About the time the escaped jail inmate was running through the Star’s parking lot around noon March 6th 2019, my sources had my telephone ringing.
According to the Star online article, probably won’t hit the print issue until tomorrow, Joseph Lee Short, handcuffed and in an orange jail jumpsuit had assaulted two officers, and escaped from the Courthouse premises heading South. According to the Star, from accounts provided by Sheriff Alan Norman, Short had allegedly robbed the Bank of Ozark’s in Kings Mountain and had been in jail since May. My sources say Short is too dangerous a prisoner to have been allowed to escape captivity in the first place.
The Star article also contained statements from an unnamed woman who said that Short ran past her in the Gardner Building parking lot and before she could dial 911, police were everywhere. This seemed like a typical Star report to indicate government agencies were on top of the situation more than they actually were. If the “police” were so hot on Short’s heels, how did he get all the way up to the Post Office area where he was captured. Also, you have to wonder why such a dangerous prisoner was only handcuffed and not shackled too. Even Sheriff Alan Norman’s comment to the Star about how dangerous it is transporting prisoners indicates a breakdown or lack of adequate safety protocols regarding shackling prisoners during transport and also in the Courthouse and even in the Courtroom. Since running the jail, transporting and handling prisoners are basic functions of the Sheriff’s Department, you have to wonder why incidents such as this are not explained to the public in more detail. Just like the woman in the parking lot, she was at risk of being taken hostage by a desperate person and being hurt or killed in the process. This incident deserves much more explanation from Sheriff Alan Norman before it passes into history. Only to be forgotten until the next incident.
But, there is more.
My sources indicate there are major problems in the jail and in the Sheriff’s Department that need resolution and Sheriff Alan Norman doesn’t do much inspection tours of the jail.
And More than that according to sources:
• Drugs, cigarettes and other such paraphernalia are regularly smuggled into the jail. By Sheriff’s Department Officers. And when caught, nothing is done.
• Jailor staffing is inadequate, mostly because the turnover rate is so high.
• A female Officer was allegedly caught giving oral sex to a male prisoner. A child killer. And received no disciplinary action.
• A female Officer has sex with female inmates and receives no disciplinary actions.
• Inmates on suicide watch are placed in a cell with no sanitary facilities other than a drain in the floor. When a prisoner urinates, they urinate in the drain. When they do Number Two, they have to squish the feces through the drain with their fingers.
• An Officer was assaulted in the jail by a prisoner and was out of work for several months.
• Other issues were revealed that I am not mentioning for good reason.
Of course, many readers will remember that the jail is also dangerous for the inmates.
The Death of Tyrese Odoms when jail officials refused medical attention to an appendix rupture. Even after Odoms lay on the floor screaming in pain for days. Other inmates also called for help to no avail.
The more recent hanging (suicide) death of Chris Cody. A drug user over the years whose court ordered drug treatments were never enough. Although the cost was high.
The bottom line here is everybody (At least the Star) thinks that every report about law enforcement or anything else, has to be prefaced with “How hard everybody works and that they risk their lives every day to protect the public.” I say that goes without saying. We should all support law enforcement and provide them with all the “tools” that they need. But we should all demand that when there are problems and issues, those problems and issues must be identified and resolved to everybody’s satisfaction. No blank checks and especially NO COVER-UPS!!!
Sheriff Alan Norman as well as the County Commissioners, we want and we demand that all the problems and issues within the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Department, jail, etc. be identified and cost-effective resolutions be recommended for examination. Emphasis on ALL. And that all Press Releases are distributed to ALL those that ask for them. And I am Asking.
The people of Cleveland County want to know.