Former Lieber warden comments on Jimmy Causey's escape, changes in the prison system

Stan BUrtt.jpg
Stan Burtt (WCIV)

The investigation continues at Lieber Correctional Institution after Jimmy Causey went undetected for hours after escaping the maximum security prison Tuesday night.

Former Lieber Warden Stan Burtt says a standing head count prevents mistakes and that a day in prison is only as good as the count.

“Shortcuts cause bad counts,” Burtt says.

Inside of a prison, every set of eyes counts.

“Part of working in prisons is everybody is watching everybody,” says Burtt.

But no one was apparently watching when Causey somehow got his hands on a pair of wire cutters, and used them to gash the prison's fence and temporarily gain his freedom.

S.C. Dept. of Corrections officials say they believe the wire cutters may have been dropped over the prison fence with a drone, and Causey used an illegally obtained cell phone to coordinate his escape plan.

Burtt says something like wire cutters easily could've made it in another way, though, thanks to staffing changes.

“For a while, the department of corrections eliminated the fixed post and just had the rover, and that's an open invitation for people to pull up to the fence and throw things over,” said Burtt.

Prison officials also say Causey used a dummy in his bed to disguise his absence, a trick straight out of Escape From Alcatraz he used when he escaped another maximum security state prison once before in 2005.

“If you're down there and you tell an inmate to stand for count and he refuses and nothing happens, then what do you do the next time when you do that count?” Burtt asked.

Burtt reflected on being in tough situations in the prison.

“I can remember going into certain physical situations and never looking back because I was certain the officers in that place would be following me," he said.

"I don't think they have that now. I's just not enough of them,” Burtt said, referring to staffing issues in the prison system.

Burtt says that allows fear to control the prison.

“If you're afraid--that makes the inmates afraid just puts everything in a bad situation.” Burtt said.