%2Dnews%2Dheadlines%2Dlocal

-- Doris (, June 18, 2001.

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