Jail Danelo Cavalcante escaped from spends millions on enclosing exercise yards to prevent future breakouts

Jail officials have said the upgrades to Chester County Jail will cost between $2.5m and $3.5m

Andrea Blanco
Friday 22 September 2023 07:43 BST
Related video: Moment police pose with escaped killer Danelo Cavalcante after capture

Officials at a Pennsylvania jail have green-lit security upgrades following the escape of a dangerous inmate last month.

Chester County Jail acting warden Howard Holland announced that the project will cost between $2.5m and $3.5m and is expected to be finalised within the next nine months, NBC reports.

The jail board unanimously approved the upgrades after murder convict Danelo Cavalcante’s highly publicised escape in August. One of the priorities is to enclose the exercise yard where the jailbreak took place.

Cavalcante escaped from the detention centre by crab-walking up a wall and pushing through razor wire in order to gain access to the prison’s roof. The unconventional method is exactly the same that was used by another inmate back in May — but during that incident, the inmate was captured within minutes.

Cavalcante’s escape prompted a two-week, multiagency manhunt and drew heavy criticism against the jail’s leadership. Cavalcante was finally arrested on 13 September by a Border Patrol special operations unit.

The jail is expected to install more than 75 new surveillance cameras around its premises. Mr Holland said that he is planning to hire more staff as well and is coordinating to change the inmates’ prison clothes to make them more identifiable in the event of another escape.

Cavalcante escaped from the jail in Pocopson Township at around 8.50am on 31 August. The tower officer who was tasked with surveilling the area where Cavalcante’s block was at the time of the escape did not notify staff and was fired within days of the incident.

The inmate’s absence was only noticed during a head count when his block returned back inside around 9.50am after a basketball game. The jail was then put into lockdown and the 911 centre was notified 10 minutes later.

Law enforcement officers escort Danilo Cavalcante from a Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Avondale, Pa
Law enforcement officers escort Danilo Cavalcante from a Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Avondale, Pa (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

During the 14 days he was on the run, Cavalcante managed to steal a van and travel more than 25 miles. He also visited former associates and stole a .22 rifle.

Pennsylvania State Police announced the capture of Cavalcante on the morning of 13 September. He was caught by a police K-9 named Yoda, who was released onto Cavalcante after he resisted arrest in the wooded area, and clamped onto the man’s head with his teeth.

Cavalcante was taken back into custody, where he told authorities how he managed to survive for two weeks without getting caught, from stealing watermelon from a farm to hiding his faeces to cover up his trail.

He has since been moved to the maximum security State Correctional Institution Phoenix in Montgomery County.

Cavalcante, who has already been convicted of his former girlfriend’s murder, is now facing felony escape over his prison break.

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