Mich. prison head claims responsibility for escape - WNEM TV 5

Mich. prison head claims responsibility for escape

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Michigan's top prison official is taking responsibility for the 24-hour escape of a convicted killer who got as far as Indiana before being captured.

Corrections Department Director Dan Heyns told Michigan lawmakers Thursday he's certain of the root cause and circumstances surrounding the Feb. 2 escape. But he declined to share many specifics, citing an ongoing attorney general's investigation.

TV5's Craig McMorris was at today's testimony and said Heyns believes the technology was in place to prevent the escape. He says the escapee exploited vulnerabilities but did not want to elaborate in public. Heyns says despite the fact Elliott was a convicted murderer there were no indications he was a flight risk.

Heyns is speeding up the upgrade of surveillance cameras and lighting at the Ionia prison. He's also reviewing snow removal policies and the color of inmates' clothing.

Heyns says budget cuts weren't a factor and if monitoring equipment had been properly maintained, Michael Elliot would've been seen before leaving the grounds.

The 40-year-old was arrested in Indiana. A request for Elliot's return to Michigan was sent Wednesday to Indiana's governor.

And the police officer who captured Elliot has been awarded special honors. Indiana's governor presented sheriff's deputy Slawek Czupryna with a commendation certificate on Thursday.

"It feels great to be, not just for me, but the whole department that was involved and as well as assisting agencies," said Czupryna. 

Czupryna caught Elliot following a high-speed chase.  

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