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County clears staff in escape


County officials said yesterday they have concluded their review of an escape last month from the Anne Arundel County Detention Center and found that the staff was not at fault in the security breach.

But county police and detention center officials have begun to look at the jail's policy for notifying police of emergencies at the Jennifer Road facility, which houses more than 400 inmates awaiting trial or sentencing.

Police, especially in Annapolis, raised concerns about the amount of time it took jail authorities to notify them after a maximum-security inmate scaled the razor-wire fences at the facility April 5. City police dispatch records show that they were called about the escape nearly 20 minutes after it began.

Derrick Dion Jones, 23, of Pumphrey was awaiting trials for the Christmas Eve shooting of a 61-year-old Annapolis woman and a September home invasion when he escaped from the detention center.

The inmate scaled a razor-wire fence in the recreation yard after a fight broke out between two inmates. Two correctional officers - posted less than 50 feet away - were momentarily distracted by the fight. But they saw Jones climb the fence, as did the officer in the guard tower, jail officials said.

"I believe the officers' attention was diverted by the two inmates in the altercation," said Richard Baker, the superintendent of the county's two detention centers. "I don't find fault on the part of any staff here."

In fact, Baker said, detention center officers' response to the escape was very quick.

"Everyone did exactly what they should have," he said.

Jones made it to the top of a housing unit and then climbed down another razor-wire fence to freedom. Officers were not able to catch Jones, who was bleeding from deep cuts left by the wire and had lost one of his shoes in the escape.

Jones remained a fugitive for three days before he was found by Annapolis police in a garbage bin on West Street, less than a mile from the jail. He had been seen begging for change at a fast-food restaurant earlier that day.

County police investigated the escape and have forwarded their findings to the county prosecutor's office to determine whether charges will be filed against the two inmates who were fighting and caused the distraction.

When police finish their review of the jail's notification policy, Baker said officers and detention center officials would meet to fine tune the procedure and recommend ways to make the process more efficient.

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