PNJ reporter Kevin Robinson interviewed female inmates that were in Escambia County’s Central Booking and Detention Center. The recordings of those interviews are posted on pnj.com.
Their stories match many of the details that we published in this week’s issue (Inside the Chaos).
Jennifer Baldwin said she had smelled the gas and tried to tell “every CO I saw about it.” When the power went out, the smell got “really strong.” She was scared to go asleep because the gas smell was so strong. She told the guards she had a “bad, bad headache.”
Margarett Callahan said that there was a gas smell all through the facility the night of the explosion.
Chelsea Lloyd said that she had been having bad headaches from smelling gas. She also said that she had heard from the guards that maintenance had told them to evacuate the building three hours before the explosion.
Feather McGlothren watched the flood waters rise Tuesday night. She said that she had smelled gas, too, and had complained to Ms. Lundsford, a corrections officer (CO). The night of the explosion, McGlothen said that CO Ms. Brown had told her the smell of gas outside her area in the CBD was stronger than what she was smelling inside.
Kristy Tidwell, who worked in the laundry area, said she had been smelling gas “forever.” She said they had gotten lightheaded. She said that the “maintenance man was in the basement all the time…they were always having to half-rig things down there, nothing worked properly.”
Tidwell also said the she and her fellow inmates weren’t being guarded by COs the day before the explosion. They were watched by an assistant CO – “she’s not really a guard.” According to Tidwell, “all the COs were out at the firing range.”
McGlothren talked about not being feed until 10 a.m. That inmates on medications couldn’t take them because they need food in their stomachs to do so. She said that they gave them very little water to drink. What they did had “stuff floating in it.” Sandwiches and peanut butter were handed out again around 6 p.m.
You need to listen to these interviews.