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Special Event

Press Conference on Report Filed on Seven Escaped Texas Convicts

Aired January 11, 2001 - 10:27 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to hop over to Texas right now. We want to take you live to press conference that is under way. We're getting a briefing now on the report filed by the incident review team that looked to examine what happened when those seven escapees got out of that prison in Texas.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... made the statement that the supervisors were not trained correctional officers. Well that was -- I was wrong. While it is true they are not correctional officers, these supervisors, and all of our nonuniform employees are, in fact, trained. They go through the four weeks pre-service training at our academy, and they are well-qualified on inmate handling policies and procedures.

I regret my error, because without these individuals, these men and women, we would not be able to run the prison system as efficiently and effectively as we do.

At this time, I will turn over to Mr. Johnson for any specific questions regarding the escape and the events surrounding it.

Thank you.

GARY JOHNSON, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: MALE: One at a time.

The only note that was found that I'm aware of one published in the -- column put in the newspaper to the extent that, you haven't heard the last of us.

There may have been one staff member to this point who had had disciplinary action. The warden is going to be pursuing that after the report is issued in the next -- a few days. But once we know what that action is, then I'm sure our public information officer will let you all know the action.

QUESTION: Can you tell us how much time was involved in this escape?

JOHNSON: What you heard me say today is what we know happened. As far as the planning, we don't know. The seven guys that are still on the loose are the ones that know how much planning went into this. And we have, to this point, not found other persons, staff or offenders who have information about the planning phase.

I don't have any more information than what I've already stated today on that.

I have no information -- I mean, we -- I don't want to talk at all about the search and apprehension, but what you already know is that there were other vehicles involved once they got out of compound. That's the extent of what I know.

We've checked the vehicle log at back gate and found that that vehicle had come in several times before. So we feel like they probably just counted on this date. If there was a pickup day, that it might be on there that day also.

It is logged in at the back gate. The maintenance supervisors -- it is the maintenance truck , assigned to the maintenance department, so the maintenance supervisor would be the one that brings that it in.

QUESTION: Could any of the guards be fired?

JOHNSON: Could any of them be fired? That is a possible. It is possible, yes.

Are you a member of the media?

Well, this is just a press conference right now for the media, OK?

I'll check on that and try to get it for you.

You heard a number of potential violations that I covered during the report today, and for those violations, we expect disciplinary action will be taken. We have not -- I have to sit down with Mr. Scott at this point and talk about any personnel action that we feel would be appropriate, and we haven't done that yet, so we'll...

Termination is possible for some of these offenses.

HARRIS: We've been listening to Gary Johnson, with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, explaining -- fleshing out some extra details in the wake of this incident, teams report on what exactly happened at the Connally prison in Texas, where seven inmates have escaped there and are still on the lam. We seem them there in these pictures, not much new information coming out, at least not at this particular point.

We understand that one staffer has been disciplined. It's possible that there may be others who will be disciplined as well. The only thing new that I caught this morning is that there was talk about the pickup truck that was used -- or truck that was used in the escape was a truck coming in and out of prison before, it was used in bringing in spare parts, or replacement parts, for equipment on board, and perhaps the thinking is that the inmates were planning on the truck coming in, knowing it had been there before, and they were going to use that in their plan.

No other information coming out about the plans that these inmates may have put together. No word coming from any staff or any offenders there in the prison, so they're still working on trying to come up with more information, as are we. And once we get it, we'll give it to you.

Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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