D.C. officials, responding to complaints about recent escapes from Lorton prison, acknowledged yesterday that the facility's security has been lax and said the city is in the process of firing at least two guards there.
City Administrator Elijah B. Rogers nonetheless rejected complaints from officials in Fairfax County, where the prison is located, that nearby residents had been endangered by six escapes in less than three months.
"While conceding procedural deficiencies, I cannot see that these contributed to any clear and present danger to area residents," Rogers wrote in a letter to County Executive J. Hamilton Lambert.
Lambert had complained to Mayor Marion Barry that officials at Lorton, a 3,000-acre District-run corrections facility in southern Fairfax, had failed to notify county police promptly of two of the recent escapes.
In one case, Lambert said, Fairfax police first learned of the escape from a resident who saw a man crawl out of a drainage ditch and don a jogging suit.
Rogers acknowledged in the letter, released by Fairfax officials, that "certain employes were not diligent" following the escapes. D.C. Corrections Department spokesman LeRoy B. Anderson said the agency has taken initial steps to dismiss "at least two" employes.
Lambert and Fairfax Board Chairman John F. Herrity, who complained vociferously about the escapes, both were out of the county yesterday and could not be reached for comment. Rogers said he spoke with Lambert several times before sending the letter and added: "We both consider the matter closed."
He said one failure to notify Fairfax police, as required by an agreement, resulted from a bureaucratic snafu.
"Phase 1 [notice of a suspected escape] was not put into effect," Rogers wrote, "because Corrections' staff already was in Phase 2 [searching for the escapee]."