Apparently there is a little racket going on down in Georgia where inmates sneak out into the prison exercise yard and collect contraband items tossed over the fences. It seems the contraband is usually non-dangerous items, but lockup luxuries such as cigarettes. I suppose it could just as easily be a weapon, which is more disturbing but this incident only concerns some smokes.

It looks like it was 25-year-old inmate Harry Jackson’s turn to collect the goods was this past Saturday.

Jackson was originally locked up for driving with a suspended license, possession of a controlled substance, obstruction of an officer, possession of drug objects, possession of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school and violating his probation.

So just before 2 AM, Jackson picks an electronic lock on a recreation room door with some wire taken off a broom and makes his way into the yard. Upon inspecting the grounds for the expected loot, Jackson was unable to locate anything. Someone dropped the ball.

Previously told by the other Camden County inmates to not come back without the cigarettes, Jackson climbed the outer fence and made his way to Snappy Foods convenience store about a block away. Aren’t jail perimeters equipped with really high, double fences with barbed wire at the top?

When he got to the store, he broke a window and set off the security alarm. Jackson was able to grab about 14 packs of cigarettes and head back towards the jail.

Meanwhile back at the prison, a routine door check by a detention officer found an unlocked door that was locked a few minutes earlier and he alerted the staff that an inmate was missing. As prison officers were trying to determine who was gone, patrol deputies outside were responding to the alarm at Snappy Foods down the road on U.S. 17.

Firefighters at the station next to the store told officers they saw a man dressed in white, inmate-like clothing leaving the store. Back at the jail, a deputy spotted the shadowy figure of a man trying to sneak back into the facility.

Jail surveillance cameras showed other inmates acting suspiciously during the incident and investigators are interviewing them to determine if others were involved. I don’t know, maybe get some security cameras on the exercise yard and install some door alarms?

The inmate was arrested for breaking out of jail and the burglary of a nearby convenience store. I am guessing breaking back in to jail will probably not be charged.

“We thought we had two separate incidents. By the time we locate this guy, he’s one and the same,” Sheriff Tommy Gregory said.

“When I took office Jan. 1, there were rumors that inmates were using wire off brooms to pop these electronic locks,” Gregory said. “It turned out to be true.”

Gregory had also recently banned smoking at the prison.

Although his office had not detected any previous breakouts, he has been working with the county engineer to get metal plates to make the locking mechanisms more secure, but they have not been installed yet. They have also started to replace the brooms containing wire.

I’m wondering if there were any other break out, break back in incidents that went undetected? Frankly, I’m surprised the guy came back. “Don’t come back without any smokes.” So the guy breaks out of jail, rips off a store and tried to go back in? If it was that easy to get out, I would have thought he’d be gone. Get your own freaking cigarettes.

However, it was very considerate of Jackson to attempt to accommodate his cellblock friends… I hope that the gesture was well received, seeing that he had to disappoint them when the cigarettes were confiscated.

Be Safe, Be Prepared.

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