$700K spent on prison vans after inmate escape

NMDC transport van

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Corrections officials say New Mexico has spent $700,000 on new vehicles and equipment since the March escape of two violent inmates prompted a review of the state’s prisoner transport vans.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request show officials removed door handles and power locks from the rear area of roughly a dozen Corrections Department vans in the weeks after state police say inmates Joseph Cruz and Lionel Clah fled the van. Their escape came around the time guards stopped for gas in Artesia.

The move for increased security measures during transport raises questions about security prior to the escape within the vehicles, which the state used for years to transport violent felons.

Cruz and Clah, who fled to Albuquerque, were taken into custody separately days after the escape.

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