A COLLECTION OF murderers, car thieves, bank robbers and
rapists cruises through Colorado Springs on Interstate 25, air
conditioning on high and the radio playing.
The van they are in stops at a fast-food restaurant, but they
are not on a crime rampage. Under guard, they are simply getting
dinner and taking a bathroom break.
One by one, they exit from a steel-mesh cage bolted inside the
van. Each is wearing leg irons, waist chains and handcuffs.
Welcome to the world of prisoner transportation.
It's a booming business across the country, as more state and
county jailers try to rein in the cost of transporting inmates.
Every day, unmarked vans with tinted windows, two-way radios
and cellular phones trek across the country on highways through
major cities. Most of the transports are made successfully.
But not always. Traffic crashes have killed guards and inmates
when exhausted drivers pushed themselves too far. And escapes have
occurred when vans broke down or guards fell asleep on duty.
In July, Dennis Patrick Glick, a convicted rapist and
kidnapper, escaped from a private transport company van in
Because of that escape, Colorado sheriffs are pushing for new
state laws to mandate basic safety and training requirements for
private companies doing business in the state. Currently, no such
"We need to do something," said Pueblo County Sheriff Dan
Corsentino, chairman of the Colorado County Sheriff's Association.
Glick was being driven by Federal Extradition Agency Inc. from
a jail in Salt Lake City to Pine Bluffs, Ark. The company is based
in Memphis, Tenn.
When the van stopped at the Crowley County Jail in Ordway,
Colo., 90 miles southeast of Colorado Springs, Glick saw his chance
While still in the van, Glick allegedly grabbed a gun from a
guard who had fallen asleep. Glick then improvised. First he made
hostages out of the guard and seven other inmates in the van. His
next victim was a rancher who was forced to travel with him.
He allegedly stole two vehicles and a horse before leading
about 60 law enforcement officials on an all-night chase across the
Colorado prairie. He was recaptured the next morning while riding
the stolen horse, waving a gun in one hand. Remarkably, no one was
hurt in the episode.
Authorities agree that Glick's case was unusual, but it shows
the potential danger that exists when vans of dangerous criminals
are cruising the highways with other travelers.
Thousands of inmates are being transported on highways every
day, said Jim Cure, founder of Extraditions International Inc. in
Denver. It happens all the time, and most of it is done safely.
Extraditions International, for example, makes about 400
transports a month.
Some inmates have been arrested on a warrant in another city.
Others need to be moved from a jail in one state to a less-crowded
institution elsewhere. Sometimes, inmates are moved after they've
been victimized in a jail.
TransCor America Inc., in Nashville, Tenn., is considered to be
the largest inmate transport company in the country. Its 250
employees use about 100 vans to haul 40,000 prisoners a year.
Federal Extradition Agency Inc. is another major company. Its
director, Mark Burgan, declined comment on his business and
referred questions to the company's attorney, Matt Heider, who did
not return calls. …