Jefferson County escapee still on run

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 18, 1999

FAYETTE — An inmate from the Jefferson-Franklin Correctional Center was still at large Saturday afternoon, one day after he escaped by pushing through the metal wall of the prison’s gymnasium.

Bennie Blansett, 38, of Marion County, escaped by staying behind in the gym when other prisoners were led back to their cells, then pushing through the wall of the prefabricated metal building.

Blansett, a white male, is 6 feet tall, weighs about 180 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes. At the time of the escape, he was wearing black and white striped pants and a white shirt with &uot;MDOC Inmate&uot;&160;stamped on the back.

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As of Saturday afternoon, law enforcement agencies were still looking for Blansett and had no leads regarding the direction he was heading.

He is not thought to be armed, but a past aggravated assault conviction shows he could be dangerous, said Ken Jones, public information officer for the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Blansett was serving a life sentence for aggravated assault, burglary of a business and two counts of uttering a forgery. He was transferred to the facility Dec. 9 from the Wilkinson County Correctional Center.

Canine units from the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County were called to the scene after a 4 p.m. head count showed Blansett was missing. The dogs were called off the chase late Friday.

Area law enforcement agencies and the Highway Patrol were notified, and a warrant for Blansett’s arrest was posted with the National Crime Information Center.

The portion of the gym through which Blansett escaped was outside the facility’s outer fence.

&uot;It’s a prefabricated metal wall — it’s not impenetrable,&uot;&160;Jones said. &uot;Push on it enough and it can give. It’s not built for permanent use.&uot;

An MDOC investigation will tell what changes the prison should make in the future to prevent another escape, but Jones would not estimate how long that investigation could take.

Glenn Arnold, warden of the Jefferson-Franklin Correctional Center, referred questions to Jones.