Two prisoners from York Correctional in Niantic who escaped from the facility over the weekend have been captured in Hartford after an extensive search. And now, a debate on whether the prison is properly secured is under way.
State police said Melissa Riley and Jessica Rivera were located Sunday night in Hartford, nearly 24 hours after they walked away from the prison.
Riley, 30, and Rivera, 34, were noticed to be missing from York Correctional in Niantic at about 8:15 p.m. Saturday. Staff at the correctional facility said they realized the two were missing as the group they were with was returning from the gym.
Officials said at that time, the facility was locked down and an emergency head count was performed that confirmed that the women were nowhere to be found.
The escape is classified by officials as a walk away since the facility is not entirely fenced in that area. Some parts of the fence are broken, and at some points, there are no enclosures at all.
"That's the first thing I thought of," said Linda Salvemini of Niantic, who lives near the prison. "It's easy for them to walk out of here, because they're down."
The inmates lived in a minimum security part of the facility, according to a Department of Corrections spokesperson.
"Any time offenders walk away from a facility, it's unusual," said warden Stephen Faucher. "It doesn't happen very often, and it's a very serious offense in the Department of Corrections."
Police said around 8 p.m. Sunday the pair was located in Hartford. Both were taken into custody without incident.
The women were transported to the State Police barracks in Montville, where they were processed, charged and brought back to York. They are expected to appear in New London Superior Court Tuesday.
The two were both previously convicted on drug, larceny, robbery and burglary charges and had about three years left on their sentences. However, officials said, more time will likely be added because of the escape.
According to officials, Rivera has escaped from the prison previously.
Residents who live close to the prison are worried about security at the facility.
"You don't know what a person can do or will do," Salvemini said.
Nick Macri said the women being held at the prison could "overpower any of the older ladies" who live in a neighboring apartment complex.
"Some of the people there you can trust, but apparently, you can't trust those two," he said.
East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica discussed the security measures at the prison.
"Those folks … need full enclosure and fully enclosed and closely monitored," he said.
Security issues, including the possibility of putting up a fence, will be brought up at the next meeting between the wardens and the town.
When contacted by Eyewitness News, there was no comment from the Department of Corrections.
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