Seven Fla. inmates used forged papers in escape attempts, officials say

Joseph Jenkins, left, and Charles Walker.
Joseph Jenkins, left, and Charles Walker.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement

(CBS/AP) TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - At least seven inmates in Florida have used forged documents in attempts to escape from prison, including two killers who were mistakenly freed because of the paperwork and later caught, authorities said Tuesday.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Spokeswoman Gretel Plessinger said so far they have discovered seven prisoners tried to escape with forged documents.

The FDLE held a news conference Tuesday to provide details about the phony paperwork and offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those involved in the operation, reports CBS affiliate WKMG.

FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said they are trying to track how forged documents moved through the system. The documents are reportedly being analyzed for fingerprints and DNA.

Bailey also said during the news conference that two other inmates were in the process of obtaining fraudulent documents.

Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker were let out of a Panhandle prison because of the fake paperwork, which reduced their life sentences to 15 years, authorities said. They were captured Saturday at a Panama City motel. Bailey said they have a number of suspects who may have assisted Jenkins and Walker, reports WKMG.

Their release led the Corrections Department to change its policy for early prisoner releases. It also caused the chief judge in the judicial circuit that covers Orange and Osceola counties in metro Orlando to change how orders are filed in the clerks of courts offices. The forged paperwork that led to the release of Jenkins and Walker was filed in the Orange County Clerk of Courts office.

Chief Circuit Judge Belvin Perry signed an order Monday that prohibits judicial orders from being accepted at drop-off boxes. His order also requires judicial assistants to keep a log of all orders to change an inmate's prison sentence.

When the clerk's office gets an order to change a sentence, the clerk must verify with the judge or judicial assistant that the order was issued, according to the new measures.

Complete coverage of the escaped Fla. murderers on Crimesider