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Review Underway After ‘Embarrassing’ Escape of Florida Inmates

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Franklin County inmates Joseph Jenkins (left) and Charles Walker (right) were mistakenly released from prison on Oct. 8 and Sept.27, respectively.
Franklin County inmates Joseph Jenkins (left) and Charles Walker (right) were mistakenly released from prison on Oct. 8 and Sept.27, respectively.

After two convicted murders walked out the front of Franklin Correctional Institute using fake documents, one Florida state senator said measures will be taken to prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future.

“If certain laws or policies need to be enacted in order to ensure that this never happens again, we will move forward in doing those things,” said Sen. Rob Bradley (R-District 7), chair of the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.

To escape the correctional facility, Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins used fraudulent paperwork filed through the Orange County Clerk of Courts that included the photocopied signature of a judge to approve a motion to correct an illegal sentence.

Jenkins, 34, was released on Sept. 27 and Walker, 34, on Oct. 8.  Both were serving life sentences for murder.

The pair was apprehended in Panama City Beach on Saturday and were back in jail jumpsuits by Sunday.

The senate will hold a meeting in November to review how the release could have occurred and what can be done to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“What we need to do is find out what exactly happened and make sure all agencies that were involved have the tools to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” Bradley said.

In the meantime, the Department of Corrections sent letters to all judges informing them of stricter approval measures.

“We now have added an extra layer of verification as it related to the modification of orders we receive for the release of inmates,” said Michael Crews, secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections.

Bradley said the prisoners’ escape is an egg on the face of certain law enforcement departments.

“It’s an embarrassing situation for the Department of Corrections,” Bradley said. “I think it’s an embarrassing situation for the clerks’ offices around the state.  I think it’s an embarrassing situation for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.”

About Joonhee Suh

Joonhee is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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