GRANTS PASS, Ore.– A foot chase to capture an escaped inmate from the Josephine County Jail ended in the inmate’s arrest over the weekend. On Monday afternoon, the 26-year-old Justin Allen Denney was arraigned in court for new charges.
The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office says Denney managed to escape from the jail by using a man-made hole in a janitors closet. From there, he crawled into the ventilation system and accessed the roof from where he jumped from and made a run for it.
Deputies and officers from Grants Pass Department of Public Safety managed to catch Denney as he was trying to steal a car from a woman in the nearby Walmart parking lot, according to Josephine County District Attorney’s office.
“You just see this one guy on the ground, a couple civilians surrounding him and then a bunch of cops,” said Kayla Guthrie, a witness who had just been shopping at Walmart.
In court Monday through a video chat, Denney was brought forth, surrounded on each side by an officer and in full restraints. A deputy with the jail described Denney’s decision to escape as an act of desperation.
Before breaking out, Denney had a list of 39 charges, 26 of which he was going to court for, and was facing bail of $225,00o. Those charges were for a variety of burglary and theft in the 1st degree which he was jailed for back in January of this year.
As one deputy DA described it in court he tried to escape because, “at this point, desperate given the number of crimes that he is in custody for and his potential lengthy prison sentence based on those crimes.”
However, Denney’s escape highlights a hole in the jail that many weren’t aware of. In a February inspection by a grand jury, the Josephine County jail passed with flying colors saying in part, “the facility is clean, safe and adequate at this time.”
But Sheriff Dave Daniel declined to be interviewed Monday saying only the jail has passed many inspections done by several groups including county commissioners and Oregon State Police.
“I don’t think that the sheriff’s department did anything wrong, I don’t think there was any wrongdoing there,” said Dan DeYoung, Josephine County commissioner. “This guy just got very creative and as we find things wrong we’re going to fix them.”
After his arraignment, Denney received an additional $75,000 to his bail with no release and received three new charges of robbery, escape and a Class C felony of attempting to steal an unauthorized vehicle.
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