Officials in Iowa’s largest county are investigating security at a privately-run jail in northwest Missouri after four Polk County inmates escaped early yesterday from the jail in Pattonsburg, Missouri. Two of the inmates had been recaptured by Thursday afternoon. The other two are still at large. Polk County Sheriff Dennis Anderson says the pair could be anywhere, but they’re probably in the Des Moines area.The men escaped from the Missouri jail sometime between two and four o’clock Thursday morning. Anderson says his chief concern is security at the Pattonsburg prison, as the four were loose at least four hours before prison officials notified other authorities of the escape. A detective and a Polk County jail administrator are in Pattonsburg investigating the incident — and the time lag. Sheriff Anderson says he’ll be making recommendations to the firm that runs the prison in Pattonsburg to ensure an escape like this doesn’t happen again. Polk County is currently paying to house 143 inmates in Pattonsburg.Anderson says it “would not be wise” to keep the inmates there if the company’s not willing to make the necessary corrections. The four men were in Pattonsburg’s housing unit when they escaped. Anderson says he’s not at liberty to discuss exactly how the prisoners escaped because — until the problems are correctly — he doesn’t want to “put on a how-to clinic” about how to escape from the Pattonsburg jail. Anderson says the escape highlights the need for a new Polk County Jail.Anderson says inmates in his custody should be housed in Polk County, so they “can control this type of situation.” There are 248 inmates in the present Polk County Jail. There are another 100 housed in other county jails — in addition to the 143 who’ve been transferred to the Missouri facility. Anderson says is working with consultants and an architectural firm, and hopes to release four different prison expansion plans to the public by October 1st.Anderson says people don’t want to spend the money unless he can show the plan is reasonable.
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