Authorities say missing inmate planned escape by phone

Authorities say missing inmate planned escape by phone

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (WFIE) - The search continues for a man who ran away from a community service program provided through a western Kentucky jail and authorities say the inmate planned the escape.

Kentucky State Police and other agencies are looking for 26-year-old Bennie Britt Junior. He was a state inmate who was being held at the Hopkins County Jail for drug and weapons charges.

Hopkins County Jailer Mike Lewis says authorities have been reviewing phone calls and other messages reportedly made recently by Britt and also say Britt did not work alone.

“He had contacted a female and had her help in getting him,” Jailer Mike Lewis explained. “They were working on it last night and somebody drove down and parked very close to his work site.”

The 26-year-old man from Louisville has been in the Hopkins County Jail for more than 230 days Jailer Lewis says. During that time, we’re learning he has had very few infractions.

“To us, he was a prime person to get the opportunity to be involved in that program,” Lewis explained.

Britt was working a recycling job through the Madisonville Sanitation Department when authorities say he ran off shortly after noon on Tuesday.

“They work on the line pulling recyclables from the lines and throwing them into the appropriate containers,” Lewis stated.

Lewis says Britt had worked in the community service program before to earn time off his sentence but was given a violation. After the behavior was corrected, Britt was given a second chance. He had been back to work for about a month, but on the second day of this job, they say he ran off.

Bennie Britt Jr. (Source: KSP)
Bennie Britt Jr. (Source: KSP) (Source: Kentucky State Police)

“These aren’t people who are serving 20 and 30-year sentences,” Lewis told 14 News. “These are people who are serving one, two, three or sometimes five-year sentences.”

Level one and two inmates, classified by the Department of Corrections, can be supervised by civilians. This group includes about 20 Hopkins County inmates on a daily basis.

Britt was a level one with charges such as possession of a handgun by a convicted felon and drug possession who was living among than 400 other inmates.

“There’s 35 phones in the facility, so you’d have to have 35 people listening to 35 active lines almost 24 hours a day,” Lewis stated when asked about jail staffing.

A walk away escape charge is a class D felony with a punishment of one to five years, but that’s not all. Jailer Lewis also says if an inmate ever gets an escape charge, the DOC will never classify them as a level one or two again, which means the inmate will never be trusted to work outside of the secured jail again.

Britt was last seen wearing his jail-issued khaki shirt and pants.

If you have any information on his whereabouts, you are asked to contact the Kentucky State Police Post 2 at 270-676-3313.

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