4 disciplined for Berk. jail escape

Sanders

One employee was fired, one demoted and two suspended as a result of an inmate's escape Jan. 26 from the Berkeley County jail.

The safety of residents is "of the utmost concern to the Sheriff's Office and the detention center," said Sheriff Wayne DeWitt. "To ensure that safety, we took immediate action as necessary."

The affected employees at the Hill-Finklea Detention Center in Moncks Corner failed to follow procedures, according to a Monday news release from the

Sheriff's Office. Dan Moon, sheriff's spokesman, would not release additional information on the employees involved.

Sheriff's Maj. Ricky Driggers also declined to release more information.

"The men and women employed with our detention facility are hardworking people, but mistakes of this magnitude cannot happen," Driggers said.

An internal investigation was launched after the escape of James A. Sanders, 39, of Cypress Campground Road in Ridgeville, Moon said.

Sanders had been sentenced Jan. 26 to time served for violating a protective order and was being prepared for release when he escaped through an employee exit in the back of the detention center. Correctional officers did not know he still faced a charge of criminal domestic violence, but would have realized it before Sanders was released, Driggers said.

In the wake of the escape, procedures for releasing prisoners have been changed. Inmates are now released at the front part of the jail, and the pre-release room is off-limits to them, Driggers said.

Sanders remains on the lam.

About 25 sightings from Huger to Charleston have been investigated, Driggers said. An intensive search of the Sangaree area Wednesday turned up nothing, and reports of sightings have dried up since then.

Officials are asking anyone with information to call 911.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or www.facebook.com/b.rindge.