Bowie County Failed Jail Inspection Following July Escapes


TEXARKANA, Texas–The Texas Commission on Jail Standards has placed Bowie County on its list of non-compliant jails following an inspection triggered by the escapes of two men in July who were on the loose for more than six hours before their absence was discovered.

Bowie County was added Friday to the list of non-compliant lockups in the Lone Star State as the result of an inspection conducted Aug. 3, records show.

Inmates Wade Burton Land, 39, and J.C. Lee Kirby, 38, allegedly escaped from the lockup on the fourth floor of the Bi-State Justice Center at around 3 a.m. July 7 dressed in street clothes, according to earlier reports from the Bowie County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, jail staff were unaware that Land and Kirby had breached the facility until 9:15 a.m. that morning, almost six-and-a-half hours after video surveillance recorded them walking out of the Bi-State in downtown Texarkana.

The state commission faulted jail employees for failing to conduct state mandated hourly face-to-face checks with all inmates. Staff are required to make face-to-face contact every 30 minutes in areas holding inmates who “are known to be assaultive, potentially suicidal, mentally ill or who have exhibited bizarre behavior,” according to TCJS.

According to a notice of non-compliance issued to Bowie County by the commission, video footage reviewed by state inspectors revealed that while “rounds were conducted as mandated by minimum jail standards, face-to-face observations were not conducted.”

In other words, jail staff walked the halls of the facility as required but neglected to make sure inmates were in their cells via the required face-to-face observation. Bowie County will be removed from the state’s list of non-compliant jails once TCJS has completed another inspection and determined the jail is operating according to state standards.

Land, who was being held in the jail on an escape charge from a previous breakout in March 2022 that ended with another inmate being killed by police, was arrested July 17 in Austin. Kirby remains a fugitive.

Kirby’s daughter, Makaylee Blackmon, 22, was arrested and charged for helping the men with their escape. Blackmon provided Kirby with clothing and a car, according to a probable cause affidavit. According to court records, she received probation for hindering apprehension and drug possession at a hearing Monday before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell.

In March 2022, Land and a different inmate, Michael Olson, 30, managed to break out of the Bowie County jail annex adjacent to the Bi-State.

The two men had broken through cinder block, climbed into a pipe chase and knocked a hole through concrete on the back wall to exit the jail from the second floor. Once outside, the men were able to maneuver through the perimeter fencing and concertina wire before fleeing the jail property, according to a statement from Bowie County Sheriff Jeff Neal at the time.

Land was arrested for escape in Texarkana, Ark., while Olson was shot and killed when he grappled with a Texarkana Ark. Police Dept. officer trying to take him into custody March 21, 2022. Land remained in Arkansas custody until Feb. 28 when he was returned to Bowie County to face an escape charge related to the 2022 breakout.

Kirby was being held on a pending drug possession charge and was scheduled for a jury trial this month before 102nd District Judge Jeff Addison. Land remains in the Travis County jail where he faces local charges of unauthorized use of a vehicle and failure to identify.

Bowie County currently has outstanding warrants for both Land and Kirby.

Anyone with information about the location of Kirby is asked to call 911 or the Bowie County Sheriff’s Office at 903-798-3149.

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