Prison Officials Say Human Error Played Role in Pennsylvania Escape

Before Danelo Cavalcante crab-walked his way up and out of the Chester County Prison, launching a sprawling manhunt in the wooded suburbs outside Philadelphia, a man named Igor Bolte escaped from the same jail. Twice.

The first time was in July 2019, when Mr. Bolte, who was serving a sentence for aggravated assault, walked out of a work-release center at the jail, “scaled a security fence and fled, on foot,” according to an affidavit. He was found early the next morning about a mile and a half from the jail.

This past May, Mr. Bolte, now 30 and held on a probation violation, got out again, climbing up the walls by the exercise yard — he later told a police detective that he “was a rock climber”— and then running across the roof and dropping down by the visitor’s entrance. He was caught within minutes.

With Mr. Cavalcante eluding authorities for more than a week now, scrutiny has turned to the jailbreaks at Chester County Prison. The key failing in last week’s escape was that an officer in the tower, charged with watching over the inmates in the exercise yard, did not appear to notice Mr. Cavalcante, said Howard Holland, the acting warden overseeing the jail, in a news conference on Wednesday.

Unlike in May, when a tower officer saw Mr. Bolte and alerted the jail’s staff, Mr. Cavalcante was discovered to be missing only when officers conducted a count in his cellblock nearly an hour later. And the installation of additional razor wire that followed Mr. Bolte’s escape in May proved insufficient to contain Mr. Cavalcante.

“The one thing we didn’t take into account was a failure on the human element side,” Mr. Holland said. “We only focused on the physical infrastructure.”

In a country full of jails and prisons,

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