Pickens Co. Prison Changes Security After Inmate Escapes - WSPA.com

Pickens Co. Prison Changes Security After Inmate Escapes

Posted: Updated:
James Christopher Townsend James Christopher Townsend
PICKENS COUNTY, S.C. - Pickens County Prison is taking new measures to amp up security after an inmate escaped last week.

Deputies were searching for James Christopher Townsend, who walked away from the facility on Prison Camp Road Thursday.  He was eventually caught on July 17th.

Pickens County Prison Director Keith Vinson said he still doesn’t know just how Townsend escaped.

He was last seen on work duty cutting the grass behind the barbed wire fence at 2:30 Thursday afternoon. No one noticed he was missing until roll call at 7 p.m.

Vinson said not a single one of the prison’s 18 cameras caught his escape on video.

He said it’s not unusual for prisoners to try to escape.

“No, they’re always trying to figure out some way. We try to stay one step ahead of them,” said Vinson.

Vinson said Townsend wasn’t checked up on as much as he should have been and a staffing shortage is to blame.

“In just the past month, we’ve had two resignations. We’re a small department. There are 15 of us – that’s counting me. And we have to get kind of creative sometimes,” he said.

Townsend was serving time at Pickens County Prison for failing to pay child support, but a SLED check shows he’s a convicted felon with an 11-page rap sheet.

He was even convicted of trying to escape with a weapon when he was an inmate in 1996.

“It did send up a red flag as to not putting him out here on actual work detail away from the prison,” said Vinson.

Until now, those prisoners who worked on grounds maintenance were not required to check out and in for work.

Vinson said that’s going to change first thing Tuesday morning.

He also said he’s looking into more fencing around the prison and reviewing applications to fill those open staff positions.
 
The prison plans to install 13 more surveillance cameras over the next couple weeks. That was already in the works before now, but Vinson said Townsend’s escape is accelerating their installation.

Vinson estimated in the past four years he’s been on the job, there have been five escapes, including Townsend. He said all of the previous escapees have been caught.

About half of Pickens County prisoners work, which helps take time off their sentences.

The Pickens County Sheriff's Office arrested Townsend on July 17th.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • August Mugshots

    August Mugshots

    Monday, August 11 2014 4:01 PM EDT2014-08-11 20:01:35 GMT
    August arrests in Upstate South Carolina and western North Carolina.
    August arrests in Upstate South Carolina and western North Carolina.
  • Things You Only Hear in the South

    Things You Only Hear in the South

    Friday, June 20 2014 8:10 PM EDT2014-06-21 00:10:48 GMT
    Here are a mess of words and phrases that make the South unique and awesome.
    Here are a mess of words and phrases that make the South unique and awesome.
  • Shots Fired Into Greenville Law Enforcement Center; Officer Injured, Suspect Dead

    Shots Fired Into Greenville Law Enforcement Center; Officer Injured, Suspect Dead

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 5:56 AM EDT2014-09-02 09:56:24 GMT
    Officials with Greenville Police say that shots have been fired at the Law Enforcement Center leaving one officer injured and the suspect dead.The shots were fired into the front doors and also in the parking lot of the center located on McGee St.Interim Chief Mike Gambrell said they believe a homicide on Augusta Court is connected to the LEC shooting. The incident on Augusta Court is believed to be domestic. 
    Officials with Greenville Police say that shots have been fired at the Law Enforcement Center leaving one officer injured and the suspect dead.The shots were fired into the front doors and also in the parking lot of the center located on McGee St.Interim Chief Mike Gambrell said they believe a homicide on Augusta Court is connected to the LEC shooting. The incident on Augusta Court is believed to be domestic. 
Jenna Troum
Jenna is a general assignment reporter covering Greenville, Pickens and Laurens Counties.
  • Most Viewed Stories on WSPA.com

  • Top StoriesTop StoriesMore>>

  • SWAT Called To Home After Man Locks Himself Inside With A Gun

    SWAT Called To Home After Man Locks Himself Inside With A Gun

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 2:04 AM EDT2014-09-02 06:04:32 GMT
    Greenville County Sheriff's Office SWAT responded to a domestic disturbance call on Stallings Road Monday night. 
    Greenville County Sheriff's Office SWAT responded to a domestic disturbance call on Stallings Road Monday night. 
  • Laboring On Labor Day: Tradition and Economic Opportunity

    Laboring On Labor Day: Tradition and Economic Opportunity

    Monday, September 1 2014 9:15 PM EDT2014-09-02 01:15:21 GMT
    For some, Labor Day is a farewell to white pants and shoes. For others, it means an extra day of vacation. There are also those who take the day quite literally and cash in on the holiday.For some, Labor Day is a farewell to white pants and shoes. For others, it means an extra day of vacation. There are also those who take the day quite literally and cash in on the holiday.
    For some, Labor Day is a farewell to white pants and shoes. For others, it means an extra day of vacation. There are also those who take the day quite literally and cash in on the holiday.
    For some, Labor Day is a farewell to white pants and shoes. For others, it means an extra day of vacation. There are also those who take the day quite literally and cash in on the holiday.
  • Woman Charged With DUI After 2 Children Die In Boating Accident

    Woman Charged With DUI After 2 Children Die In Boating Accident

    Monday, September 1 2014 5:08 PM EDT2014-09-01 21:08:30 GMT
    Dawn Thompson, 53, of EasleyDawn Thompson, 53, of Easley
    Dawn Thompson, 53, of Easley is charged with two counts of felony DUI  after a five-month old baby and a nine-year old child died after a boat capsized on Lake Hartwell Sunday in the Townville area.

    Dawn Thompson, 53, of Easley is charged with two counts of felony DUI  after a five-month old baby and a nine-year old child died after a boat capsized on Lake Hartwell Sunday in the Townville area.
Powered by WorldNow

250 International Dr.
Spartanburg, S.C. 29303

Telephone: 864.576.7777
Fax: 864.587.5430
Email: webmaster@wspa.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.