ONLY ON KOLD NEWS 13: Prisoners using public transportation - Tucson News Now

ONLY ON KOLD NEWS 13: Prisoners using public transportation

Over the last three years, the Federal Bureau of Prisons admits it transferred 90 thousand inmates unescorted on commercial buses, taxis and planes. Meaning no handcuffs, no guard, no supervision. And passengers had no warning.

"That makes me very nervous to even have my purse on the bus with me," said Greyhound rider Misty Kain.

Call the inmate Passenger "X," one of the 90,000 prisoners in the seat next you.

"You don't know who's sitting next to you or who's behind you," Kain said. "You don't know what could happen to you. You never know what's going through someone's head."

While a majority of the inmates are being transferred to halfway houses and are close to their release date, there is also a smaller percentage, still thousands each year, who are transferred on "good faith" to minimum security facilities.

The Bureau of Prisons says this is a "safe, secure, humane and cost efficient" way to get them from facility to facility.

But for first time mom, India, she doesn't see it as safe or secure.

"I'm already scared that I'm alone and then to know that somebody that's been in prison is being transported on the bus and it could be anybody. That scares me more," she said.

Retired corrections officer Artie Linquito says although it may be saving money, we are paying for it a false sense of security.

"I think putting private citizens in danger just to save a buck is ridiculous," Linquito said.

With 20 years on the job, he's seen a lot over the years.

"We had a guy try to take over the van, he's shackled. See when we transported they were waist shackled, but we still had a guy try to grab another officer's gun while he was shackled. Now these guys aren't shackled with no security. Anything could happen," he said.

Greyhound denies knowing when prisoners are being transported on its buses and says it would never knowingly transport anyone who is still serving a sentence.

The American Bus Association isn't too thrilled either.

It fired off a letter to the Bureau of Prisons in 2009 saying, "it is unfathomable that your agency would engage in such a practice at all," and asked them to stop immediately.

Three years later, it's still going on, leaving some to wonder what's keeping these inmates from walking off the bus, and off the grid like Dwayne Fitzen, a convicted coke dealer scheduled to go from Minnesota to California in 2004.

He hopped off a bus in Las Vegas and hasn't been heard from since.

Or Alvin Lewis.  This counterfeiter was a no-show in California after leaving his prison camp in Memphis.

He's still M.I.A. nearly a decade later.

"They have prison transportation buses for a reason and that's what they should be using to take them to other facilities," Misty Kain said.

The Bureau of Prisons says less than 1 percent of inmates who are given these one-way tickets don't show up where they're supposed to.

According to data from 2011, of the nearly 32 thousand inmates transferred unsupervised last year, 83 simply walked off the bus never to be seen again.

"So these guys just disappear. Unless you know exactly who he is, where his relatives live at to track them down, these guys are gone," said Artie Linquito

Prisoners are warned that any attempt to escape will result in additional time on their sentence, but of course that's only if they get caught.

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