Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Glenn S. Goord, Commissioner

Office of Public Information
[518] 457-8182

For immediate release:

Friday, April 17, 1998

Inmate who walked away from prison work crew recaptured

A Monterey Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility inmate who walked away from an outside community service crew was recaptured this morning after he emerged from a culvert off Townsend Road.

Inmate Richard Melendez was assigned to a community service crew supervised by a Correction Officer that was clearing brush and trash from the Watkins Glen Cemetery on Wednesday when he walked away. Eleven inmates and one Correction Officer were assigned to the crew. Melendez was last seen by the Correction Officer at 1:20 p.m. and was reported missing at 1:30 p.m.

Melendez was recaptured at 9:24 a.m. today in a wooded area located about two miles from the cemetery. Members of the Department of Correctional Services' Inspector General's Office and New York State Police converged on the area following a report that the inmate had been seen there. As searchers combed the area, Melendez emerged from a culvert, where he had covered himself with brush to shield himself from view. He was immediately subdued by a state trooper without incident.

Melendez's 44 hours of freedom could get him as much as seven more years in state prison if he is convicted of first-degree escape. He currently is being held in the Special Housing Unit at the maximum-security Elmira Correctional Facility, pending criminal as well as disciplinary charges. Melendez is serving a term of 1 1/3 to 4 years for two attempted third-degree burglary convictions out of Bronx County earlier this year.

State and local police were notified as soon as the inmate was reported missing and road blocks were set up at strategic locations. State police also used dogs to search the woods near the cemetery and armed Correction Officers conducted vehicle patrols throughout the area.

Melendez was received into the State prison system on Feb. 6 and has been an inmate at Monterey since March 19. He would have been eligible for parole Sept. 17.

The last escape at Monterey occurred on Aug. 29, 1994, when an inmate walked away from an outside work crew. He was apprehended 2 ½ hours later in Syracuse.

Monterey, a minimum-security prison in Schuyler County, opened in 1958. It houses 283 of the 69,511 inmates currently in the State prison system.