5 employees on leave following prison escape

Five prison employees are on administrative leave with pay following the escape of a prisoner in Enfield.The D...

Posted: Jan 23, 2018 11:52 PM
Updated: Jan 23, 2018 11:53 PM

Five prison employees are on administrative leave with pay following the escape of a prisoner in Enfield.

The Department of Correction identified the employees as Paul Belanger, a general maintenance officer, and correction officers Jaime Graham, Dwight Lawrence, Daniel Martinez and Angel Rivera.

The employees are on leave pending the outcome of an investigation, according to Larry Dorman, communications coordinator for the council 4 AFSCME union.

"I will decline comment due to the ongoing investigation," Dorman told Channel 3.

The investigation stems from the escape of 25-year-old Jerry Mercado from Carl Robinson Correctional Institute in Enfield on Jan. 7.

All five employees are assigned to the facility.

Authorities believe Mercado may have stowed away in the undercarriage of a garbage truck or state vehicle.

"We are examining security protocols at each of our 15 correctional facilities across the state," said Department of Corrections Commissioner Scott Semple.

The Connecticut State Prison Employees Union said staffing levels were partially to blame in the wake of the escape.

"Every facility staffing has been at lower levels then they were in 2011 and we've been cautioning against the possibility that we believe that they are gambling with this idea that lower staffing is going to remain safe on compounds and on the other facilities around the state," said president of the CT State Prison Employees Union Local 391 Colin Provost.

However, the Department of Corrections said, "preliminary reports do not indicate that staffing levels were a contributing factor to the breach."

He was on the run for a week and a half before being tracked to and ultimately captured in Georgia.

Canton, GA police released the details of his capture last week.

U.S. Marshals said they expect the state police to eventually bring Mercado back up to Northern, a maximum security prison.

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