Morgan County Sheriff's Office discusses inmate work release program after wreck involving escapee

The Morgan County Sheriff's Office still has confidence in its work release program, despite a dangerous incident last week.

Posted: Oct 30, 2019 5:28 PM
Updated: Oct 30, 2019 5:31 PM

A Morgan County deputy has made a full recovery after getting into a crash with an inmate who escaped work release in Lawrence County. 

Jessy Lancaster now faces additional charges after a police pursuit that ended in a crash. 

WAAY 31 has reported on many escapes this year from work release programs. This time, a deputy's life was put in danger.

In Morgan County, 15 inmates are on work release, but at times, there can be up to 50. It allows low-risk inmates to pay debts to those they owe and society. 

Mike Swafford with the sheriff's office said even though incidents like the one last week are frustrating and dangerous, the program is not going away anytime soon. 

The sheriff's office said a deputy tried to stop Lancaster because his Ford Explorer displayed a tag that did not match the vehicle. He crashed into the deputy after a chase through a trailer park. 

"For every incident like this, there's hundreds in the work release program that don't cause a problem," Swafford said. 

Swafford said it is not the first and won't be the last time an inmate takes advantage of this program. 

"We won't reevaluate the program as in, will it exist, won't it exist?" Swafford said. "What we do is continue to reevaluate the individuals that are a part of it."

He said most of the time when an inmate is pulled off of the program, it is due to drug use. The Morgan County Sheriff's office said deputies found the synthetic drug, spice, and a glass pipe in Lancaster's truck. 

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