FARMVILLE, Va. (WTVD) -- Federal inmates will no longer be housed in the Virginia jail that saw two inmates escape in April, the ABC11 I-Team has learned.
Piedmont Regional Jail Authority Board held a specially-called meeting Tuesday in the wake of the escapes of Alder Marin-Sotelo and Bruce Callahan. Both inmates were in federal custody brought in by the United State Marshals Service.
The US Marshals decided they would end their deal to house inmates with Piedmont Regional Jail.
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That will result in a 42% reduction of inmates in the jail and leave a $2.7 million budget shortfall.
Jail leaders remained tight-lipped Tuesday about the decision; they also did not offer an apology or explanation for the escapes during the open session. The Board did enter a closed session to discuss personnel, along with public safety and security.
"It was just a blessing. We had an incident occur last week and it was truly a blessing that no one was harmed and both escapees were apprehended and in custody at this time," Jail Superintendent Jerry Townsend said.
The I-Team previously spoke with current and former jail officers who said they believed staff shortages and ongoing faulty locks were part of the factors behind the apparent failure at the jail that led to the escape.
"When I heard how they escaped, how they found out they escaped, and everything that went on, I wasn't surprised because the locks in that facility can be faulty. And it's been told to the superintendent many times," a former jail officer shared. "Safety should be a priority and it was not."
Employees said it was a safety risk for officers as well.
"I used to work in the back in what they call the Horseshoe," a current employee said. "You can go put an inmate in it and you come back 15-20 minutes later and he's standing outside the cell looking at you."
When the I-Team questioned Townsend on what the jail is doing to correct any issues related to staff and the facility, he replied, "I'd rather not say."
He responded to questions related to what the facility is doing to reassure the public by saying, "The public is safe. Thank God no one was hurt."
Jail leaders are now turning their attention to figuring out how to cover the budget shortfall. They floated possibly reprioritizing projects and not filling some staff vacancies to help make the budget work.
Former Jail Superintendent Ernest Tony said he was shocked and saddened to hear about the escape, but he expressed optimism going forward.
"There's so many questions that need to be answered, but I do have faith in the staff. I do have faith in the jail organization to do the right thing to make sure the jail is safe," he said.
One of the inmates who escaped was Alder Marin-Sotelo. He was caught days later in Mexico, but his getaway vehicle was not located until Tuesday.
Investigators said Tuesday that they found the red Ford Mustang in Eagle Pass, Texas, not far from the Mexican border.
Sotelo's sister is in custody accused of buying that Mustang and arranging for someone to leave it parked near the jail so Alder could use it to escape.