A correctional officer on horseback apparently violated state prison policy when he allowed an inmate on a work detail to approach him, an official said Tuesday, a lapse that possibly led to another mounted officer's death during an escape attempt. ...UPDATE: Thanks to a commenter for pointing out that TexasJustice.org has more, including details on funeral arrangements, this clarification of the offenders' status, and a list of officers on duty at the time of Officer Canfield's murder. MORE: One of the captured escapees tried unsuccessfully to kill himself early this morning. MORE: Escapees may face death penalty.
Canfield's death has raised serious questions about which inmates should be allowed to work outside a prison as well as how they should be monitored.
Both inmates had been convicted of violent crimes, yet both qualified for outside work. Inmates may be considered for outside work only if they have served at least 10 years — a mark that Martin passed only last month — and have a clean disciplinary record.
While Martin's record was clean enough for field work, it was not a spotless one.
On July 17, he was relocated to Wynne from the Polunsky Unit in Livingston after it was discovered he engaged in sexual behavior with a licensed vocational nurse at the unit.
"It's a pending investigation," said John Moriarty, TDCJ's inspector general, who added that the nurse no longer works for the prison system. No charges had been filed against the nurse as of Tuesday.
As a result of the incident, the prison system revoked 30 days of good time accrued by Martin. Good time is a credit inmates earn for good behavior.
Despite the loss of good time, he was approved for field work because the sexual encounter did not affect his eligibility for outside duties.
The way inmates are considered for jobs at state prisons was changed in 2003, following the escape of seven Texas inmates from a South Texas prison.
Previously, inmates who showed they had adjusted to prison life by serving their time without incident or incurring disciplinary actions, no matter how long they had been in prison, could qualify. Now, they must serve at least 10 years.
RELATED: Three inmates from the Nacogdoches County jail escaped yesterday, and unlike the escapees at the Wynne Unit they've not yet been captured. Apparently a door at the jail was left unlocked by inspectors, said the Sheriff, and an electronic indicator failed to alert guards when the inmates left. MORE: The Nacogdoches Sheriff has called off the dogs, reports the Daily Sentinel, which has more on the lock problems that led to the escape. AND MORE: A Nacogdoches jailer was arrested for helping the inmates' escape. MORE: A brother of the Nacogdoches jailer was also arrested. Two of the three have been recaptured.