Just over 48 hours after his escape, law enforcement personnel had taken escaped inmate Kenneth Jason Franklin back into custody.
Franklin escaped on Wednesday, June 4, while attending an evening worship service with seven other inmates. Sometime during that service, Franklin asked the facilitator if he could go to the restroom. The facilitator granted Franklin permission. It’s at that point Sheriff Clint Shrum believes Franklin exited the door into the recreation yard, proceeded to the north side of the yard, and escaped by going under the fence.
While there were no correctional officers in the immediate area where the service was taking place, both the facilitator and correctional officers have access to radios where they can maintain communication. Additionally, the facilitator had gone through the standard 4-hour inmate familiarization course required to run such service.
Sheriff Clint Shrum said, “The correctional officer on duty that night had to go back through the building, lock some doors, and take them to the restroom before he was able to get to the area. There was never any contact made from the facilitator to the correctional officer regarding Franklin going to the restroom. Franklin had planned this escaped and he knew exactly what to do, when to do it and where to go.”
Shrum believes Franklin was picked up by an accomplice near Norhtcutt’s Cove Road. After two days of searching, an off-duty Marion County correctional officer discovered Franklin passed out in a ditch near the Nickajack Dam. Franklin was inebriated and wearing bags on his feet in an attempt to cover up his tracks. Marion County deputies took Franklin into custody and contacted the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office.
“Franklin is now facing felony escape charges,” explained Sheriff Shrum. In addition to those charges, those who facilitated his escape will also be charged (a Class D felony).
“This is an incident where policy did not fail, people did,” stated Sheriff Shrum. “There was a lack of communication and the correctional officer was not in the right places when he was supposed to be. We will use this as a learning experience on what not to do in the future.”
The Sheriff’s Office has already made some revisions to the visitation and worship service schedule. The correctional officer is under a course of disciplinary action and the fence issue is being corrected.