San Fernando Valley : Sheriff's Official Blames Human Error for Jailbreak

A high-ranking Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department official said Tuesday that last week's escape at the Pitchess jail in Castaic was the result of human error, budget cuts and more dangerous criminals.

Undersheriff Jerry Harper told the county Board of Supervisors that the Sept. 20 breakout by three inmates--the second such incident at the Peter J. Pitchess Detention Center in five months--was under investigation. Two of the three escaped inmates remain at large.

"We have a failure in our mission," Harper said. "It was not due to one major flaw, but a series of minor mistakes."

The men broke out of the sprawling facility by using, among other items, a can opener for cutting and bedsheets as a makeshift rope.

Harper told the board that Pitchess has added additional security checks. Sheriff's officials also said the department might use sirens--possibly from a nuclear power plant--to alert neighbors in case of another jailbreak. The sirens could be in place within a month

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