Stone prison wall falls at Jefferson City site

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Prison officials say they have no plans to rebuild a 100-foot section of limestone wall that collapsed at the Jefferson City Correctional Center.

The wall fell about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, but no inmates escaped and no one was hurt, prison officials said Monday.

Earlier this year, the Department of Corrections had installed a second interior fence, topped with razor wire, to prevent inmates from reaching the limestone wall.

The wall was likely to come down anyway, because the state is building a new prison to replace the 166-year-old facility, believed to be the oldest operating prison west of the Mississippi River.

Officials aren't sure what caused the wall to collapse, said department spokesman John Fougere. "You get that kind of age, and climate and rain could be a factor," Fougere said.

The hole in the wall is to be filled with a wire fence attached to steel poles and topped with razor wire, he said.

It is to be covered with a canvas so people can't see into, or out of, the prison.

The department brought in several tractor-trailer rigs to block the gap in the wall while the new fence is being installed.

Fougere said this fence should "hold us until we move to the new institution in about a year and a half."

Construction already is under way for a more modern Jefferson City Correctional Center. A state commission still is making plans for using the current prison site after the prison closes.

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