In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.

4 Prison Workers on Leave After Inmate’s Escape

The board of directors at Wyatt Detention Facility is set to hold an emergency meeting tonight

Four prison workers are on leave after an inmate escaped on New Year's Eve, sparking a five-day manhunt.

James Walker Morales escaped from Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island, breaking out during recreation by climbing to a roof and ultimately scaling barbed wire fences, according to the warden.

Morales was captured Thursday in Somerville, Massachusetts, after he attempted to rob a bank.

U.S. Marshals were notified about the escape nearly five hours after it happened. In that time, Morales is accused of stealing a getaway car and ditching it in Framingham, Massachusetts, where his ex-girlfriend lives.

An internal and independent investigation is underway at the prison. Three corrections officers and a lieutenant are on paid leave.

"Anyone and everyone responsible for this escape will be held accountable," said Luke Gallant, chair of Wyatt's board of directors. "We want to know what happened, how it happened, and we want to improve the Wyatt so that it never happens again."

Richard Ferruccio, president of the Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers — which does not represent the officers at the Wyatt Detention Facility — said staffing levels may have played a role in Morales' escape. There are more than 40 vacancies for corrections officers at the facility.

"When you run short, you can have a breakdown. I think that's kinda what happened here," he said.

A union official who represents the workers at Wyatt Detention Facility says corrections officers can work up to 80 hours a week, and that wages are substantially less than a state-run facility.

"We want to learn the timeline of counts, and accountability of Mr. Morales, from the time he was allowed to enter the recreation yard until the facility discovered him to be missing at 10:30," Gallant said.

Morales — a former Army reservist — stole six assault rifles and 10 handguns from the Lincoln Stoddard Army Reserve Center in Worcester in 2015. He was arrested in New York days after the theft, and most of the guns were later recovered. He has a long criminal history dating back to 2009, including a child rape charge for allegedly sexually assaulting his friend's young daughter.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Rhode Island said Morales has also been charged with escape from custody of the attorney general as a result of his prison break.

Contact Us