MIDDLETOWN — Sweeping changes have been made to the city’s work-release policy after two jail trusties escaped last month from a routine work detail.
Sgt. Rick Bowling, who oversees the city jail, said trusties are no longer eligible to participate in the work release program.
“If the court doesn’t assign any work-release people, our supervisor is going to go out by himself and do the work,” Bowling said. “We’ve also given him some different training to hopefully prevent something like this from happening again.”
The work-release and jail trusty programs are separate, Bowling said. A trusty is a jail inmate who is able to work inside the jail, cooking, mopping and picking up trash within the confines of the city building. Work-release participants — jailed on nonviolent misdemeanor charges — are selected by the municipal court to be taken outside the city building to pick up trash under staff supervision, according to Bowling.
“Because nobody was eligible for work-release, we sent out a couple of trusties,” Bowling said. “It was kind of a common thing for us, just picking guys with minor charges and sending them out to work for a day.”
Mark Dunlap, 29, and Scott Wilson, 19, escaped about 1:20 p.m. April 14, while picking up trash at Goldman Park. Both ran to their homes and shed their orange-and-white-striped jumpsuits. Police immediately caught Wilson; Dunlap was nabbed more than 24 hours later in Dillsboro, Ind. He is being held in the Butler County Jail and faces felony escape charges.
Maj. Mark Hoffman confirmed the police department is no longer allowing trusties to stand in for work-release participants.
The work-release program has involved more than 300 prisoners during its 10-year existence. Rather than have inmates willing to work be confined to a cell, the concept is to encourage them to give back to the community at no cost to taxpayers.
“It helps everybody,” Bowling said. “We’re getting free labor; they’re getting some time taken off their sentence. It’s a good program, but unfortunately sometimes stuff happens.”
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