Wednesday, July 21, 2004

“At Least They Came Back…”

These guys win the Stupid Criminal Award this week:

ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. — The party’s over for four jail inmates accused of walking away from an unlocked cell block, buying more than two cases of beer and returning to share it with other prisoners.

Ridgy Dean Coleman, Jimmy Joe Stapleton, David Wayne Blizzard and David Allen Hopkins were charged Monday with escape and introduction of intoxicants into a penal institution.

The escape happened Thursday night after cell block doors at the Hawkins County Jail were accidentally left unlocked and a faulty control panel failed to alert jailers, Sheriff Warren Rimer said.

Two of the inmates then walked out through a fire exit, left the door propped open with a small Bible and made a hole in the exercise yard fence.

They walked to a nearby market, bought some beer and returned to the jail.

When the booze ran out, the other two inmates made another beer run to a different store.

Authorities believe the inmates bought a total of three 12-packs and an 18-pack of beer.

“I guess they thought if they came back they wouldn’t be charged with escape,” Rimer said, “but they were wrong.”

The store visits didn’t raise alarm because the inmates were wearing street clothes borrowed from other prisoners. The crowded jail doesn’t have enough orange jumpsuits for all inmates.

“It’s an unfortunate incident, and the inmates involved are going to be punished,” Rimer said. “It wasn’t really anybody’s fault.”

The sheriff pointed out that all 36 inmates on the cell block could have tried to escaped while the doors were unlocked.

“At least they came back,” he said.

But they forgot the fried pork rinds.