Jennings County deputies will be tightening their procedures for transporting prisoners to court after an inmate escaped recently. The sheriff’s department announced yesterday that it had concluded the investigation into the escape of 41-year-old Kim Lynn Patton from the courthouse in Vernon on March 1st.
Sheriff Kenny Freeman says that a handcuff key was lost at the booking counter in the jail and ended up in Patton’s possession. While jail officers noticed the missing key, it was not recovered before Patton’s escape.
The department said that only a single officer was transporting prisoners on the day Patton escaped, due to staffing shortages. And because the department did not have video cameras trained on the prisoners in the transport cage, the officer did not see Patton undoing his restraints.
Because there was no marked parking spaces just for jail vehicles, the officer had to park farther away from the courthouse than normal to deliver the prisoner.
Freeman said old procedures from previous administrations will be replaced with new procedures and policies. Those changes include making sure all inmates at risk of escaping are transported with two officers, cameras will be used in the transport cage, and dedicated parking spaces close to the courthouse will be set aside for transport parking only.
Freeman also thanked the community for its support and the information that led to Patton being located.