City police today captured the last of five inmates who escaped early yesterday from the state's minimum-security release center in the 900 block of Greenmount Ave.
John Hester, 21, of the 400 block of E. 23rd St., was arrested without incident at noon on the street in the 2200 block of Callow Ave. in the Reservoir Hill section of Baltimore. He had been jailed in 1986 to serve a 10-year prison term for attempted second-degree murder.
Within 20 hours after yesterday's escapes from the Baltimore Pre-release Center, the other four fugitives, all city residents, either had turned themselves in or were recaptured by police, prison officials said.
Most inmates at the center are within a year of their date of release from prison, said Greg Shipley, a spokesman for the Maryland Division of Correction.
Shipley confirmed today that investigators are looking into reports that at least some of the inmates never intended to escape permanently, but merely slipped out a window to visit girlfriends in the area. When they tried to return, they found the window locked.
There was speculation the late-hour trysts were not the first. "That's one of the things we're looking into," Shipley said. "We won't know for sure until we question everybody."
The escapes began about 1:45 a.m. yesterday when an inmate was seen scaling a fence at the prerelease center, Shipley said. The fence adjoins the Maryland Penitentiary parking lot.
Shipley said a bed check and an inmate count about 10 minutes later confirmed that the escapee was Blaine Green, 29, of the 2500 block of W. Cold Spring Lane, who was serving a six-year term for armed robbery and a handgun violation.
About two hours after Green escaped, two correctional officers assigned to the penitentiary spotted four other inmates by the fence that Green had scaled. The men fled when the officers approached.
A second bed check was conducted and officials found that Hester and three other inmates were missing.
Green was captured about 9:45 last night after city police traced him to his mother's house, authorities said.
Darryl Dabney, 27, of the 2300 block of Roslyn Ave., was the first to return to custody, returning to the prerelease center yesterday afternoon, Shipley said. Dabney was serving 10 years on two handgun violations and a parole violation for armed robbery.
Dwayne Jones, 29, of the 800 block of Exeter Hall Ave., turned himself in at the prerelease center about 8:20 p.m., Shipley said. Jones had been serving five years since July 1988 for parole and drug violations.
Michael Lewis, 21, of the 4000 block of Hilton Road, turned himself in at the Eastern police station about 9:10 p.m., said police Sgt. Deal Allen. Lewis was serving three years for violation of parole on an assault charge, a handgun violation and two counts of theft.
The inmates were to be returned today to the custody of the Division of Correction.
Shipley said the inmates face escape charges and could face more time behind bars.
He said investigators haven't determined if the escapes were coordinated or spontaneous. "It's too soon to tell how they escaped," Shipley said.
He said it's unusual for inmates "to slip out at night" because most are free to come and go as they please to jobs they hold outside the center.
"The prerelease unit is not as secure as the medium- or maximum-security institution," Shipley said. "There's not the same degree of physical security in this location."
For example, he said, the center isn't surrounded by guard towers or a fence. But, there are officers on duty, all doors are locked and windows are reinforced with wire mesh. So far this year, 23 inmates have escaped, Shipley said.