Local authorities are working with other jurisdictions in searching for a Faulkner County Detention Center inmate who "walked away" from work crew detail at the Conway Sanitation Department.
Jake Steven Rackley, 23, of Jacksonville, was reported to be wearing a blue and white work crew uniform when he feigned stomach problems and left the sanitation department building he was working in. When sanitation staff supervising the workers went to check on him, he was gone. An updated suspect description released after the incident indicated that he may have been seen on foot near Highway 64 wearing a blue jacket with silver lettering.
According to information from Faulkner County District Court, Rackley had failed several times to pay district court fines/costs relating to a 2007 theft of property conviction.
On Feb. 12 he was again found to have failed to pay fines/costs, and ordered to be held at the detention center and assigned to work crew detail until the fine/cost balance of $1,365 was paid down.
Inmates assigned to work crew detail accumulate the $40 jail credit fee — as do all prisoners — as well as the $60 per day worked at the Sanitation Department. When their outstanding balance is paid off, they are released.
District Court records show that Rackley had reduced his outstanding balance to $725 when he escaped.
Capt. John Randall of the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday afternoon that Rackley had been held for 11 days when he walked away from work detail, and though he couldn’t say for sure why he decided to escape, thereby creating for himself a felony escape warrant, said that FCSO investigators had found reason to believe that Rackley had made arrangements prior to his arrest to marry the mother of his 4-month-old child on Tuesday.
As Rackley has several known ties to Jacksonville and no known ties to Faulkner County, Randall said FCSO deputies and detention officers were working with authorities there to locate him.
Randall added that sanitation department administrators failed to notify officials for more than 30 minutes after Rackley fled.
Inmates are approved for work crew detail by the judge whom imposes their sentence, Randall said. The sanitation department assumes the responsibility of both transporting them to and from the detention center to the sanitation department site and supervising them while they are working.
"In the past, we’ve had people walk away from the Sanitation Department," Randall said. "Keep in mind, at the department, they are there to help them and are not trained to keep them there.
"We’re lucky we don’t have more than this," he continued. "There’s no law supervision to monitor the inmates. We don’t have the means or money to have an officer go out there every single day to monitor these inmates while working at the Sanitation Department."
As of now, the work crew detail program has been terminated by Randall.
"I’ve terminated this program until I can talk with Maj. Bobby Brown and the sheriff to come up with a solution to this problem," Randall said. "The more people that walk off, the more we’ll have to use the patrol division and Conway PD to search for them. As of now, it’s terminated. I’m not for sure how long it will be terminated, but it has been now."
In an e-mail, Cheryl Harrington, director of the Conway Sanitation Department, said that Rackley, within a few minutes of working, notified staff that he needed to go to the restroom, citing a stomach issue.
"Shortly thereafter, another employee saw the inmate on the outside of the building and called the supervisor to question if they knew an inmate was outside," Harrington stated in her e-mail. "The supervisor and manager then went outside to look and to verify that he was still at the facility. When they could not visibly see the inmate, they drove around the grounds looking for him, which was just a short time period after notification. When it was apparent that he was no longer at the facility, they immediately contacted the detention center."
Harrington stated she did not believe there was a 30-minute time span prior to notification, as Randall stated, and she said if there was 30 minutes between the escape and FCSO notification, much of the time elapsed while sanitation department staff were verifying that the inmate was missing.
"This was not a case in which we had an inmate run, it was a case in which an inmate said he was sick and we were giving him time to recoup," Harrington said.
(Staff writer Joe Lamb contributed to this story. Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)