Texas Prison Escapes Down Since “Texas Seven”
by Matt Clarke
Officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) say the number of escapes from state prisons dropped sharply after seven prisoners staged a brazen break-out in 2001. Since 2012 there have been only three escapes from secure facilities, all in 2014; there were no escapes in 2012, 2013 or in 2015 as of November, the TDCJ reported.
Between 2002 and 2012, there was an average of just under three escapes per year from TDCJ facilities. The Lyncher State Jail reported the most with three, while the Hutchins State Jail and the Stringfellow, Ellis and Allred Units each reported two escapes during that period. Only one escapee remains at large, officials said.
All three of the prisoners who escaped in 2014 were recaptured. The first break-out occurred in the afternoon of April 26, 2014, when Kendrick Rishard Davis scaled two 12-foot fences topped with razor wire at the Kyle Unit and fled into a nearby wooded area. Authorities said guards at the facility, which is operated by the private company Management & Training Corporation, watched as Davis, wearing only his underwear, made his escape. The 34-year-old Davis, serving two 25-year sentences for aggravated robbery, was caught about six hours later in the woods, completely naked.
On September 22, 2014, convicted killer Marvin Garcia, 34, was recaptured about eight hours after he broke out of the Nathaniel J. “Nat” Neal Unit north of Amarillo. TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark said Garcia scaled a wall at the facility at 3:45 a.m., possibly while reporting to his job in the prison cafeteria, drawing fire from a guard who spotted him. The guard fired six shots. Garcia, a native of El Salvador, was serving a 25-year sentence for murder; he was caught about 25 miles from the prison.
Then on the day before Halloween 2014, a former Texas prison guard was recaptured three days after he escaped from the Wheeler State Jail in Plainview. Clark said Charlie Davis was arrested after police found him beating on the back door of a local residence. Davis, 36, was serving a two-year sentence for theft when he was discovered missing; he had worked as a guard at the TDCJ’s Clements Unit from April 2003 until February 2004, when he was fired for disciplinary violations.
The 2001 escape by the “Texas Seven” was one of the most daring in modern times. Before they were caught, the group had gone on a robbery spree and killed an Irving, Texas police officer. One member of the group, Larry James Harper, 37, committed suicide as police closed in rather than return to prison.
Three of the seven infamous escapees have since been executed: Donald Keith Newbury, 52, on February 4, 2015; George Angel Rivas, Jr., 41, on February 29, 2012; and Michael Anthony Rodriguez, 45, on August 14, 2008. The remaining three, who were sentenced to death and await execution, include Joseph Christopher Garcia, 43, Randy Ethan Halprin, 38, and Patrick Henry Murphy, Jr., 53.
The only TDCJ escapee currently at large, José Bostos-Diaz, absconded from the Briscoe Unit after he and another prisoner squeezed through a large ventilation system in the prison’s furniture factory and cut their way through the perimeter fence in April 2010. Police arrested the other escapee when they found him inside a McAllen apartment with 150 pounds of cocaine; it is believed that Bostos-Diaz fled to Mexico.
Sources: www.dallasnews.com, www.isciencetimes.com, www.amarillo.com, www.lubbockonline.com, www.connectamarillo.com, http://texasprisons.blogspot.com, www.statesman.com
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