Inmate Sues Jail for Injuries from Escape Attempt — Alleges Negligent Security

In the world of jail house law, Scott Anthony Gomez Jr. is a stand out. Convicted of weapons charges, Gomez escapted once from the Pueblo County Jail in Colorado, only to be caught again. In his his attempt, he fell from an 85 foot height, seriously injuring himself. He argues in his federal filing that, if the jail was better secured, he would not have attempt such an act.

The Pueblo County Jail was amazingly lax about security, that much is clear. Gomez escaped two years ago by simply pushing up some ceiling tiles and escaping through the ventilation system. He was caught two days later. On this attempt, however, he had a rope. On the second attempt, on Jan. 10, 2007, Gomez and his fellow inmate left their maximum-security cells and opened a ceiling tile in the shower. They climbed through the hole and found a shaft that led to the roof.When Gomez tried to descend on a makeshift ladder of bedsheets and mattress covers, he fell 40 feet, seriously injuring himself.he again pushed up the ceiling tile (they appear a bit slow on the uptake at Pueblo County Jail) and made it to the roof. This time he tried to use bedsheets but fell during his descent and suffered serious injuries.He complains in this filing that “Defendants . . . did next to nothing to ensure that the jail was secure and the plaintiff could not escape.” He also alleges abuse by the guards.Built in 1978, the five-story jail is something of a joke, including had weaknesses, including a door-locking system in which prisoners can pop open their own cells.

It seems like the Pueblo County Jail comes close to the jails often described by singing hobos in the Big Rock Candy Mountain:

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains the jails are made of tinAnd you can walk right out again as soon as you are inThere ain’t no short handled shovels, no axes saws or picksI’m a goin to stay where you sleep all dayWhere they hung the jerk that invented workIn the Big Rock Candy Mountains

Of course the poor security did not stop officials from overcrowding the jail. Designed to hold 189, it now holds 300. They are trying to improve security with a $1.2 million construction plan.What is interesting is that the claim is akin to an attractive nuisance theory in tort. Children trespassers can recover in some circumstances when a landowners creates a dangerous condition that he knew or should have known would attract children in the area — a risk that minors would not appreciate or avoid. Gomez seems to be arguing a type of penal attractive nuisance. Not much hope there.

Gomez has a lawyer but it is not clear whether his filing was done with legal assistance.

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