Escape of Inmate at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas Raises Security Concerns

Security concerns about criminal suspects have been raised in Dallas after a capital murder suspect escaped from Parkland Memorial Hospital.

According to a report in the Dallas Morning News, a lone deputy guarding Franklin Davis removed the suspect’s leg and arm restraints so as he could take a shower before his return to jail.

The newspaper reported Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez later acknowledged that a “mistake” in security procedures that made it possible for Davis to overpower the deputy, seize his service revolver and escape from the hospital about 8 p.m. on December 2, 2012.

Although Davis was recaptured about four hours later without further incident in a van close to the hospital, the incident raises questions about the adequacy of security for inmates when they are taken away from the jail for medical reasons.

Attorneys acting for Davis said he had been experiencing physical and mental health issues for some time including dizziness and chest pains, that weren’t acted on by deputies for a number of days.

The deputy who was with the inmate suffered minor injuries and has been placed on administrative leave, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Valdez and other county officials said in the wake of the incident that a new $40 million medical facility being built at the jail site was set to alleviate those concerns. Ground was broken on the project this month.

Davis was returned to the Dallas County jail, where he remained this week in lieu of $4 million bond.

The incident raises questions about procedures and also whether the jail is responsive enough to the medical needs of inmates. The jail is the subject of at least three wrongful death lawsuits and concerns that excessive summer heat was leading to the deaths of inmates.

Valdez said investigators will work to find what happened in the Davis escape, and take steps to make sure a similar thing does not reoccur, but procedures were not “totally followed,” in the incident. The sheriff said that deputies transport about 4,200 inmates a year to Parkland, and that Davis has been the only escapee.

Mick Mickelsen is a nationally recognized criminal trial attorney with more than 30 years of experience defending people charged with white-collar crimes, drug offenses, sex crimes, murder, and other serious state and federal offenses.