NEWS

Well-Dressed Prisoner Escapes from NYC Courthouse; Reapprehended 36 Hours Later

By Matthew Harwood

The New York City Department of Correction has ordered a top-to-bottom review of its security procedures and staffing levels after a dapper prisoner in a three-piece suit slipped out of a Manhattan courthouse after claiming he was a lawyer. He was arrested by police officers 36-hours later.

Ronald Tackman, a 56-year-old prisoner facing life sentences for robbery, had previously been deemed an escape risk.

According to The New York Daily News, Tackman pulled a slick sleight of hand.

Tackman...was at 100 Centre St. Wednesday morning for a pre-trial hearing when he slipped out of a 12th-floor lockup run by city Correction Department officers.

Clad in a suit, Tackman walked down a flight of stairs to a holding area for prisoners awaiting trial, where he duped a court officer, claiming he was an attorney.

His escape has been called "a systemic failure," by Stephen J. Morello, a department spokesman, speaking with The New York Times. He expects that the review will find procedural and performance weaknesses.

One policy has already been adopted and will be instituted today, according to the Times.

As an added security measure,...all 69 inmates at Rikers Island who require special monitoring because they are considered escape risks are to be outfitted in bright orange jumpsuits whenever they travel from the jail to court, Mr. Morello said.

The Times also reports that Tackman's escape will likely lead to changes regarding where lawyers can meet with their clients. John P. McKillop, the president of the New York State Supreme Court Officers Association, said that lawyers should no longer have access to hallways that connect the courtroom to the holding areas.

The two officers responsible for supervising Tackman have been reassigned to another building pending an investigation that will likely end in disciplinary action. Norman Seabrook, the president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, told the Times that Corrections did not have enough officers watching over Tackman when he escaped.

It seems the city learned a valuable lesson: never underestimate a well-dressed man.


♦ Photo by adaenn/Flickr

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