The escape late Thursday night from Lorton Reformatory of a minimum security prisoner who District officials said "just walked away" from the facility before being captured two hours later has infuriated officials in Fairfax County, where the District facility is located.
"I am just totally fed up," said Fairfax County Board Chairman John F. Herrity. "This is just the straw that broke the camel's back."
The D.C. prison has been a frequent source of friction between District and Fairfax officials, who claim it is run without regard for the safety of Fairfax County residents.
Fairfax officials said yesterday they first learned of Thursday's escape not from Lorton officials, but from one of their own police officers, who was told of the escape by two Lorton guards as he was writing a ticket near the prison. The officer then notified his superiors of the escape, officials said.
The prisoner, Alan A. Stevens, 25, was recaptured without incident just before 2 a.m. in the Occoquan area of Prince William County, about three miles from the prison, according to a D.C. Department of Corrections spokesman. Stevens was crouching in the stairwell of an apartment building, where he had gone to escape the cold, the spokesman said.
Stevens, who began serving a two- to six-year sentence for burglary in Nov. 1983, has now been moved to maximum security at Lorton and has been charged with escape, according to District officials.
"With the other disturbances that have happened in the last few weeks, this indicates to me a total conspiracy by D.C. to make sure that people and officials are not aware of the situations that are occurring," Herrity said yesterday. "This is not an accident."
Herrity said that on Monday he would ask other Fairfax supervisors to support his call for a meeting with D.C. Mayor Marion Barry to discuss the Lorton situation. He also said he is seeking legal advice from the county attorney on whether court action would be appropriate to force prison officials to be more prompt and forthcoming.
There was a dispute yesterday over just how long it took Lorton officials to notify Fairfax officials of the escape into their territory.
County police spokesman Warren Carmichael said the call came at about 12:12 a.m., after police learned of the escape from their own officer. Lorton officials told Fairfax police at the time that the escape was first noticed two hours earlier, at 10:30 p.m. Yesterday, D.C. Corrections spokesman Leroy Anderson said the escape was first noticed at 11:37 p.m.
Asked how Stevens had escaped, Anderson said: "He just walked away, out the front gate." The section of the facility in which Stevens had been held "is not a security institution, it's a trusty institution," Anderson said. The minimum security area of Lorton has no guard towers and only a partially constructed fence.