CHARLESTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — It was as simple as opening their windows and walking away. That’s how two inmates escaped from the Charleston Correctional Facility Sunday night.
There were no bars on the windows, no fence surrounding the perimeter of the prison.
Police captured Phillip Gardiner, 20, of Bangor, and Randal Moulton, 24, of Belfast, off of the Pushaw Road in Glenburn early Thursday morning.
The inmates easily escaped because the Charleston Correctional Facility is a minimum security prison.
“[The facility] is not difficult to walk away from,” said Department of Corrections spokesperson Judy Plummer.
But according to a former Director of the Charleston Facility, Jeffrey Merrill, it’s for good reason.
He expalined in minimum security prison, inmates are able to move more freely, work in the community, and even earn wages.
“These are critical steps in incarceration,” said Merrill. “Prisoners need to have the opportunity to be rewarded for good behavior…and so in order to do that, you have to allow them to be in a very open environment.”
The minimum security correctional facilities in Maine are the Balduc Correctional Facility, Charleston Correctional Facility, and Downeast Correctional Facility.
Before inmates are admitted to the program, they are subject to screening.
Evaluators take the inmates’ current convictions, criminal history, past escapes, and disciplinary history into account, according to Plummer.
While she does acknowledge escape can be easy, Plummer said it does not happen often.
She said at the Charleston Facility, there have been six escapes in the last 15 years, which averages 1 out of every 527 inmates.
When asked if the recent escapes have prompted any review of security policies, Plummer said the Department of Corrections reviews policies every 3-5 years, and will continue to follow that protocol.
Gardiner and Moulton are being held at the Penobscot County Jail, and face an additional five years in prison for escaping from the facility.