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As authorities search for escaped inmate, new jail plans to improve security

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Perion Carreon
Perion Carreon
ferris center

MADISON (WKOW) -- Right now, deputies in Dane County are still searching for an inmate who escaped from a jail facility Friday evening.

Officials say Perion Carreon, 18, ran away from the Ferris Center, where he was serving a work release sentence for stealing a van and escaping an officer with several other teenagers.

It's a minimum security jail facility, where inmates can leave for work, school or appointments, with approval from authorities. But they cannot come and go as they please.

"Being on Huber is a privilege. It's not a right. It's a privilege. And when you violate that privilege, we take it very serious and so do the courts," said Sheriff Dave Mahoney.

In this case, the sheriff says Carreon will be charged with a felony when he's eventually arrested.

Five inmates were declared AWOL for escaping or not returning to the jail in 2019. The year before there were four, but officials say all but one of them were eventually arrested.

Eighty percent of inmates sentenced to Dane County Jail have work release privileges, according to the sheriff, and for the most part it works well. Many are also put on home electronic monitoring programs with no issues.

But soon, Dane County will only have one jail facility, which could tighten up security for inmates on work release. Last summer, the county board approved plans to upgrade the Public Safety building downtown.

"They won't be able to run out the door, but we still may have individuals who go out and exercise their right to be on Huber and either come back late or don't come back," Sheriff Mahoney said. "In those cases, when they don't come back, we issue a warrant for escape. And we treat it just the same as somebody who runs out the door."

Sheriff Mahoney says a new jail is long overdue, to eliminate the Ferris Center and an aging City County Building jail where safety issues have been ongoing.

The sheriff believes it will ultimately improve conditions for inmates. For the first time, Dane County will have medical beds where staff can treat inmates without putting them in solitary confinement for care. Plus, authorities are planning programming to treat people with addiction or mental health issues.

"It will be state of the art," he said. "It will allow us to house individuals in a humane fashion and it will also allow us, for the first time, to begin programming to address the reasons people come into the criminal justice system in the first place."

The county plans to start construction on the new jail next year. Click here for the latest designs and plans.

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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