Americus officer beaten, inmate escapes - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Americus officer beaten, inmate escapes

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January 7, 2004

Americus-- An Americus jailer is recovering from an attack by an inmate. Sheriff Robert Ingle says, "Physically she is in pretty good shape, mentally, she was pretty well shook up." The Sheriff blames a shrinking staff for the incident.

The female booking officer at the Sumter County Jail was beaten and held hostage by a teenage inmate. 17-year-old Leon Sims escaped from the jail, but was captured by deputies a couple hours later.

The Sheriff says this should never have happened and is a wake-up call for county leaders. 17-year-old Leon Sims is back behind bars. But Saturday, Sims overpowered the only booking officer on duty that morning, and escaped from the Sumter County Jail. Sheriff Ingle says, "Had we been full staff, we would have had 2 people in booking at all times and my estimate is 99.9% that event wouldn't have happened."

Sheriff Robert Ingle says a 2002 staffing study recommended a minimum of 110 employees for his office. Since then budget cuts have reduced his staff by more than 15 percent, "I feel the county administrators are shirking their responsibility knowing the libelous situation that we are in."

Sheriff Ingle has sued the county before for not providing the money he needs to run his jail. He says he might have to go to court again, "I'm not ruling that out. If it becomes a necessity then I would do that again."

Ingle says he needs more staff to prevent incidents like Saturday's from happening--and is looking to county leaders for the answer.

County Administrator Lynn Taylor says a judge ruled in 2002 that the county was providing adequate funding for the Sheriff's office. Sheriff Ingle says from now on a supervising officer will be present during the booking process.

Posted at 3:36 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com