FDLE: 'Prison gang' helped escaped murderers

FDLE: 'Prison gang' helped escaped murderers

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The head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told a Florida Senate committee that two escaped Orange County murderers got help from both inside an outside the prison. 

Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker were released from a state corrections facility after filing fraudulent papers reducing their sentences. FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey says they are starting to figure out how the entire plan was hatched and executed.

"As for what we know today, there was a group, a gang, inside the walls that were planning and teaching this device, this fraudulent activity," said Bailey.  "We know that outside they were receiving help from associates, and we have a list of suspects."

The pair of convicted killers had someone turn in paperwork for them stating their sentence was to be reduced, and the inmates were to be released.  Orange Osceola Chief Judge Belvin Perry says his signature was on those papers, but he did not sign them.

"I suspect, in looking at previous orders, it was lifted off some previous orders I had entered in the State of Florida versus Casey Anthony," said Judge Perry.

The FDLE and the Department of Corrections are making several changes in the wake of the scandal, but senators, like Anitere Flores of Miami, want to make sure the changes actually work.

"How secure is secure?" asked Sen. Flores.  "Because, I mean this process up until now was incredibly secure, and someone is going to fall through the cracks."

One-hundred percent accuracy is what all involved are trying for, but Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews had a warning for legislators.

"I'd like to say that we can do that, but we all know with almost 101,000 inmates we have out there right now, if they're not already scamming for the next fix, they will be shortly," said Crews.

The state is looking at changing to a fully electronic system for sentence reduction orders, but it is still working on a way to make that system fully safe.

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