Fire safety concerns have prompted the installation of new “quick release” locks on the cell doors of the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas.
“We need a system that allows inmates to quickly evacuate the prison premises in case of fire,” said prison warden Jeremy MacMillan. “To that effect, we are installing quick release latches on the cell doors, which would make it possible for prisoners to exit their cells and run out to safety in case a fire breaks out.”
Mr. MacMillan, a former inmate at the same facility himself, is intimately familiar with the premises.
“The Leavenworth facility is poorly designed,” he lamented. “It’s very difficult to get out of it. As someone who has tried to escape from it multiple times, I take it very personally to help improve the layout and safety features of the place.”
Mr. MacMillan’s genuine concern for the wellbeing of the prisoners is very personal, as he had become good friends with many of them when he served time for armed burglary and premeditated murder a decade earlier.
“Yes, I know Jack ‘Strangler’ Kelly and Bugs Falconetti very well,” MacMillan shared. “Back in the day, I remember planning with them the beating of that new kid, Tony Tinny, who thought he didn’t have to play by the rules.”
“Jack and I still hang out together sometimes,” smiled MacMillan melancholically. “I help him get cigarettes, belts, what have you.”
“Jack’s big into belts,” he added.
The new locks will be installed sometime in the next decade.
“Many of the inmates here today will still be here at that time to take advantage of the enhanced safety,” said MacMillan. “Except, perhaps, Thornton James, who’ll be turning 92 next week. And maybe Clyde Pinkerton,” he added, “who, I heard, will be murdered.”
Such is prison life.
To all who have praised MacMillan’s initiative, he humbly says: “I’m glad to be of help.”
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