After homicide suspect Danilo Cavalcante escaped Chester County Prison in late summer and led authorities on a high-profile manhunt, Bucks County officials conducted a review of security at the county jail.
Bucks County Department of Corrections Director Dave Kratz said Wednesday that the review took place following the Cavalcante incident and in response to other escapes in the state.
For safety reasons, Kratz did not wish to discuss specific security measures, but he said the department’s corrections officers conduct perimeter checks, cell inspections, contraband watches, and other measures that take place every single day.
A “real intense security audit” was undertaken and put people in the recreation yards of the correctional facility in Doylestown Township to see if they could escape. The goal was to look for weaknesses in the facility’s security, Kratz said.
Bucks County Emergency Management officials, prison officials, local law enforcement, the sheriff’s office, and the district attorney’s office met to review plans and discuss what would happen if a prisoner escaped. Bucks County officials consulted with Chester County emergency management officials, Kratz said.
Kratz stated that one issue in Chester County was the very rural setting of the search area, while the Bucks County Correctional Facility is in a more suburban setting.
“We have schools close by, businesses, public transportation nearby,” he said.
If the worst case did happen, Kratz said the county would focus on putting out correct information. He said misinformation caused problems with the Chester County manhunt.
The Bucks County Correctional Facility largely deals with pre-trial inmates of all types. State prisons deal with longer sentences after a defendant is sentenced.
While there have been inmates who have escaped custody while in transit to the facility or on work details, the Bucks County Correctional Facility has not suffered a high-profile escape in recent years.
As of October, the Bucks County Correctional Facility had 703 inmates in the main jail and 139 in the community corrections center, which is for lower level offenders, according to county data.
According to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and Pennsylvania State Police, Cavalcante’s daring summer escape involved him climbing a wall in the prison’s yard, climbing over razor wire, and jumping from a roof.
Cavalcante, 34, was on the run for two weeks before being captured by state and federal authorities in Chester County.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office has charged Cavalcante with burglary, criminal trespass, theft and possession of a firearm, receiving stolen property, and related offenses for crimes allegedly committed while he was on the run. He also is facing charges related to the escape.
Last week, an inmate on a work detail escaped the custody of Philadelphia officials and he is being sought. The escaped inmate – Gino Hagenkotter, 34 – has ties to the Levittown area.