As authorities fully believe that fugitives Richard Matt and David Sweat had insider help to escape the Clinton Correctional Facility, former inmates think otherwise. The relationship, from the smallest encounter to routine activities, among employees and inmates are very well-defined, according to former inmates Marty Tankleff and Jeremy Getman.
No employee will cross the line
Platonic and romantic relationships between an inmate and an employee are barred at Clinton Correctional Facility, Tankleff and Getman were one in saying. While inmates and employees are never prohibited to engage in small talk, employees would never ever cross the line, they said.
There are instances when an employee would offer a stick of cigarette to an inmate, Tankleff said. One Thanksgiving, he remembered jail guards bringing pumpkin and apple pies to share with the inmates. But beyond these, he has never witnessed a relationship that could escalate as far as helping an inmate escape prison, he said.
“I never saw an officer cross the line where they would really risk losing their job. Never heard about one bringing in a weapon, a cellphone or drugs. It can happen — I’m sure it has happened. But no one’s going to lose their jobs because they brought in an apple pie,” Tankleff told NBC News.
Touching, even the harmless act of shaking hands, is not permitted inside Clinton, he said.
“There’s a sense that if you work around someone, that usually encompasses some sort of mutual respect, understanding. You never really cross the border, but the mutual respect increases,” he said.
Keeping a cool distance
Getman on the other hand said that routines inside jail may give birth to a friendship between an inmate and an employee, but anyone will always choose to keep a cool distance.
“There’s instances when things become so routine, you do tend to let your guard down and you get to talking. The worker might mention something about their life, like how their wife does this or their husband does that,” Getman told NBC News.
He said he cannot remember a single instance where a civilian employee brought a cellphone inside. But if any of them brings his mobile phone and allow an inmate to even touch it, officers will snatch it immediately.
“The higher-ups would view that as if you handed me a grappling hook with a piece of rope,” he said.
Search stretches to Vermont
The search for fugitives Matt and Sweat has been extended to Vermont, Governor Peter Shumlin told CNN. Police are now patrolling Lake Champlain, scouring all campsites and public campgrounds.
“New York was going to be hot and Vermont … cooler in terms of law enforcement,” he said.
“We have information that would suggest that Vermont was discussed as a possible location,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes on the other hand warned that the inmates are now desperate and this makes them all the more dangerous. The duo are now running without food, water, money.
“That would put every family in that rural (area) in extreme danger. If they’re feeling like cornered animals out there, they are going to do something drastic to try to ensure their physical survival and their continued freedom out of that prison,” Fuentes said.
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