PPD: Work release inmate uses DOC van to escape

PRICHARD, Ala. (WALA) – A work release inmate is back in custody after escaping in a Department of Corrections van.

Prichard Police Chief Jerry Speziale told FOX10 News his officers made the arrest along with DOC officers.

Officials at the Work Release Center in Prichard trusted the 40-year-old inmate enough to give him a state van to go pick up another inmate around 8 p.m. Friday, February 21.

When the inmate failed to return, the Department of Corrections officers headed to Prichard Police Headquarters for help.

“They came over with a picture of an individual who drives a van for their work release program,” Speziale said.

Chief Speziale said police got a tip on the inmate’s location.

“Information was obtained that the individual may be in the area of the Hart’s Chicken,” Speziale said.

Police found the DOC van not far from the restaurant on Osage Street.

“They located the white van, the Department of Corrections van, and they had the van running, however no body was in it,” Speziale said.

The van was parked in front of an abandoned house, but there was someone at the house next door. The same guy answered when FOX10 News reporter Renee Dials knocked Saturday, February 22. The man is an apparent friend of the inmate.

“I was sitting in here and I opened the door, and when I opened the door they was coming right there like, ‘Where she is?’ and they said, ‘Who driving this van?’ and I said, ‘Here, he is right here,'” the man said.

Police took the inmate, and the man said they almost arrested him.

“They put me on the ground, and I was like, ‘I stay here.’ My old lady was in there sleep, so I called her name and they let me up and they said they was sorry,” he said.

“The individual did tell us that the individual that was operating that vehicle was inside. They secured the inmate, DOC was on scene, because they were in the area as well searching for the individual. Without incident our officers took the individual into custody. DOC then took him back to his facility,” Chief Speziale said.

Chief Speziale said the inmate was serving time for robbery. He had been at the work release center for four years.

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