Crime

Atlanta Inmates Escape Prison, Return With Contraband

| by Kathryn Schroeder

Federal inmates at a minimum security prison in Atlanta, Georgia, escaped, only to sneak back in with contraband.

Instances of inmates leaving the prison to collect contraband, such as cellphones, tobacco, alcohol, potential weapons and food to sell to other inmates, has been occurring since 2013, according to a federal complaint filed Feb. 4 obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In January 2017, the Atlanta Police Department noticed a hole in the fence at the prison that was large enough for an adult to get through, and a camera was put in place to record what occurred there. The footage was then turned over to the FBI, which has jurisdiction over the federal prison.

"[The FBI saw] inmates escape from the prison grounds" to collect large bags that they brought back in to the facility, FBI Special Agent James Hosty wrote in the criminal complaint. Inmates would also allegedly get into waiting cars on a nearby street.

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The first instance of an inmate escaping is noted in the complaint as occurring on Jan. 29, 2013, when a police officer saw a car parked near the fence with three people inside wearing ski masks and gray jump suits. 

“When APD stopped to investigate, three of the occupants climbed the fence and fled into USP Atlanta,” Hosty wrote.

The officer found in the car a "large quantity of bottled alcohol, 24 cell phones and two loaded handguns," he wrote, adding that several green Army bags were found near the prison's fence line.

The complaint states that on Feb. 3, inmate Justin Stinson escaped. He allegedly went through a hole in one prison fence and then climbed a second fence on the outer perimeter. Stinson then retrieved a large black duffel bag from someone in a car that contained a cellphone, scissors, two 1.75 liters of Jose Cuervo tequila, two cartons of Newport cigarettes, four boxes of Black and Mild cigars and food.

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Stinson is serving time for possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and was set to be released Dec.7, 2018. That will possibly change, as new charges of escape have been brought against him.

Smuggling cellphones into prison has in the past been a major problem in Georgia. In 2015, two federal indictments stated that inmates, with the assistance of prison employees, obtained cellphones and used them to post on social media, create a fictitious company online, and in one instance, pretend to be a credit card fraud investigator to get people to turn over their personal financial information, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Having a cellphone also enabled inmates to run crime rings, broker drug deals and instruct others to murder a witness in their case.

Inmate Donald Hinley, who is serving life without parole for murder, "ordered his associate to ‘shoot every one’ of the witness’ family members and said, ’ … pop them all off, kids, grandmamas, daddies, I don’t give a (expletive), right?’” an indictment against him said.

Sources: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (2) / Photo credit: Bart Everson/Flickr

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