Unfortunately, the Florida DOC or Department of Corrections made recent national news again for the wrong reason. News sources throughout the country broke a story late last week that Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker literally walked out the front door of a Florida State Prison, supervised by the Florida Department of Corrections. It was later discovered that used forged, false court documents to convince jail staff to release them. Based on media reports and statements from the Florida Department of Corrections, this is apparently the first time inmates have used forged documents like this to escape from a Florida prison. Both Jenkins and Walker were convicted of murder. Authorities were only alerted when the family of one of the victims notified law enforcement that they had been released.
Apparently, they somehow prepared a forged Order concerning a Motion to Correct “Illegal” Sentence. Traditionally, these Motions are reserved for cases where individuals are sentences above legal sentences. For example, a motion to correct illegal sentence would be appropriate if someone were sentenced to seven (7) years in a case where the maximum sentence was five (5) years. In an odd twist of fate, the “Orders” were signed by Judge Belvin Perry, who presided over the Casey Anthony Trial.
Fortunately, these men were quickly captured by a task force from the United States Marshall Services in Panama City, Florida. They were in a tourist area surrounded by put put courses, restaurants and other tourist attractions. Law enforcement announced Sunday they anticipate additional arrests will be made somewhat shortly. Given the situation, it is clear someone had to assist them in preparing the documents. It is difficult to imagine these individuals had access to a copy machine in custody. There was also a report the two may have paid up to $8,000.00 for the documents. It will be very interesting to see who assisted them in this escape. It was also reported they were waiting on a ride to Atlanta.
Apparently, the Florida Department of Corrections has instituted a new policy of requiring employees to verify the authenticity of documents relating to the release of inmates with both the Clerk of Courts and the presiding Judge. This should help to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future by actually verifying the orders were actually signed by the residing Judge.
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