WILKES-BARRE—Officials with the Luzerne County Correctional Facility said it was 11 a.m. Thursday when it happened: Kevin Kuklinski Junior jumped a 10 to 12-foot fence and escaped.
Kuklinski was an inmate at the County Minimal Offenders Building in Wilkes-Barre, accused of burglary and other non-violent charges.
Officials said two correctional officers were outside when it happened, but could not catch Kuklinski. They also said there were about 40 to 60 other inmates at the yard at the time.
“I think they need to re-evaluate their security, really, you know?” said Gloria Giles of Wilkes-Barre.
After the escape, local and state authorities joined in the search, using a police dog and even a boat to search the Susquehanna River.
Some places, including the Catholic Youth Center in Wilkes-Barre went on lockdown as a precaution.
According to the head of Luzerne County Correctional Services, Kuklinski belonged at the minimal offenders building, not the main jail.
“He met all our criteria to go there. He had not been a problem for us at all,” said J. Allen Nesbitt.
In June, Luis Feliciano jumped the fence at the minimal offenders building, too. He was free for days before authorities said he was arrested in Wilkes-Bare.
Now Feliciano being held at the main jail in Luzerne County.
It was the same story for James Kimmel and Frederick Moran.
Jail officials said those inmates walked away from work release and rehab programs before being arrested again.
“It is a little alarming, but it is just, just the way things are anymore. It’s kind of sad,” said Cody Fedor of Wilkes-Barre about the situation.
“The fences should be better, put barb wire or something up. Even though he’s not like a hardened criminal or whatever, you have children here, you have older people in the community, you just have to be more careful,” said Giles.
Nesbitt said if Kuklinski is caught, jail officials will push to have him charged with escape and serve time in a state facility, to send a message that running away will not be tolerated.