Four inmates escape from the Federal Correctional Institution in Virginia in latest jail break
Four inmates escaped from a federal prison in Virginia on Saturday morning during the latest series of prison breaks at Bureau of Prisons facilities, which has been plagued for years by chronic violence, significant security problems and ongoing staff shortages.
Corey Branch, Travares Lajuane Graham, Lamonte Rashawn Willis and Kareem Allen were reported missing at the satellite camp of the Federal Correctional Complex Petersburg in Hopewell, Virginia, at around 1:45 a.m. Saturday during a security check, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said in a press release. . †
The Bureau of Prisons immediately notified the US Marshals, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies and launched an internal investigation.
Branch, 41, was sentenced to 16 months in prison on charges of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and possession of a firearm as a felon
Graham, 44, was given a total sentence of 120 months for possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and 28 grams or more of cocaine base
AP reporter Mike Balsamo said the Bureau of Prisons has notified US Marshals, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies and has launched an internal investigation.
The four inmates who escaped were in prison on drug and weapons charges, according to prison records.
Branch, 41, was sentenced to more than 13 years in the Eastern District of Virginia for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and felons in possession of a firearm. He is scheduled for release on January 31, 2028.
Willis, 30, was sentenced to 18 years in the Eastern District of Virginia for possessing and concealing a stolen firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. It is scheduled for release on March 20, 2030.
Shaw, 46, was sentenced to more than 16 years in the Western District of Virginia for conspiracy to distribute a measurable amount of heroin.
Graham, 44, was sentenced to 10 years in the Eastern District of North Carolina for possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and 28 grams or more of cocaine base, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. It is scheduled for release on June 25, 2025.
According to the Associated Press, the agency has been under investigation for prisoner escapes in recent years.
At some institutions, doors don’t stay open, security cameras are broken and officials sometimes don’t notice for hours that a detainee is missing.
Security is so lax at a Texas incarceration that local law enforcement officers privately joke about the apparent “open door” policy.
Willis, 30, was sentenced to 216 months for possession and concealment of a stolen firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
Shaw, 46, was sentenced to 194 months for conspiracy to distribute a measurable amount of heroin
The Virginia Federal Correctional Complex in Petersburg, Virginia (FCC Petersburg) is a minimum security facility near Hopewell that has 185 male offenders
Last summer, the Associated Press reported that within 18 months – between 2019 and 2021, 29 inmates escaped federal incarceration in the US
All escapes took place in federal prison camps with minimal security, some of which don’t even have fences, and inmates that pose the lowest security risk, according to the Bureau of Prisons.
“Anyone can escape any camp any time of any day,” said Jack Donson, a prison counselor and former case manager at a federal prison in Otisville, New York. “They are not secured facilities. They have no fence, no metal detectors.”
The figures raise serious concerns that the agency, long beleaguered by chronic mismanagement, misconduct and a serious staffing crisis, is unable to perform its most basic function: keeping inmates in prison.
Federal officials often refer to them as “runaways,” although it is still a federal prison break under the law and law enforcement officers say there is still a risk to the community when an inmate goes into hiding.
“These are very small, unsafe facilities,” said Cameron Lindsay, a retired Bureau of Prisons director who now testifies as an expert witness on prison cases.
Because of their size and the generally low risk the inmates pose, federal prison camps often have the lowest staffing levels in the Bureau of Prisons system, sometimes with just one officer supervising inmates on duty, he said.
The Virginia Federal Correctional Complex in Petersburg, Virginia (FCC Petersburg) is a minimum security facility near Hopewell that detains 185 male offenders.
Anyone with information about the four men is encouraged to call the United States Marshals Service at (804) 545-8501.