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Questions remain in Brown County inmate escape

Brown County Sheriff's Office
Posted at 9:13 PM, Sep 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-08 22:15:40-04

BROWN COUNTY (NBC 26) — Deputies from the Brown County Sheriff's Office recovered an escaped inmate Tuesday night.

A press release stated Justin J. Dietrich escaped from the Brown County Jail on Monday morning, and a later release stated he was apprehended late Tuesday night.

However, the 36-hour manhunt leaves several unanswered questions.

The Sheriff's Office said Dietrich escaped from the loading dock area of the jail at 10:23 a.m., but there was no word about the escape on the police scanner for another hour and a half.

"Can you check the area of Brown County Jail? They had an escapee, been missing for approximately an hour, left on foot, male party last seen wearing blue inmate uniform," a voice on the scanner said at 12:04 p.m.

It is unclear whether the department knew of the escape during this hour and a half gap.

"The male has about an hour and a half on us. About 10:26 left," a different voice on the police scanner said at 12:04 p.m.

After that radio call, the sheriff's department did not notify the public for over two hours, with that notification happening at 2:45 p.m.

It is not clear what caused this delay.

While not commenting on this specific case, Badger State Sheriffs' Association President Nate Dreckman said there is no official statewide protocol for how or when a sheriff's department notifies the public about an escaped inmate.

"It really depends on the inmate and what they're in for, and then what kind of threat you see towards the public as to what level of notification you do," Dreckman said.

The sheriff's office said Dietrich was being held on drug charges and serving a probation sentence for domestic violence.

Lieutenant Amber Rozek of the Winnebago County Sheriff's office also did not comment on this case.

She said escapes at the Winnebago County Jail happen rarely, but explained their process for handling them.

"We have an entire checklist and process that we start that begins with the notifications of the possible escape," Rozek said. "And then investigation within the jail between the inmates they were housed with phone calls that they've made, and contacts that are known to us that we reach out to."

NBC 26 reached out to the Brown County Sheriff's office, they declined to comment on this case.