NC sheriff calls prisoners escaping from van ’embarrassing’

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Security changes are underway to prevent another inmate escape from Lincoln County prisoner transport vans like the one that happened here in Raleigh last Friday.

Prisoners are transported in a protective cage.  As vans are replaced with newer models the cages can be removed and remounted. Lincoln County Sheriff Dave Carpenter said Monday that the transport van was new – but the cage was not.

That’s why two inmates – Damarcus Dashaun Dixon, 19, and Logan Gene Long, 24, – were able to escape from a van in Raleigh Friday morning. They were caught after a brief pursuit by the Raleigh Police.

It turns out the cage had a worn lock.

“Us poorer agencies will interchange stuff like that rather than buy brand new stuff — so we actually used this from an older van and put it in,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said the locking mechanism had worn out.

“We didn’t realize they had worn that much over time,” Carpenter said. “We’re actually taking some security measures today to weld a couple more pieces around this steel bar to correct this issue that has developed.”

Carpenter said he wants to make sure nothing like the escape ever happens again.

“It’s embarrassing, really, to have an issue like this occur,” he said.

Transport van equipment varies from county to county because of financial considerations.  Wake County vans have TV cameras monitoring prisoners, while Lincoln County does not.

So in the escape on Friday, it took a while for the Lincoln County deputy riding shotgun to realize the prisoners had escaped.

“A female detention officer sitting in the front passenger side got out and gave chase  but the two the individuals who were still handcuffed and shackled at the time had a pretty good lead on her,” Carpenter said.

There are no uniform state regulations for prisoner transport, Carpenter said.

“Every agency has their own standards –– but I can assure  you—most sheriff’s offices across the state of North Carolina have the same standards because all have the same training,” Carpenter said.

The Department of Public Safety says it has no oversite over prisoner transport by county sheriffs and any such guidelines would have to be written into the statutes by the General Assembly.

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