Sheriff Mike Winters says he's embarrassed that a prisoner managed to escape from the Jackson County Jail last week. It's certainly embarrassing — and alarming — that police, sheriff's deputies, the FBI and U.S. Marshals haven't been able to find and capture the escapee more than a week later, but Winters shouldn't beat himself up too badly over the initial escape.
Bradley William Monical, 42, managed to get out by standing on another prisoner's shoulders in the jail's recreation hall, removing a section of metal mesh from the overhead covering and leaping into a tree near the jail building. It was raining at the time — 10 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19 — so police K-9 units had difficulty picking up a scent. Monical was still at large Thursday, Nov. 29.
Winters immediately vowed to find out how Monical managed to remove the metal mesh, and the trees the prisoner jumped into were swiftly cut down.
It's understandable that the sheriff is embarrassed that his jail security was breached. Escapes from the county jail since it was built in 1981 have been rare, but they have occurred. And chances are they will again.
There is a good reason for that.
Monical, who was convicted on two counts of robbery in Coos County in April 2011, was already facing 22 years in state prison. He was brought to Jackson County in August of 2011 to await trial for a bank robbery he is accused of committing in Ashland in 2010.
On the night he escaped, he had been in the Jackson County Jail for more than a year — far longer than most prisoners spend in that facility — with little to do but figure out a way to escape. He also had little to lose. He was looking at 22 years in state prison, plus whatever sentence he might receive if convicted in the Ashland case.
Monical isn't the only one to escape from the county jail, but he's the only one to do it from the exercise area. The other successful attempts mostly involved breaking windows, which were reinforced with metal bars after the fact, or using some kind of deception.
Monical also had tried to escape from custody in Coos County — something local authorities weren't told.
Winters said that doesn't excuse the escape, and he vowed, "When I get done with this, we're never having another one."
We certainly hope that's true, but we wouldn't bet on it.