Cost of Inmate Escape for Taxpayers

By: Elizabeth Lamb Email
By: Elizabeth Lamb Email

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va ---- Two inmates, who escaped from a work-release program in Augusta County, are behind bars, but at the expense of taxpayers.

The Sheriff's Office said it cost them tens of thousands of dollars to have deputies on the scene to catch the inmates. Virginia State Police sent over a helicopter and several K-9 units. That added to the expense to get the two back into custody of the police.

These two inmates, Joshua Ansell and Shawn Barb, left a work release site Wednesday only to be captured hours later by deputies on scene. The two men walked off a work site near the Augusta County Landfill. They escaped for about seven hours before police caught them.

Sgt. Mike Rossetti said having more than 60 people on the scene helped in the search.

“Teamwork is very essential working in law enforcement,” said Sgt. Rossetti. “There are other agencies that can provide different types of resources. Pertaining to the incident yesterday, it was very successful that the two individuals were located.”

Their capture comes at a cost, Staunton Police and Virginia State Police had nearly a dozen people each on scene and the sheriff's office had nearly 40 people.

“It's taxpayer dollars. It's taxpayer resources. The vehicles, the gas, the helicopters, the salaries,” said Sheriff Randy Fisher with the Augusta County Sheriff's Office.

Department of Corrections Spokesperson Larry Traylor said cases like this do not happen often. Only low-security and low-risk people take part in the work release program.

Now, Ansell and Bard could face harsh penalties for walking away.

“If you think about it, the only people they've really hurt in this instance is themselves,” said Traylor. “They were given the opportunity to work while incarcerated and now they've done this.”

A judge could reimpose their former sentences. This time, that could cost the two escaped inmates to serve more time. Sheriff Fisher said safety is a top priority in the Valley.

“All the law enforcement agencies involved, they're very dedicated people,” said Sheriff Fisher. “They're going to come out, and they're going to do everything they can to keep the community safe.”

The escape is now under investigation.

Any changes made to the work-release program would happen after more information comes from that investigation.

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