US & Canada

Six Florida prisoners tried to escape with fake papers

October 2013 Prison booking photos of Joseph Jenkins (left) and Charles Walker (right)
Image caption Joseph Jenkins (left) and Charles Walker (right) may have been on their way to Atlanta

At least six Florida prisoners have tried to escape using forged release documents, officials say, including two murderers who were successful.

Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker were freed on 27 September and 8 October respectively with bogus papers reducing their life sentences to 15 years.

They were captured on Saturday at a motel in Panama City, Florida. Police are investigating if they had help.

The mistake has led Florida to change its policy for early prisoner releases.

Police said they were looking at several suspects who may have aided Jenkins and Walker, but have made no arrests.

Florida law enforcement commissioner Gerald Bailey said the recaptured prisoners were not helping the investigation.

"They've lawyered up," Mr Bailey said. "Should they choose to co-operate, we will have the answers we need. The answers we demand sooner than later."

Police said someone was coming to the motel to take Jenkins and Walker to Atlanta in the neighbouring state of Georgia.

Investigators were also reviewing a tablet computer and mobile phone found at the motel for evidence.

Mr Bailey said there was no indication so far that anyone in the corrections department helped the two convicted killers with their escape, but investigators were still looking at any possibilities.

Jenkins was released from a prison in the north of the state on 27 September after a clerk's office processed paperwork with a judge's forged signature.

Walker was let out of the same prison on 8 October. Both men registered as felons with a local jail several days after their release - a requirement for former prisoners re-entering society.

Mr Bailey said Jenkins had tried to escape using bogus documents before.

Chief Circuit Judge Belvin Perry, whose signature was faked to released the men, signed an order on Monday that prohibits judicial orders from being accepted at drop-off boxes, and requires assistants to keep of a record of all orders that would change a prison sentence.

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