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Warden fires guard, saying she forgot to relock cell

Published March 6, 2007


BROOKSVILLE - Last week, an inmate at the Hernando County Jail walked through an unlocked cell door, sauntered out to the garage and escaped through a field - the third escape in just over a year.

In response, the jail sent another person out the door: Lt. Mary Mills, the guard who, officials say, was responsible for the security error.

"Allowing an inmate to escape was the cause for the termination," jail Warden Don Stewart said on Monday.

He said Mills unlocked the door to the cell where Kenneth Farris was being held and then forgot to lock it again.

That mistake allowed Farris to walk free. He was captured a few hours later in a Brooksville motel.

The jail's official report is not completed. And the Hernando Sheriff's Office also has not completed its investigation of the escape.

Mills joined Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that runs the jail, in January 2002. She was making $17.42 an hour at the time she was fired.

In July, Mills was suspended for three days for prematurely releasing an inmate. At the time, she failed to review the inmate's file correctly and allowed him to leave two months early.

Her personnel file was not available for review on Monday.

[Last modified March 6, 2007, 07:50:22]

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