Four inmates escape from the Federal Correctional Institution in Virginia in latest jail break


Four federal inmates escape from minimum security prison in Virginia: Bureau of Prisons face scrutiny for allowing inmates to simply walk away from its prison camps

  • The jail break happened at the Federal Correctional Complex Petersburg’s satellite camp near Hopewell, Virginia
  • Four inmates were reported missing around 1:45 a.m. during a security check 
  • The inmates were identified as Corey Branch, Travares Lajuane Graham, Lamonte Rashawn Willis, and Kareem Allen
  • The Bureau of Prisons has notified the US Marshals, FBI, along with other law enforcement agencies, and launched an internal investigation
  • BOP has previously faced scrutiny over the last few years for inmate escapes

Four inmates escaped from a federal prison in Virginia Saturday morning in the latest string of jail breaks at Bureau of Prisons facilities, which has been plagued by chronic violence, significant security issues and persistent staffing shortages for years. 

Corey Branch, Travares Lajuane Graham, Lamonte Rashawn Willis, and Kareem Allen were reported missing from the Federal Correctional Complex Petersburg’s satellite camp near Hopewell, Virginia, around 1:45am Saturday during a security check. Officials did not release any details about how the inmates escaped.

All four men are still on the run. 

The Bureau of Prisons immediately notified the US Marshals, FBI, along with other law enforcement agencies, and has launched an internal investigation.

Branch, 41, was sentenced to a 16-month sentence on charges of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and possession of a firearm as a felon

Branch, 41, was sentenced to a 16-month sentence on charges of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and possession of a firearm as a felon

Graham, 44, received an aggregate 120-month sentence for possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and 28 grams or more of cocaine base

Graham, 44, received an aggregate 120-month sentence for possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and 28 grams or more of cocaine base

AP reporter Mike Balsamo said the Bureau of Prisons has notified the US Marshals, FBI, along with other law enforcement agencies, and launched an internal investigation

AP reporter Mike Balsamo said the Bureau of Prisons has notified the US Marshals, FBI, along with other law enforcement agencies, and launched an internal investigation

The four inmates who escaped were in prison for a drug and weapons charges, according to jail records. 

Branch, 41, was sentenced in the Eastern District of Virginia to more than 13 years for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and felon in possession of a firearm. He’s scheduled for release on January 31, 2028.

Willis, 30, was sentenced in the Eastern District of Virginia to 18 years for possessing and concealing a stolen firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He’s scheduled for release on March 20, 2030. 

Shaw, 46, was sentenced in the Western District of Virginia to more than 16 years for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a measurable quantity of heroin.

Graham, 44, was sentenced in the Eastern District of North Carolina to 10 years for possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and 28 grams or more of cocaine base, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He’s scheduled for release on June 25, 2025.

The bureau has previously faced scrutiny over the last few years for inmate escapes, according to the Associated Press. 

At some of the institutions, doors are left unlocked, security cameras are broken and officials sometimes don’t notice an inmate is missing for hours. 

At one Texas lockup, security is so lax that local law enforcement officials privately joke about its seemingly ‘open-door policy.’ 

Willis, 30, was given a 216-month sentence for possession and concealment of a stolen firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon

Willis, 30, was given a 216-month sentence for possession and concealment of a stolen firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon

Shaw, 46, was sentenced to 194 months for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a measurable quantity of heroin

Shaw, 46, was sentenced to 194 months for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a measurable quantity of heroin

The Virginia Federal Correctional Complex in Petersburg, Virginia (FCC Petersburg) is a minimum-security facility near Hopewell that holds 185 male offenders

The Virginia Federal Correctional Complex in Petersburg, Virginia (FCC Petersburg) is a minimum-security facility near Hopewell that holds 185 male offenders

Last summer, the Associated Press report that within 18 months – between 2019 and 2021, 29 prisoners have escaped from federal lockups across the U.S.

All of the escapes happened at minimum-security federal prison camps, some of which don’t even have fences, and house inmates the Bureau of Prisons considers to be the lowest security risk.

‘Anybody can escape from any camp any minute of any day,’ said Jack Donson, a prison consultant and former case manager at a federal prison in Otisville, New York. ‘They’re not secure facilities. They have no fence, no metal detectors.’

The numbers raise serious concerns that the agency long besieged by chronic mismanagement, misconduct and a severe staffing crisis is failing at performing its most basic function: keeping prisoners in prison. 

Federal officials often refer to them as ‘walk-aways,’ though it is still an escape from federal prison under the law and law enforcement officials say there is still a risk to the community when an inmate absconds.

‘These are very small, unsecure facilities,’ said Cameron Lindsay, a retired Bureau of Prisons warden who now testifies as an expert witness on prison matters. 

Because of their size and the generally low risk the inmates pose, federal prison camps often have the lowest levels of staffing in the Bureau of Prisons’ system, sometimes with just one officer working to supervise inmates during a shift, he said. 

The Virginia Federal Correctional Complex in Petersburg, Virginia (FCC Petersburg) is a minimum-security facility near Hopewell that holds 185 male offenders.  

Anyone with information about the four men is encouraged to call the United States Marshals Service at (804) 545-8501. 

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