Since 1996, the US Bureau of Prisons has let some prisoners transfer between prisons unescorted. How? By buying them a one-way ticket to the bus terminal nearest their new home.
How effective has it been? Historically, fewer than 1 in 500 inmates being transferred without escorts have absconded, according to bureau spokeswoman Traci Billingsley. The reason behind such moves? Purely economic, says Billingsley. USBP and US Marshals Service say it’s cheaper this way, and that they don’t have the staffing to escort every prisoner transfer.
But how much is it going to cost them to go after Dwayne Fitzen? He’s been gone since 2004, when he got off a bus in Las Vegas, on his way from Minnesota to California. He had two years left in his prison term, but he he got to Vegas, withdrew $12,000 from the bank, and disappeared. USBP notes that they’ve only lost about 180 inmates since 2006, and that of the 77 inmates who escaped during unescorted transfers from October 2003 to September 2005, all but 19 were recaptured or returned to custody. Dwayne Fitzen is one of those 19, by the way. His crimes? Cocaine distribution, along with a prior gun conviction. Additionally, he was only 12 years into a 24-year sentence, which is way outside published guidelines for such a transfer. The USBP website says inmates only have two years left on their sentence; wardens say it’s usually like 10. Fitzen had 12. Hmm.
Certainly makes you reconsider ever letting your kids travel alone by bus, doesn’t it?