The United States Penitentiary in Atlanta is a sprawling complex not far from Zoo Atlanta and the downtown area. It is mainly a facility for medium to minimum security federal inmates and neighbors in the area during the mid-1980s told tales of prisoners easily buying liquor and cigarettes in the community and returning to the prison at night. Now a recent rash of escapes is being made public and includes a private pick-up and delivery service for inmates, sort of an Uber inmate scheme.
Prosecutors have now charged inmate Deldrick Jackson, 41, and his fiancée Kelly Bass, 38, on charges of aiding in the temporary escapes and smuggling contraband into the prison. The prosecutors maintain that from November 2016 through April 2017, Bass received about $4K in money transfers from accounts associated with federal inmates or their families. Surveillance footage shows Bass’ silver SUV picking up escaping inmates, driving them to a hotel and returning a few hours later to drop them back off.
In April, both Bass and Jackson were caught red-handed by the FBI while riding in the car on the way back to prison. According to the FBI, a search of the vehicle uncovered two cellphones, a large box filled with packs of cigarettes and several bottles of alcohol. The FBI further stated that Jackson was advised of his rights and then admitted he was a federal prison inmate and that he had escaped by walking out the prison’s front gate, as he had multiple times before.
U.S. Attorney John Horn said in a statement, “Inmates who escape from custody present a threat to the safety of citizens in the area. Safety concerns also arise when inmates return with contraband to feed a thriving black market.”
In December of 2016, officers in the Atlanta Police Department discovered two holes in the prison fence used for escape. In addition, there were several trash bags, a prison-issued laundry bag and an MP3 player in the area.