Inmate rendezvous has officers changing practices | News
PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office is changing some if its security practices, after a security breach at the jail.
Sheriff Kevin Joyce says it was a combination of regular, but ineffective security practices and a lack of attention from officers that allowed an inmate to get out of his cell to visit the cell of another inmate and have sex with her. Now the sheriff says he is committed to changing some of these security practices to make sure it doesn't happen again.
It sounds like something straight out of the movies: two jail inmates arranging a rendezvous by communicating through the air vents. Authorities say it happened early Sunday morning at the Cumberland County Jail.
23 year-old Arien L'Italien arranged his bed so that officers would think he was sleeping. He rigged his cell door so that it wouldn't properly lock, and was able to sneak out of his cell and into the women's cellblock. 25 year-old Karla Wilson had also rigged her cell door. Sheriff Kevin Joyce says the two inmates had sex in Wilson's cell. A corrections officer caught L'Italien crawling on the floor between one call and another after leaving Wilson's cell.
As it turns out, it's not that difficult to rig those locks.
"We did a check today and the Chief Deputy was maneuvering with some paper towels and a credit card and was able to get it to the point where he could open the door" Joyce said in a news conference Monday.
There were two other doors L'Italien had to go through to get to the women's cellblock, but those doors are kept unlocked during the overnight shift, after the inmates are secured in their cells.
"If that's done correctly, the overnight people found it easier to get in and do their head counts without waking them up," Joyce said. "But effective today, that policy's out."
Joyce says it's now clear that corrections officers can't afford to take any short cuts.
"It seemed to be easier on the corrections officers, but no more being easier on them. The doors are there for a purpose."
For corrections officers, it's going to mean trying to stay one step ahead of the inmates.
"Part of it's going to be spending a little more time checking each door when it gets locked down at the end of the day, because somebody could have seriously gotten hurt with this guy out."
This wasn't the first time L'Italien had gotten out of his cell. Two days before this incident he attempted the same thing with Wilson, but her cell door was actually locked. Both inmates are now being isolated from the rest of the jail population. The sheriff's department is conducting an internal investigation to determine if disciplinary action needs to be taken against any of the officers.