ORLANDO, Fla. - At least seven inmates in Florida have used forged documents in attempts to escape from prison, including two killers who were mistakenly freed because of the paperwork, authorities said Tuesday.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement held a news conference Tuesday to provide details about the phony paperwork. Agency spokeswoman Gretel Plessinger said so far they have discovered seven prisoners tried to escape with forged documents.
Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker were let out of a Panhandle prison because of the fake paperwork, which reduced their life sentences to 15 years, authorities said. They were captured Saturday at a Panama City motel.
FDLE Commissioner Jerry Bailey said Tuesday they are targeting several suspects but still have a way to go in their investigation. "Jenkins and Walker are not cooperating. In law enforcement terms, they have 'lawyered up,' but we will find the details of what led to these escapes with or without their help," he said.
CLICK THE VIDEO TO SEE A REPLAY OF THE FDLE NEWS CONFERENCE.
Their release led the Corrections Department to change its policy for early prisoner releases. It also caused the chief judge in the judicial circuit that covers Orange and Osceola counties in metro Orlando to change how orders are filed in the clerks of courts offices. The forged paperwork that led to the release of Jenkins and Walker was filed in the Orange County Clerk of Courts office.
Commissioner Bailey said their investigators are tracking the fraudulent documents through the system in Orange County to determine who, if anyone, helped guide them through the Orange County Office of the Clerk of Courts. "On this front, the operation of the clerk's office is a significant focus of our investigation," said Bailey.
Chief Circuit Judge Belvin Perry signed an order Monday that prohibits judicial orders from being accepted at drop-off boxes. His order also requires judicial assistants to keep a log of all orders to change an inmate's prison sentence.
When the clerk's office gets an order to change a sentence, the clerk must verify with the judge or judicial assistant that the order was issued, according to the new measures.
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