At 2 a.m. one night, Florida warden Jerry Cummings decided to make a surprise visit to Dade Correctional Institution. Inside, he told the Miami Herald, he found doors wide open, an unstaffed officers' station, guards asleep and a roster count of inmates that didn't add up. About the only thing that surprised Cummings after 30 years in the prison system was that inmates weren't escaping more frequently. Just about every area of the prison was broken or corrupted, he said, all the way down to a maintenance worker he alleges was so involved in smuggling drugs and cigarettes to sell to inmates that he never had time to do his job.
A violent inmate serving two life terms for armed robbery with a deadly weapon, escaped last Friday. Although “perimeter escapes” (as opposed to prisoners walking away from road crews) are rare — Friday's was the fourth in eight years — it's not the first time prisoners fled unnoticed. In 2005, three inmates, including two murderers, managed to drape carpeting over the razor wire-topped fence and climb out of the compound. The fence had motion detectors to alert guards, but they had been malfunctioning, a fact management knew but didn't address. In interviews with the Herald before Friday's escape, Cummings, 61, said he inherited a facility in chaos, and that efforts to fix it were thwarted by corrupt corrections officers and a central office that ignored every sign of trouble. including failed inspections, chronic abuse of inmates and suspicious deaths. He resigned in June to become a police officer. (Friday’s escapee, Ronald “Psycho” McCoy, was arrested yesterday at a gas station.)