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Conley, Banks escape from MCC on '2012 Warden of the Year' watch

December 19, 2012 8:27:14 AM PST
In October 1985, a pair of convicted killers escaped from the Metropolitan Correctional Center by rappelling down the side of the building, just as Kenneth Conley and Joseph ''Jose'' Banks did.

The convicted bank robbers escaped sometime between 10 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m. Tuesday. A rope made of bed sheets, blankets and towels was spotted hanging from their cell window. They dropped 15 stories down.

In 1985, Bernard Welch and Hugh Colomb used an electrical cord to escape from a small 6th floor window after knocking it out with a barbell weight, a trick also used during a 1982 jailbreak. Welch and Colomb made their escape during a teeming rainstorm. They were on the run for months.

The most embarrassing part for the feds, before they broke out, Welch and Colomb were informants for authorities- supplying information about other escape plots at prisons across the country.

Fast forward 27 years: Conley and Banks are discovered missing. They also had chiseled a larger hole out of their window. They used their bed sheets to gain freedom by rappelling down the side of the building.

It's apparent Conley and Banks' escapes took planning, but did they have help? In 1985, several other inmates were charged with aiding Welch and Colomb plot their escape.

To add to the embarrassment around this escape, MCC warden Catherine Linaweaver was recently named Warden of the Year 2012 by the North American Association of Wardens and Superintendents. According to a newsletter by the North American Association of Wardens and Superintendents, Linaweaver "believes you never stop learning."

Tuesday's lesson may just be that history repeats itself. Warden Linaweaver, who also advertises herself as a horse trainer, did not answer a request for comment.

Recently, Linaweaver had raised MCC's Loop location as a security concern when a top Mexican drug lord was housed at the facility. He wanted to exercise on the roof of the building, but the warden said he would be an "easy target" because "attacks could be staged" from nearby high-rises. He ended up being moved to another facility.


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