Vulnerability assessments underway after Philadelphia prison break; 2 inmates still at large

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Thursday, May 11, 2023
Vulnerability assessments underway after Philly prison break
Vulnerability assessments are now underway at the Philadelphia prison with a close eye on the fencing. And inside the facility, correctional officers and inmates are being questioned as to how this happened.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A manhunt is still underway for two inmates who escaped a Philadelphia prison on Sunday night.

Police are searching for 18-year-old murder suspect Ameen Hurst and 24-year-old Nasir Grant, who was being held on narcotics and gun violations.

Authorities say they cut a hole in a fence at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center (P.I.C.C) around 8:30 p.m.

The prison didn't become aware the inmates were missing until 3 p.m. Monday, according to Prisons Commissioner Blanche Carney.

Vulnerability assessments are now underway at the prison with a close eye on the fencing. And inside the facility, correctional officers and inmates are being questioned as to how this happened.

READ | 16-year-old connected to 4 Philly murders, including shooting near prison

Investigators are also reviewing phone calls made by Hurst and Grant prior to their escape.

Law enforcement agencies are following every tip that comes in.

"People are now realizing they don't want the smoke coming up in their house so they are giving us information. Right now we're going through the leads," said Sheriff Rochelle Bilal.

Chopper 6 over the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center on May 8, 2023.

Hurst was charged with four murders in Philadelphia, including the killing of Rodney Hargrove, who was shot dead an hour after his release from the Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility.

Now-retired Judge James DeLeon, a Democratic candidate for Philadelphia mayor, presided over Hurst's preliminary hearing. He ruled Hurst should be jailed ahead of his trial.

"It brings back the feeling of seeing the victims' families in the courtroom, and now they have to relive what they went through," said DeLeon.

The facility remains on lockdown through Friday as a "thorough review of the perimeter and security points" continues, according to the city.

Inmates have out-of-cell time for showers and visits are permitted if they pertain to inmates' court appointments and cases. Outings for medical care are also permitted.

Missed headcounts

Carney says there were three headcounts which took place at 11 p.m. Sunday, 3 a.m. Monday, and 7 a.m. Monday before learning of the escape.

It's still unclear how the missing inmates went under the radar.

Action News asked Carney if she believed someone on her staff aided in the escape or if it was a case of negligence.

She responded by saying we would have to wait for an official investigation.

Raising concerns

The Pennsylvania Prison Society has been raising concerns about this prison for years.

"There are very clear issues with the way the jail is managed. We had 10 deaths in 2022," said Noah Barth of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, who is the prison monitoring director for the independent group.

He says he's seen problems here for years. He last inspected that facility in the fall.

"The staffing shortage and the mismanagement within the Philadelphia jails has manifested in dangerous and deadly manners every day on a daily basis," said Barth.

Barth says the recent escape points to the lack of monitoring behind these walls.

"The motivation to leave is obvious. Additionally, there has been a lack of supervision," he says.

Staffing is down about 40% at the prison.

In the meantime, police officials ask the public to be cautious of these individuals.

The U.S. Marshals and Philadelphia police have a combined reward of $25,000 for information that leads to the arrest of each escaped inmate.

Officials say if you see either of the inmates or know of their whereabouts, call the police tip line at 215-546-TIPS or call 911 immediately.