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07/01/2016

ALERT JAIL STAFF THWARTS PLANNED ESCAPE

Just before midnight on June 29, Washington Parish Jail officers interrupted what has been described as a “trial run” for a jail escape which was planned to occur during the weekend prior to July 4.  Four inmates housed in an overflow area of the jail for security reasons had gained access to an adjacent elevator shaft no longer in use and had devised a way to enter the shaft and descend to the ground outside the jail.  Plans then called for scaling the fence surrounding the jail yard.

A jail officer who was viewing surveillance camera monitors observed unusual activity and alerted other jail staff members on duty.  Jail staff responded to the area and identified four inmates who were involved in the planned escape.  Those inmates are:

Sidney Ray Cotton, 31. At the time of his arrest by the Franklinton Police Department on May 28, 2016, Cotton resided on Corkern Road in Franklinton.  His bond is set at $105,000 for the following charges:

  • Possession of a Stolen Firearm
  • onvicted Felon in Possession of a Firearm
  • Wearing or Possessing Body Armor in a School Zone

Russell Dewayne Blackwell, 31. At the time of his arrest by the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office on April 28, 2016, Blackwell resided on Lane Road in Bogalusa.  His bond is set at $5,500 for the following charges:

  • Burglary of an Inhabited Dwelling
  • Theft
  • Probation Violation

John McGowan, 49. At the time of his arrest by the Bogalusa Police Department on September 8, 2015, McGowan resided on Front Street in Bogalusa.  His bond is set at $39,091 for the following charges:

  • Possession of Stolen Property
  • Resisting an Officer
  • Contempt of Court
  • Failure to Appear
  • Failure to Pay Fine

Joseph Anthony Peoples, 25. At the time of his arrest by the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office on June 20, 2016, Peoples resided on Denham Avenue in Bogalusa.  His bond is set at $26,000 for the following charges:

  • Burglary of an Inhabited Dwelling
  • Illegal Discharge/Use of a Weapon
  • Obstruction of Justice

The investigation into the planned escape continues and it is expected that more charges against the inmates involved will be forthcoming.

Chief of Corrections Jim Miller responded to the jail that night and stated,  “These inmates thought that a busy holiday weekend would be a good time to escape.  It just didn’t work out for them.  Even with our worn-out building and lack of resources, our jail staff does an excellent job in managing the most undisciplined people in Washington Parish.  I can’t say enough good things about our officers.  They are a fine group of men and women.”

Sheriff Randy Seal commented.  “The Washington Parish Jail has outlived its usefulness.  Many doors and locks are inoperable and the jail infrastructure is failing.  It may have been a suitable jail when it was built thirty-five years ago, but it is no longer adequate.  There is not enough space.  Inmate housing areas are too small.  The area housing the four men who planned to escape was not designed to hold inmates for an extended period of time, but we have few options due to a lack of space.  Some way, somehow, Washington Parish must have a new jail so that your Sheriff’s Office can continue to put lawbreakers in jail and house them in a legal manner.  Federal courts have never required that jails be comfortable, but they do require specific conditions that are difficult to meet in the existing building.”

 

Sidney Ray Cotton.jpgRussell Dewayne Blackwell.jpgJohn McGowan.jpgJoseph Anthony Peoples.jpg      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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