"Escape from Alcatraz" showed the dedicated work of prisoners who were able to craft dummies of themselves to fool guards making the rounds of the cells for the prisoner count. That's the same tactic that Las Vegas pipe-bomber Porfirio Duarte-Herrera used when he staged his escape on Tuesday, the Daily Beast reported Thursday.
Duarte-Herrera was serving a life sentence after setting up a motion-activated pipe bomb in a coffee cup that killed a hot dog stand worker in 2007.
Fox5 Vegas revealed that Duarte-Herrera used cardboard to create a dummy of himself and battery acid to eat away at the window frame of his medium security cell. He made it through the Indian Springs prison's fence without anyone in the guard tower spotting him. There's a reason for that, though. Police union president Paul Lunkwitz revealed that the tower has actually been unmanned at the prison for years.
“Not only could that tower see the unit, but the tower could see the fence line where the damage was that allowed the inmate to get through,” Lunkwitz complained.
The Las Vegas Metro Police spotted Duarte-Herrera on Thursday after a tip and took him back into custody, but the escape is raising questions by lawmakers about how the inmate escaped.
Gov. Steve Sisolak was furious, saying in a statement that it was "unacceptable" and demanding the Department of Corrections do an investigation immediately.
The probe will likely find what has been happening around the country, however. Prisons are incredibly understaffed and underfunded across the country. But such shortages are not a new phenomenon, as no one wants to work in the dangerous and often times deadly job for low pay. During COVID many non-violent offenders were released to help with the overcrowding issues and incentives were offered to anyone willing to serve as a corrections officer.
“There are dozens of reasons to leave and very few to stay,” said Brian Dawe, who runs the nonprofit One Voice United, which supports corrections officers. “Understaffing, poor pay, poor benefits, horrendous working conditions. … Officers and their families in many jurisdictions have had enough.”