CCA employed guards where accused cop shooter escaped

Thursday, July 2, 2009 at 12:26pm

Prison guards who were overseeing Joseph Jackson in Greenwood, Miss., before he escaped from custody during an eye doctor appointment last week, are employed by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America.

Jackson allegedly was aided in his escape by Courtney Logan, who arrived armed at the optometrist office at the time of Jackson’s appointment. During the escape, Jackson and Logan allegedly acquired one of the escorting prison guards’ handguns.

“The Mississippi Department of Corrections is currently investigating and we will release information when it is available,” Department of Corrections spokesman Kent Crocker said.

Investigators are trying to figure out how Logan knew when Jackson would be at his eye doctor’s appointment, along with the circumstances surrounding the breakout.

Jackson was serving a life sentence for aggravated assault and robbery at the Delta Correctional facility, which is operated by CCA.

Delta Correctional public information officer Carolyn McAdams told the Greenwood Commonwealth  that Jackson complained of having an “eye problem” two weeks before his June 25 appointment. According to the report, McAdams said such medical appointments are confidential.

After they fled, the fugitives made it all the way to Nashville in a rented car, before being pulled over on Interstate 40 near Bellevue for a seatbelt violation by Metro Police Sgt. Mark Chesnut.

During that stop, Jackson allegedly shot Chesnut at close range. The officer has been in the care of Vanderbilt University Medical Center since June 25. On Thursday, Chesnut still was listed in critical but stable condition following a series of surgeries to treat wounds to his abdomen and shoulder.

Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas said he has been tracking the investigations in Greenwood, Miss., where the escape took place. Local police there are searching for a possible second accomplice, according to media reports.

Metro Police are continuing to investigate the incident as well. Logan and Jackson were apprehended by police shortly after the alleged shooting.

“We also know that there are investigations that are continuing in Greenwood Mississippi, and we hope and pray that those investigations are moving as forward as we are here with as much work,” Serpas said.

CCA said through a spokesman Thursday that it is fully cooperating with the various law enforcement investigtions.

"At this point we have not communicated any suspicions of any sort," said Steve Owen, CCA spokesman. "If we identify something to take action or to correct a procedure, we'll take the appropriate action."

Metro Police have not yet released what type of gun was used to shoot Chesnut.

Jackson and Logan are facing attempted murder, and other charges. Their preliminary hearing is scheduled to take place July 14.

On its Web site, CCA indicates it operates two other correctional facilities besides Delta Correctional in Mississippi.