Escaping notice

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Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead does have a problem.

His jail is understaffed, and the county budget won't allow for that fact to change.

But parents don't go to the movies when they can't afford a baby-sitter. It's not legal, nor is it ethical.

On Friday, an inmate escaped from the Moffat County Jail and had an hour and a half to make tracks before it was noticed. He had three hours to either get farther or wreak havoc before he was caught.

That's because inmates -- under certain conditions -- are allowed to leave the security of the public safety center and work outside unsupervised.

Every half hour a deputy counts heads while they shovel snow or lay sod.

On Friday, that "every half hour" check was delayed by other circumstances, giving credence to the argument that the facility is understaffed.

But that's no excuse. It's the responsibility of the sheriff's department to oversee its inmates, which means not allowing them privileges that deputies cannot control.

Get someone else to shovel the sidewalks if it cannot be done by well-supervised inmates.

The problem, above the fact than an inmate -- any inmate -- escaped, was that this particular inmate is clearly a threat.

The man who made it to a shed on Colorado Highway 13 has a history of assault and sexual violence -- aimed at children.

Had he chosen to go another direction, he would've been right in the middle of a heavily populated, family-based subdivision.

As it was, his route toward Thompson Hill put him in closer proximity with children than any resident should be comfortable with.

With better planning on an inmate's part, a car could've been waiting on First Street and in an hour and a half, he could've been a state away.

The escape of an inmate is a big issue, and in this case is easily resolved.

Don't let inmates out when you don't have the personnel to supervise them.

It may be a lesson hard-learned, though. On Tuesday, three days after the escape, orange-clad snow shovelers were spotted in front of the public safety center. Nary a deputy was in sight.

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