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April 28, 2018

Transport escapees didn't get far; Harless on the loose about six hours...

W.R. Castle Elementary School on lockdown during hunt for escapee who was caught behind school

Johnson Co. Sheriff's deputy Terry Tussey arrests escapee justin Harless (in orange suit) on the street behind W.R. Castle elementary school. PHOTO/WYMTJohnson Co. Sheriff's deputy Terry Tussey arrests escapee justin Harless (in orange suit) on the street behind W.R. Castle elementary school. PHOTO/WYMT

Justin Harless (in orange suit) of Lawrence co. was taken in by Johnson co. deputy Terry Tussey after Harless and Steve Meeks, also of Lawrence Co, escaped a transport van from Lawrence to BSRDC.Justin Harless (in orange suit) of Lawrence co. was taken in by Johnson co. deputy Terry Tussey after Harless and Steve Meeks, also of Lawrence Co, escaped a transport van from Lawrence to BSRDC.

LOWMANSVILLE, Ky. -- After 2 inmates escaped custody while being transported back to the BSRDC from circuit court held in Louisa, they are both back in custody.

The two escapees, both from Lawrence county, managed to stick an arm out the window of the van they were being transported in during a stop at the new Zip Zone gas & food facility across from W.R. Castle Elementary school.

The inmate (the report did not say which inmate did this) then unlatched a door that had not been locked and got the door open and both Harless and Meeks ran.

Within two hours, Steve Meeks was captured.

The other escapee, Justin Harless was caught about 6:00 pm not far from W.R. Castle Elementary school which was on lockdown due to the incident.

Johnson Co. Sheriff's deputies found Harless hiding in the back yard of a home down the street. The woman who lives at the home said she saw the inmate in his orange jumpsuit walking right outside her window.

Johnson Co. Deputy Terry Tussey made the arrest.

 According to a statement by Lawrence County Jailer and chief transport officer Roger Lee Jordan, the situation as unfortunate as it was, could have happened to any one of the transport officers yesterday -- one of the busiest transport days they've encountered since Jordan took office.

"We had to take 22 inmates to Circuit Court and we had to transport 24 inmates back to the jail. We tried to get them back to the BSRDC in groups so that the wait time did not cause other issues such as fights, etc."

Jordan, who is in his first term as Lawrence Jailer after winning a close race four years ago, said he does not have a transport vehicle to hold that many inmates.

Lawrence Co. Jailer Roger Lee Jordan said the number of transports in one day "overwhelmed" his office which does not have a 24 passenger van to handle that volume of inmates. Most are being brought back and forth from the BSRDC in Paintsville for court dates in Louisa..Lawrence Co. Jailer Roger Lee Jordan said the number of transports in one day "overwhelmed" his office which does not have a 24 passenger van to handle that volume of inmates. Most are being brought back and forth from the BSRDC in Paintsville for court dates in Louisa..

 

Also, Lawrence Co. has only 4 jailer deputies to transport for court and they all drove yesterday, Jordan said. They had to borrow the BSRDC van. That put one deputy per vehicle.

"It could just as well have happened to me or any of the other drivers and it could not have been prevented," Jordan said. "I am just proud of how quick Charlie France acted.  He immediately called 911 to get local police on the escapees' trail. He followed exact protocol."

Jordan said because of that, and the help from Johnson County Sheriff's Dept. and Ky. State Police, both men were caught and now face new charges of Escape, 2nd degree.

Jordan also stated, "I am just thankful to God that nobody was hurt and I apologize to anyone affected by this incident."

 

Comments  

-1 #3 Cry 2018-05-01 17:55
Oh now we have a problem Houston! Need a new jailer who knows how to transport prisoners.

Election time is coming!!!!
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+3 #2 Sorry 2018-04-29 18:21
They'll be sorry when judge Preston gets ahold of them. Home confinement for a month!!!
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+5 #1 J Wms 2018-04-28 18:23
Having been in law enforcement for 34 years, I'm assuming certain things when an inmate can reach thru a window and unlock the door. Maybe it's time your protocol needs to be updated. Any time an inmate is removed from any jail facility (court or medical) they should be handcuffed to belly chains and serious charged inmates (violent crimes) should have leg irons. Inmates are very crafty people, always looking as to how they could get away. Security should be priority #1 for the safety of the transport deputies and also for the general public. Yes, it will cost a few dollars more for the belly chains and leg chains, and the inmates will complain, but it's safety first. I speak from past experience here when you sent two deputies with two inmates to the dentist, and they were able to overpower the deputies. One deputy was shot dead and the other seriously injured. Protocol was changed for the future safety of transport deputies and never had another transport incident such as this. Thank you
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