Monday, April 23, 2007

Order your own release from prison

America is the land of the free, they say, and this proved true, if only for a couple of weeks, for young Timothy Rouse who had himself released from the Kentucky Correctional and Psychiatric Center in La Grange near Louisville where he was held pending assessment after having been charged with assault and robbery. Outsmarting his captors he had somebody send a fax to the prison from a local store, ordering his release. The fax claimed to have been issued from the supreme court, although it featured no letter head and was riddled with spelling mistakes. However, nobody picked up on the hoax, and Rouse was duly released. Probably slightly over-confident with his success and lucky escape he stayed at his mother's, where he was re-arrested two weeks later.
The story was reported both by the Seattle Times and the BBC. The Seattle Times quotes Fulton County Attorney Rick Major as saying "It's outrageous that it happened. I'm just glad nobody got hurt, because he's dangerous." But for a change, the BBC was more complete in its reporting and also quoted the prison's director, Greg Taylor, whose shoulder-shrugging response was probably too embarrassing for the Seattle Times. Checking the origin of documents was not part of the prison's routine check procedure, he explained, and as for spelling mistakes, they were quite common in court documents. Not surprising, I guess, seeing the supreme commander of the United States, George Bush, is not exactly leading by example when it comes to literacy.

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