Originally created 05/24/00

Sheriff takes steps to prevent escapes



Richmond County Sheriff Charlie Webster met with county jail officials Tuesday and made it known the personnel problems that led to Sunday's escape of an inmate will be remedied quickly.

Samuel Clyde Prince III escaped from the Richmond County Jail at 401 Walton Way by hiding behind a trash bin after emptying some trash with four other inmates.

After he heard the door lock behind the other inmates and realized the supervising jail employee, Charles G. Harris, failed to notice he was missing, Mr. Prince scaled a fence topped with razor wire and jumped to a nearby building.

Sheriff Webster said the carelessness was unacceptable, and he made it known to jail officials that it would not be tolerated.

"I had a long talk with them today, and they know exactly how I feel about it," Sheriff Webster said. "It starts at the top and goes right to the bottom."

Greater emphasis will be placed on inmate head counts, especially with trusty inmates taken outside the jail building to complete tasks, Sheriff Webster said.

An internal affairs investigation is also under way involving Mr. Harris, who is a kitchen dietitian at the jail, Sheriff Webster said.

Mr. Harris is an Augusta Police Department veteran and can be considered a deputy, the sheriff said.

Sheriff Webster said if Mr. Harris is found to be at fault for the escape disciplinary action will be taken.

"I'm not going to take it lightly if the deputy is at fault," he said.

The search for Mr. Prince continued Tuesday. Investigators have information that he was still in the area, Sheriff Webster said.

"He's going to slip up pretty soon, and we're going to catch him," he said.

The sheriff's department also has offered a $500 reward for information leading to Mr. Prince's capture. Anyone with information should call the sheriff's department at (706) 821-1020 or (706) 821-1080.

Reach Mark Mathis at (706) 823-3227 or marmathis@yahoo.com.