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Black River Corrections Facility disappointed in escaped inmates

BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- James Newman, 29, and James Misleveck, 18, walked away from the Black River Correctional facility a week and a half ago.

It's a minimum security facility near Black River Falls. The escaped inmates are accused of going on a crime spree that eventually ended when they were arrested this Wednesday all the way down in Hollywood, Florida.

This is not your typical correctional facility. Inmates wanting to participate have to prove they're eligible and willing to change in order to earn their way in.

Officials are still not sure why the two men walked away, but what they do know is Newman and Misleveck won't be earning their way back in anytime soon.

At the Black River Correctional Facility, the 100 inmates there are preparing for the transition back into civilian life.

"When some of the inmates come here, we know they're here just to try and do their six months and to try and get out early," said John Steindorf, Captain of the Black River Correctional facility. "Unfortunately for them, they usually learn something."


Newman and Misleveck were two of the inmates finishing up their sentences at this facility.

Misleveck had just three weeks before he graduated from the program. Steindorf said he was doing well in the Challenge Incarceration Program.

"We were all baffled when we found out it was him," said Steindorf. "I interacted with him a couple of times myself, and he was an exceptional inmate, and he worked well on work crew and stuff like that. He was learning how to be self-sufficient, and you couldn't have asked more."

Newman still had five months to go. Dave Andraska, the facility's superintendent, said he seemed to be in the process of changing for the better.

"Like a lot of inmates who get here, they struggle initially with the program, but there was no talk about him wanting to quit the program prior to him walking away," said Andraska.

All inmates at the facility are within six months of being released.

Their files have been reviewed and approved by a judge and the Department of Corrections. Then they have to endure a five-phase military style program before inmates can earn their way to freedom.

Steindorf said the majority of inmates never leave the program the same way they came in. "This is definitely not madness," said Steindorf.

"It's all planned. It's all measured. There's a policy, rules [and] regulations governing everything we do out here," said Steindorf.

While the question of why these two inmates decided to escape still baffles this community, one thing is clear: Steindorf and Andraska say these two men missed out on the benefits of the program.

"They have their reasons for doing what they do and we can't read their minds," said Steindorf. "All we can do is show them what they need to learn and then it's up to them to make the decisions to use what we teach them."

Facilities have already made changes in their procedure responding to escaped inmates.

One of the first things the inmates did after escaping Black River Correctional Facility was to take a woman hostage at the Ho-Chunk Casino just three miles away from the facility.

Andraska said the Ho Chunk Nation will be one of the first to know, along with surrounding law enforcement officials, anytime an inmate has escaped.

The Black River Correctional Facility has been up and running for eight years now.

One inmate who escaped in 2007. That man was arrested the same day.

More than 1,300 inmates have graduated from the program. Andraska said about 75 percent of graduates stay out of prison for good.

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