(NewsNation) — Recent high-profile inmate escapes have some asking what is going on in jails and prisons across America?
No federal database exists that tracks escapes around the country. Experts, though, told NewsNation’s Brian Entin these inmate escapes are more common than the public may think — they just don’t get the same attention that the recent incident in Pennsylvania does.
It was there that an inmate crab-walked his way out of Chester County Prison, and went on the run for 14 days before being apprehended by police.
Experts say a major reason these escapes happen is the massive shortage of correctional officers, which is an issue happening around the country.
Contributing to this shortage is low pay, which causes facilities to have a hard time retaining people.
The median annual wage for correctional officers and jailers was 49,610 in May 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Different states have come up with their own solutions for this, at least in the short term. Florida, for instance, activated the National Guard to assist the Florida Department of Corrections last year because there is such a serious shortage.
“I think you need to have, quite frankly, politicians that have the courage to say that this is important,” law enforcement expert Jorge Colina said.
A lot of elected officials have no problem saying they support law enforcement, Colina said, but they’re not putting their money where their mouth is.
“When there’s a budget item that comes up that speaks to a jail facility, whether it’s cameras, additional personnel, whether it’s enhancements to the facility, they don’t want to sponsor that,” Colina said.