Posted at: 07/15/2014 4:43 PM
Updated at: 07/15/2014 6:31 PM
By: Laurie Stribling
"If anything is going to work, it's going to be believing people can change in what we call community connections," NERCC Superintendent Kathy Trihey said.
That's the mentality behind the Northeast Regional Corrections Center. Three offenders walked away from the facility last week and one is still at large.
Trihey said they think they left during recreation time. Corrections staff members supervise, but there were about 90 offenders for them to watch.
"These three men had a plan to take off," Trihey said. "They can just walk away."
The men at NERCC are described as non-violent criminals. Most of them are serving for probation violations, drug and alcohol crimes, criminal sexual conduct or burglary.
The facility is an old farm in Saginaw about seven miles from Highway 53. This makes it difficult for offenders to get far.
Trihey said last year six offenders walked away from NERCC. She said some years more offenders leave and sometimes no one leaves. If an offender does walk away, they go back into custody.
"They end up back in the jail," Trihey said. "Generally speaking, we do not take them back."
Trihey said almost 85 percent of NERCC offenders don't commit another felony crime within three years. That compares to 63 percent in statewide prisons.
NERCC said they notified the Saint Louis County Sheriff's Office immediately after the escape, but they did not alert the public.
The Sheriff's Office said they sometimes send a press release on NERCC offenders who leave, but did not initially in this case.