Chester County residents continue to press officials about prison escape

"There needs to be state changes that happen in Pennsylvania in order for us to feel safe in our homes," said one resident.

What you need to know

This story originally appeared on 6abc.

A second community meeting was held Wednesday night for Chester County residents following their two-week ordeal after a convicted killer escaped from prison.

Officials are still trying to assure residents another prison escape will not happen again.

The town hall played out, once again, at Pocopson Elementary School.

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“Monday we heard from the community that alerts weren’t fast enough with this escape, we hadn’t had something this significant in Chester County in quite a long time. Now when that siren goes off, everyone is going to get a text instantly,” said Chair of the Prison Board Josh Maxwell.

Updates to the alert system are just one of the immediate changes residents can expect.

Prison upgrades include new razor wire and mesh where Danelo Cavalcante and another prisoner escaped.

During another meeting Wednesday afternoon, the Chester County Prison Board approved a $94,000 contract with TranSystems to design security upgrades to the prison, including enclosing the yard that was where Cavalcante’s escape began.

The board also approved temporary fixes to the prison, including closing off the area above the entrance doors to the prison yard with a security metal soffit, removing basketball hoops, and adding correctional officers to the prison yards to supplement the supervision from the guard tower.

“I think this is a wake-up call for the whole community. I think we’ve all seen what the worst could possibly be,” said Brenden Madonia from Pocopson Township. “We as a community want a little more action.”

There are still concerns about the inspection process and how the Chester County prison, a site that passed all the necessary requirements in September of 2022, resulted in an escape less than a year later.

According to state law, Pennsylvania requires state inspections of county prisons for things like personnel training, prison policies, and sanitation. However, those inspections are not required to include checking facilities for escape risks.

“There needs to be state changes that happen in Pennsylvania in order for us to feel safe in our homes,” said Claudia Steinmuller from Pocopson Township. “We’re really hoping the change comes about how it should.”

Another town hall meeting will be planned for the northern part of the county where Cavalcante was captured. The times and dates have not been announced.

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“There’s a lot of conversations we still need to have with the community. We have to earn back their trust,” said Maxwell. “As long as people want to talk to us and have questions answered. We are going to be there.”

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