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Mechanical problem with door is what led to woman's brief flight from Macon County jail
9th May, 2006

A mechanical problem with an exterior door at the Macon County Jail and construction that disabled another security door contributed to the brief escape Friday of a 39-year-old woman who was awaiting booking into the jail.

The woman had been arrested on a residential burglary charge.

Decatur police chased the woman west across Water and Main streets before recapturing her when she turned back toward Main Street. She was slightly injured in the struggle and treated at St. Mary's Hospital before finally being jailed.

One of the two doors to the sally port was stuck in the open position because of mechanical failure, Sheriff Jerry Dawson said Monday.

When a police car drives into the sally port, the door is supposed to close behind the vehicle, which then exits by a second door when finished delivering or picking up prisoners. The entry door remained open Friday after a Decatur squad car entered about 11 a.m.

The woman was taken inside to a pre-booking area where she and Patrolman William Conley waited for another officer to bring an offense report for the woman to read.

In a sworn statement filed Monday in circuit court in support of the woman's $10,000 bond, Conley said the prisoner indicated she would decide whether to discuss two cases against her after reading the report of one of the offenses.

Unknown to Conley, the door from the pre-booking area to the sally port was not secure because of problems relating to the ongoing renovation activities at the jail, Dawson said.

Another Decatur officer told jail staff that the woman was a "potential runner," Dawson said.

"I'm upset with my staff for not taking action to manually lock the door to the sally port," Dawson said. "No one has ever escaped from the jail proper once they were inside."

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