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Escape leads Hall County jail chief to step down
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The commander of the Hall County jail has voluntarily stepped down from his post following last week’s escape of an inmate trustee from the $54 million lockup.

Danny Woods, who was named commander of the new jail on Barber Road shortly before its opening in November 2007, also was reduced in rank from captain to lieutenant as a result of the Jan. 16 escape of Obiel Pineda-Pardo, a low-risk inmate in jail on drug and immigration charges.

Sheriff’s officials announced the action Friday following a weeklong internal investigation. Woods was not on duty at the time of the escape, which was blamed on a failure by jailers to adhere to the jail’s head count policies.

The jailer directly blamed for the escape, Roger Dale Green, resigned in lieu of termination, Hall County Sheriff’s Col. Jeff Strickland said. Strickland said Green’s "negligence and inattention" allowed Pineda-Pardo to leave an outdoor trash detail.

Three other jailers were suspended for three days without pay for policy violations, Strickland said.

Sheriff Steve Cronic named Mark Bandy, a former lieutenant and assistant under Woods, as the new jail commander. Bandy, a 16-year veteran of the department, was promoted to captain for the new assignment.

Authorities have been unable to locate Pineda-Pardo, who walked off while taking trash to a container outside the building and was not noticed missing until nearly 36 hours later. He is not considered a dangerous escapee.

Pineda-Pardo was one of a number of jail inmates who are allowed outside the jail building for various tasks as trustees.

Inmates who are considered violent, dangerous or escape risks are not granted trustee status, Strickland said.

"It is important to note that the inmate did not escape from the secure facility; he walked away from a work detail on the exterior of the facility," Strickland said.

The area where Pineda-Pardo escaped is surrounded by a perimeter fence topped with razor wire, Strickland confirmed. The escapee was wearing an orange and white-striped jumpsuit when he fled.

Citing security, officials will not discuss exactly how they think Pineda-Pardo was able to escape the area.

The 1,026-bed jail was built with money from a voter-approved sales tax to replace the aging detention facility on Main Street. When constructed, it was the biggest capital outlay project in county history.