Old 28th April 2009, 18:15   #1
webthing
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Federal convicts travel unescorted from prison to prison

By JASON WHITELY / WFAA-TV


DALLAS – Among the hundreds of bus passengers arriving everyday in downtown Dallas, there are some the government doesn't want the public to know about.

"It's an inherent safety and security risk for the industry as a whole," said Kim Plaskett, a spokeswoman with Greyhound Bus Lines.

German Cruz is one of the passengers at issue.

With a record of felony assault in New York ten years ago, a federal judge recently sentenced him to 41 months in prison for repeatedly sneaking into the United States.

Cruz is now serving that sentence in federal prison.

But, he was recently discovered at a bus stop – ticket in hand – transferring himself from one federal prison in Minnesota to another in Texas.

There wasn’t a guard in sight.

"We don't want our bus system to turn into Con Air, but you would think there would be some safety measures that could be put into place here, which doesn't seem to be the case," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, (D) Minn., who is also a member of the U.S. Senate Transportation Committee and was unaware of the practice of unescorted prisoners.

Our affiliate in Minneapolis tracked Cruz from Rochester, Minn. to Dallas on his way to Houston.

The reporter was the only one watching the convict as he made a 1,400 mile journey – alone.

"Certainly this would be something we would like to have known and we didn't know that," said Charlie Zelle, president of the Jefferson Bus Lines.

While a Jefferson bus carried Cruz, the company never knew he was on board.

Dallas-based Greyhound has carried convicts as well without knowing.

Both companies have urged the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to stop the practice, but have said the prison system refuses to end the practice.

The Bureau of Prisons said unescorted transfers are for convicts moving from one minimum security prison to another, heading to halfway houses or prison camps.

"Inmates assigned to either camps or halfway houses do not present a significant risk to the community," said Traci Billingsley, a spokeswoman for the bureau.

Since April 2006, more than 5,300 federal inmates have transferred themselves to a different prison, according to the Bureau of Prisons. More than 54,000 inmates have taken a bus unescorted to halfway houses.

Still, dozens escape.

Take the case of Dwayne Fitzen. He was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison for conspiracy and distribution of cocaine. Fitzen, 60 and a member of a biker gang, took advantage of being unescorted in 2004. He slipped off a bus in Las Vegas and escaped.

U.S. Marshals have yet to apprehend Fitzen and now consider him armed and dangerous.

Between 2003 and 2005, Fitzen was one of more than 77 inmates who escaped during “unescorted transfers,” and one of at least 19 not immediately recaptured.

In a September 2005 letter to Greyhound, the Bureau of Prisons said it allowed for this practice because it was the low-cost option.

"And that's why we are concerned about this,” Plaskett said of Greyhound's concerns. "These are not people who have paid their debt to society."

"Although, I don’t have specific data regarding cost savings, we know the savings is substantial,” Billingsley said. “To transfer these types of inmates using BOP staff, or U.S. Marshals services or contract services would result in a large, unnecessary cost to the government and ultimately the taxpayer, especially given the minimal security requirements of these offenders.”

Federal prison officials defend the practice.

Unescorted inmates haven't caused any type of incidents on buses, the companies said.

They have little recourse in getting the government to end the practice.

The Bureau of Prisons said it mainly uses buses, but sometimes transfers minimum security inmates in taxis and even allows for a convict's own family to move them from prison to prison.

After traveling 30 hours and 55 minutes, Cruz finally arrived in Houston, caught a cab and reported back to federal custody.

http://www.wfaa.com
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Old 28th April 2009, 18:30   #2
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It probably really doesn't matter. These minimum security guys could just walk away from their halfway houses or take off from work release anyway.

54,000 took the bus. 77 took off. Is this a problem?
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Old 29th April 2009, 02:27   #3
ryan
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Agreed.
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Old 29th April 2009, 19:41   #4
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Perhaps we should worry about why these guys are in prison in the first place (stupid drug laws) instead of worrying about the 14 hundredths of 1 percent that abuse the system
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Old 29th April 2009, 21:12   #5
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What would you do with all the cops, guards, judges, lawyers, social workers and prosecutors if we adopted a reasonable law enforcement stance? What would all the politicians do if not come up with some new screwy law everyday.

Something all those Wall Street turkeys are figuring out about now.

Maybe the car wash? Pumping gas? Starbucks?

Maybe they could be cable installers. Sarge might be able to hook them up.

Last edited by rockouthippie; 29th April 2009 at 22:16.
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