Ionia, Mich. (February 7, 2013) — Nearly a full day before Michael Elliot was captured in Indiana, he escaped from what is supposed to be one of the most secure facilities in the state, the Ionia Correctional Facility.
It’s a maximum security prison that was once called the I-Max.
Now, that security is in question and two prison employees have been suspended.
According to Russ Marlan, the spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Corrections, Elliot was able to escape in full view of security cameras which showed him prying through fences with his hands.
Former corrections officers said if those particular fences were not electrified, it wouldn’t be hard to do.
“Once you get one weave of that open, it kind of opens pretty easily where he wasn`t a very big person anyway so he could easily scoot through that pretty quick,” said Tefft, a former corrections officer from the Ionia Correctional Facility.
Elliot was living in the medium security Level II living quarters unraveling not only the fence near his living quarters.
But, then according to retired officer, he’s making his way about 200 feet to the sally port, where there’s a series of gates for cars to go through.
Russ Marlan of the Michigan Department of Corrections confirmed that the gates weren’t electrified in the locations that Elliot got through.
He said it took the better part of an hour to get through the fences.
Marlan said video of the escape was clearly streamed into a control center where cameras are supposed to be constantly monitored.
Another employee on vehicle perimeter patrol missed the fugitive when he was just 20 feet away.
Elliot reportedly was wearing kitchen whites to blend in with the snow.
The governor called for a full investigation Friday, saying, “While I have full confidence in Michigan Department of Corrections Director Dan Heyns` internal affairs investigation underway, this additional step will supplement and be independent from that to ensure we have the most thorough and comprehensive information possible.”
Attorney General Bill Schutte released a statement saying, “This will be an exhaustive investigation.”
We put the question to the governor if there was a specific concern that he could share with us.
Four days after the prison break, Snyder said, “The first concern is an inmate being out in public, that`s not a good thing and so, the first concern is with the general public, and that`s why I encourage people to call 911 if they had any concerns, fortunately the person has been recaptured, they are in custody, so we have that done, but there is an issue on how the break occurred. So, the right thing there is there has been a lot of speculation so far, speculation isn`t the right way to handle it, it`s about getting the facts, doing a thorough investigation, making that public, seeing why it happened, if there are things that could have been done to prevent it, let`s do those things.”
Union officials have also called for an extra pair of eyes in the guard towers as a last line of defense.
They said those towers sit empty due to budget cuts.
The President of the Michigan Corrections Organization, Tom Tylutki said, “If that tower was manned, that prisoner would not be loose.”
However, the governor was unwilling Thursday to talk about those concerns, dismissing them for the time being, saying he’s waiting until he sees a report.
“Again, that`s speculation,” said Snyder. “Let`s get the facts on what happened in that particular case and see what recommendations are appropriate to solve the problem. What I can tell you is we have been very concerned about corrections all the time.”
The two employees who were suspended will be without pay for 7 days, as per the rules associated with a bargaining agreement with the union.
Marlan says their suspension will continue indefinitely pending the outcome of the investigation.
He said the investigation from the MDOC could wrap up in about a week.