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Why Michael David Elliot Was Able to Escape From State Prison in Ionia

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On February 2, 2014, convicted murderer Michael David Elliot escaped from the Ionia Correctional Facility in Michigan.

A new report lists a variety of reasons why Elliot was able to escape.

Michael David Elliot escaped on Super Bowl Sunday. He called the escape “relatively simple”.

The Michigan Attorney General’s office brought in a national expert with 37 years of corrections management to help figure out why escaping was so “simple”.

Facility operations and policies, photographs and videos of the incident, and incident reports were all reviewed. There were also interviews with Elliot, other inmates, MDOC staff, and site visits.

Officer inattention, a structurally poor fence, an inoperable alarm system, and other security weaknesses were all cited in the findings of the investigation.

Here are the specific security failures discovered by the investigation:

1.     PIRAMID Microwave Alert System Failure: There was a complete breakdown in the effectiveness of the PIRAMID microwave alert system due to officer inattention and error and a failure to ensure that the entire system was operational and aligned to detect human intrusion.

2.     Video Surveillance Failure: There was a significant breakdown in the effectiveness of the prison’s video surveillance system due to the inattentiveness of the officer responsible for monitoring the video feed and the failure to follow the staffing policy in the Control Center.

3.     E-Flex Wire Alarm System Failure: The failure to keep the E-Flex wire alarm system operational, which is contained in an interior fence, contributed to Elliot’s escape.

 4.     Prisoner Count Procedure Failure: The formal count procedures were inadequate and staff failed to follow informal count procedures. Both of these factors contributed to Elliot’s escape.

 5.     Fencing System Failure: Structural weaknesses in the fencing system were a significant contributing factor in Elliot’s escape.

6.     Security System Failure and Personnel Error and Inattention: To date, all available information indicates that Elliot acted alone in the escape, but was able to capitalize on officer inattention, officer error, and weaknesses in the ICF security system.

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