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Officials Blame Cell Phones for Inmate Escapes

09 July 2017

Multiple sources are reporting that a SC prison officials suspect Jimmy Causey, a prisoner at the Lieber Correctional Institution, may have used a drone to fly in tools that enabled him to break out of the institution.

"As long as cell phones are continually utilized by inmates in prison we will have things like this, very well-planned escapes as this was", said SLED Chief Mark Keel.

The search for convicted kidnapper Jimmy Causey began Wednesday afternoon when prison officials realized he was missing.

The unspecified reward was announced Thursday, but authorities warned anyone who encounters the inmate to call 911 and not approach him. That tactic is similar to what Causey did in his first escape in 2005 from a high-security Columbia prison. Prison officials believe the 46-year-old man (PDF), serving a life sentence for kidnapping his attorney, escaped around 8pm on July 4.

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Stirling said they're reviewing to see why it took so long to discover that Causey was gone, and there will be a review to see if proper procedure was following.

Jimmy Causey's elaborate escape also included cellphones smuggled into the prison, guns and $47,000 in cash. They are now being tracking down, in order to be brought to justice.

The prison director would not say where Causey would be held once he's back in SC. Two years later, Brewer was found hanging from a bed sheet in his cell. He said investigators are still determining what materials Causey used and believe he didn't act alone.

Stirling used Causey's escape to highlight his agency's campaign to get the federal government to allow state prisons to block cell phone signals on prison grounds.

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State corrections officials were offering up to $2,000, with additional money coming from South Carolina Crimestoppers, for Causey's apprehension.

Grilled by state lawmakers about how the escape happened, then-prisons director Jon Ozmint blamed budget cutbacks that had forced his department to cut 800 security positions, leaving some areas like the trash compactor and loading dock unmonitored by officers.

An escaped state prisoner gained an 18-hour head start on his trackers by using a trick that worked so well 15 years ago, he did it again this week. They were captured three days later.

Stirling, who for years has spoken out about the dangers posed by inmates' access to illegal cellphones behind bars, has asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to jam cell signals at SC prisons.

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Officials Blame Cell Phones for Inmate Escapes