A number of people are expressing concerns with the lack of timely communication to the media and to the public after a Carroll County prison inmate walked away from a work detail near the area of East Ranchette Road at Taylors Gin Road, Northeast of Temple on Monday.
According to reports, the inmate walked away from the project at 9:30am. It was after 12:00 noon that the first public notification came and it was not from Carroll County Prison officials, but from the Carroll County Sheriffs Office who had been asked to assist with the search. It was the Carroll County Sheriffs Office who notified WLBB radio as well. It was 2-hours and 45-minutes before Carroll County Schools were notified of the escape. At which time, Assistant Superintendent Terry Jones said all Temple-area schools and Villa Rica Middle School were placed on a soft-lockdown for approximately one hour. Villa Rica Middle is approximately 2.5 miles away from the work site and Temple High School is approximately 4 miles from it. Jones admitted he was, a little surprised at the delay in notification.
Carroll County officials last week could not find a documented plan for protocol for communicating to the public in a situation like this.
At least one Carroll County Commissioner said perhaps this is something that needs to be looked into.
As a district commissioner, I try to always be mindful of the role that we play and respectfully do not meddle in day to day operations. However in this instance of a prisoner escape thats a situation that creates an immediate public safety concern at large. I have not received any internal communication about the escape itself, the inmate or the manhunt other than what has been seen by the public on social media, said Clint Chance, Carroll Countys District Two Commissioner. Since the escape happened under the watch of our state prison, which in part reports administratively to the county, I feel that we have an obligation to be kept abreast to any development.
District Three Commissioner Tommy Lee expressed similar concerns.
WLBB radio reached out to Carroll County Prison Warden Robert Jones multiple times for comment last week, but we were unable to make contact.