Caught For Sure This Time

    • Joseph “Jose” Banks, one of two convicted bank robbers who escaped from the Metropolitan Correctional Center this week, was caught late Thursday night in the 2300 block of North Bosworth, authorities said early Friday. His cellmate, Kenneth Conley, was still at large early Friday.

      A statement said agents and officers from the Chicago FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force and Chicago Police officers arrested Banks about 11:30 p.m. Thurday. Banks was not armed when he was captured, a law enforcement source told the Chicago Sun-Times.

      Earlier Thursday, a union official said a staffing shortage in the federal jail in downtown Chicago contributed to a series of security snafus that made this week’s daring escape possible. Banks and Conley crawled out a hole in the wall of their 17th-floor cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center and slid down a rope made of bedsheets early Tuesday.

    And details of how it happened are starting to leak out:
    • An official with the Council of Prison Locals 33, which represents the guards in the jail, spoke to the Chicago Sun-Times about the escape on the condition that his name not be used. The union official said two officers were assigned to a control room where the closed-circuit TV monitors for the jail’s security cameras are located.

      But one of them was preoccupied answering phone calls from other officers providing the results of their prisoner counts. Because of a staffing shortage, the other officer was on the 17th floor doing a count — instead of monitoring the cameras, the official said. “The timing was just perfect,” official said. “Does it make sense? Absolutely not. It’s a breach of security.”

      Several years ago, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons cut back on the staffing of correctional facilities across the country, including the MCC, the union official said.

      Because of the cuts, the MCC no longer assigns an officer to a car to patrol the jail’s perimeter — which includes Clark, Federal, Van Buren and Congress, the official said. The mobile officer was supposed to look for signs of escape on the building’s exterior.

      The jail also used to have an officer walking a foot patrol outside the jail 24 hours a day on three shifts. Now only one officer is assigned to a foot patrol from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., the union official said.

      [...] The official said the staffing shortage limits the number of “shakedowns” of prisoners’ cells, too. The searches are important in finding contraband that inmates hide in their cells.
    But we thought all those cameras were supposed to deter crime. Oh wait, wrong camera system. But the fact does remain - no one is watching the cameras. Even in a Federal lockup.


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