After Prison Break In New York, Viral Video Raises Questions A video shows a man approach the prison with a bag, which is hoisted up the prison wall and disappears out of view. Does this security lapse have anything to do with the escaped cons?
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After Prison Break In New York, Viral Video Raises Questions

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After Prison Break In New York, Viral Video Raises Questions

After Prison Break In New York, Viral Video Raises Questions

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This week begins with a nationwide manhunt still underway. Authorities are searching for two convicted murderers who escaped earlier this month from a maximum security prison in Dannemora, N.Y. - I said maximum security. But people who've seen a new video wonder if that title fits this prison. North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann explains.

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: This story begins with a pair of observant TV viewers who were watching a Fox News broadcast in the days after this prison break began. In the segment, host Greta Van Susteren is interviewing a reporter on the scene in Dannemora, with the massive, white walls of Clinton Correctional Facility, the guard towers and the village's main street visible in the background. Then the viewers noticed something really strange.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: And there's a person in the background with a red bag walking across the street in the background. The newscaster is reporting - and they walk over to the prison wall.

MANN: This person, wearing civilian clothes and a dark jacket, can be seen climbing the steps under one of the guard towers. Civilians and journalists have been warned away from that area since Richard Matt and David Sweat escaped. But in the video, this person isn't warned away. Those observant viewers are clearly flabbergasted by what happens next.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Somebody lowers a rope and pulls the bag up. So you can see the bag going up the wall there (laughter) OK, right on TV.

MANN: The entire process isn't visible in the video, but you can clearly see the bag being hoisted up the wall - this at a time when the maximum security prison was in lockdown with a tense manhunt underway. It's important to say that this clearly had nothing to do with the escape of those two inmates, but the video went viral with more than 5 million hits, sparking a lot of questions and debates and even mockery about just how secure this prison is. Here's Fox host Greta Van Susteren.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: ...Because we're getting so many of your emails, tweets and Facebook messages right now.

MANN: The video also sparked an angry response on social media from corrections officers and their families. They say that using ropes to hoist lunches, carryout food and other supplies to guards working long shifts in the tower is a long-standing tradition at Clinton-Dannemora - one they say that doesn't threaten security. Two restaurant operators confirmed to NPR that they had delivered carryout lunches to guards in this way in the past. They wouldn't agree to be interviewed on tape or let their names be used because they don't want to risk losing business they get delivering food to prison employees. NPR also sent repeated requests to state officials in New York's Corrections Department to find out if this activity is considered normal and safe. They declined to comment. But it seems certain that practices like this - some in place for decades - will now face close scrutiny. Two investigations are already underway to determine whether security lapses at Clinton-Dannemora prison allowed the two convicted murderers access to power tools they needed to cut their way out. For NPR News, I'm Brian Mann in northern New York.

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