Ridgeland Escapees Still on the Loose - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/23/03

Ridgeland Escapees Still on the Loose

John Griffin John Griffin
Shawn Wiles Shawn Wiles

Have you seen John Griffin or Shawn Wiles? They're still on the run after escaping from the Ridgeland Correctional Institution Friday. The guards noticed the men missing during a routine head count. Even worse, it's the second time they've escaped in a month. Investigators think they headed for Ridgeland and stole a car.

No surprise, people living around the prison are concerned. While most people aren't too worried about their personal safety, they do think there's a big problem when the same people can get out of jail twice in one month. More than anything, people living around Ridgeland think the more it happens, the more likely other inmates will try to escape.

"If these guys can get out a second time, that means there was no message sent to the rest of the prisoners," said resident Trish Murley. "Why not? If you can get back out, why not do it?"

Murley's got a reason to be worried. Her van was the getaway vehicle Griffin and Miles escaped in the first time. "It's scary. It's a little horrifying," she said. "I'd like them to be able to notify the community. I think that seems most fair, and they don't have any kind of a warning system."

Jasper County has no control over the prison, since it's a state-run facility, but that doesn't mean county officials aren't paying attention to the situation. "I'll contact the governor or state corrections department and find out their feel about it, and see what we can do about getting some more help in Jasper County," said Gladys Jones of the county council.

Other people around town say it's a little frustrating to hear about the escapes, but aren't too worried at this point. "If they're just in for misdemeanors and stuff like that, I wouldn't be too concerned about it," said resident Leo Frazier. "But if they were murderers or something like that, it'd be different."

We couldn't get a comment from the Ridgeland Correctional Institution. They're still looking for Griffin and Wiles, and would like any help they can get.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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