A manhunt is underway in Florida after the Department of Corrections released two convicted murderers based on what the state says were fraudulent documents. The inmates are Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins, both convicted of murders in the Orlando area, and both men were serving lengthy sentences at Franklin Correctional Institution in Carrabelle, south of Tallahassee.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that release documents for both inmates carried forged signatures of Orange County Circuit Judge Belvin Perry, the chief judge of the circuit. Those documents were processed through the Orange County clerk of court and submitted to prison officials in Tallahassee. Jenkins was released Sept. 27 and Walker was released Oct. 8, the newspaper reports, but it wasn't until Tuesday that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was notified.
The Department of Corrections has posted "alerts" on its web site and the large banner "escape notice" next to both inmates' biographies.
Corrections Secretary Mike Crews issued a statement Thursday that said in part: "Walker and Jenkins were both released in accordance with Department of Corrections policy and procedure; however, their releases were based on fraudulent modifications that had been made to the court orders that determines their length of sentence."
Crews said the prison system is also "conducting a vigorous and thorough review of releases that were based on modified court orders received from Orange County to ensure that there are no other inmates who have been released based on falsified documents. The top priority of the Department is the safety of Florida families and we’ll continue working with law enforcement to ensure these men are returned to custody.”
-- Steve Bousquet