As the search continued for two work-release inmates who escaped in state vans, Arkansas prison officials said they have no plans to stop allowing inmates behind the wheel – a practice banned in some neighboring states. Barring inmates from using work-release transportation would be too expensive, a prisons spokesman told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Two inmates from the Benton unit escaped by driving off in vans instead of picking up other prisoners at the Affiliated Foods warehouse near the intersection of Interstates 430 and 30. The vans have been found, but the prisoners are missing.
Corrections officials in Texas, Louisiana, Missouri and Tennessee say their inmates are never allowed to drive other inmates unsupervised as they are in Arkansas. “We stopped that about 20 years ago,” said Dorinda Carter, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Correction. “We found that there were problems with what they did along the way [to and from their work assignments ]. There were problems with contraband – marijuana and alcohol.”