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Miami jail security breach studied

MIAMI — Miami-Dade County corrections officials say they are investigating a security breach that opened jail cell doors in a maximum security wing.

When the electronically controlled doors opened June 13 at the Miami jail, four inmates attacked a fifth inmate, Kenneth Williams, who leapt from a second-floor tier to escape.

Williams remains hospitalized with injuries to his ankle and back.

The Miami Herald obtained internal corrections department reports about the breach. The agency's assistant director, Marydell Guevara, says 48 cell doors were open for less than five minutes.

Corrections officers subdued the four inmates with pepper spray and confiscated at least two homemade shanks, the newspaper reported. Williams was charged with having a contraband blade.

Officials say a similar breach suddenly opened cell doors May 20, though no incidents involving inmates were reported.

"I still can't believe it actually occurred," said Williams' lawyer, J.C. Dugue. "The negligence is amazing, especially if they knew this was already a problem. My client has lots of enemies in jail, and he is in a safety cell for a reason."

The new computerized sliding door system is part of an ongoing $1.4 million security upgrade that is scheduled for completion next month. Investigators are looking at the control panel that operates the sliding doors.

Officers said the control panel's lighting went out when the system malfunctioned on June 13. They also said no one pressed the button for the door release feature, but a review of the internal computer showed "operator error," Guevara said.

Miami jail security breach studied 07/04/13 [Last modified: Thursday, July 4, 2013 9:45pm]
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