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Pennsylvania Jail Will Spend Millions To Improve Security After Escape

The Pennsylvania prison jail where convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante escaped plans to spend up to $3.5 million on security improvements and to enclose its exercise yards in an effort to prevent future breakouts, USA Today reports. The Chester County Prison Board unanimously approved several security upgrades, including plans to enclose eight exercise yards with walls and a roof. The project is expected to cost $2.5 million to $3.5 million and could take up to nine months. Among other improvements proposed were additional installations of 50 to 75 security cameras, hiring more staff members to monitor the cameras, and plans to change inmate uniforms to spot escape attempts more easily. Immediate short-term measures were also suggested, including closing off the area above yard entrance doors and adding staff to supervise the yards. Funding for the improvements will come from the county's remaining federal pandemic relief allotment. The proposals follow community outrage after two inmates escaped from the prison over a three-month time span. On Aug. 31, Cavalcante used his hands and feet to "crab-walk" up a wall before climbing through razor wire to escape and eluding law enforcement for two weeks.

TranSystems, a Missouri-based engineering and design company hired for the redesign, said the enclosures for the yards would be a "permanent solution" to the security flaws that Cavalcante was able to exploit during his escape. The company said the layout was a security risk and was not sufficient to prevent escapes. The redesign plan calls for 18-foot-high masonry walls to replace the fencing around the yards, and the removal of shed roofs that inmates could scale. TranSystems said the redesign will prevent any potential escapes and intercept contraband delivery by drones or other remote devices. Cavalcante's escape and the ensuing two-week manhunt brought national attention to the prison's leadership and security. On Wednesday, Chester County Commissioner Josh Maxwell told residents the incident was "something we never expected to happen here in Chester County, a place where people move to be and feel safe." The commissioner added that the prison board had concerns over the prison's leadership and operations a year ago that prompted the board to bring in a third party to evaluate conditions. Maxwell noted that corrective actions were not undertaken by the prison's previous warden, who resigned before Cavalcante's escape.


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