Report: Escape of Wyatt inmate ‘easily preventable’

Spot where Morales made his escape (Photo: Central Falls Police)

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — A report on the New Year’s Eve prison break at the Wyatt Detention Center was released Friday and it called the escape “easily preventable, inexcusable, and directly related to a series of human errors” within the facility.

James Morales broke out of the Central Falls jail on New Year’s Eve. The incident triggered a multi-state manhunt that lasted until Morales was captured five days later in Somerville, Mass.

The report says Wyatt has taken full responsibility for Morales’ escape.

According to police, it took five hours for corrections officers to notice the detainee was missing on the night in question.

The report found there were several deficiencies in the policies and procedures at Wyatt, many of which were found in the recreation yard where Morales made his escape. The report recommends the facility remove the basketball hoops and add further metal detection, monitoring, and security features outside.

Many nearby residents expressed concern when they weren’t notified of the escape. That’s because, according to the report, Wyatt doesn’t have an emergency alert system and isn’t in a financial position to purchase one.

Another finding indicated by the report was that the facility was fully staffed the night of Morales’ escape. Investigators determined that certain staff members fell short of their responsibility to keep the public safe at all times.

Officials said three of the employees remain on paid leave while a fourth has since resigned. The report stated there isn’t any evidence that those employees’ actions were committed with any criminal intent.

The Board of Directors met Monday night to discuss what actions to take.

“We’re comfortable that we understand everything that happened,” said Chairman Luke Gallant. “We’re comfortable that we know the timeline of exactly when everything happened and I’m confident that we’ll be able to answer all of the public’s questions.”

Eyewitness News has learned that a “corrective action plan’ is being developed as the investigation of the incident continues.

Going forward, the facility wants to invest more than $500,000 in bolstering security and control. The warden has also submitted a request to the National Institute of Corrections to get an additional, independent review of Wyatt’s operating procedures.