Escaped MCC inmate Jose Banks captured near Lincoln Park, appears in court

December 22, 2012 12:30:55 PM PST
One of the bank robbers who escaped from a downtown jail was back in custody Friday.

Joseph "Jose" Banks was captured Friday morning in the city's North Side.

Banks was found at an apartment in the 2300-block of North Bosworth. While Banks may have been captured there, relatives of the man who lives there said he is not connected to any of the crimes.

"He had no affiliation with the bank robberies or escape," the resident's father Kenneth Springfield said.

"My son knows this gentlemen because of the fact that they went to school together. That's it," the resident's mother Faye Springfield said.

Banks stood in his orange jumpsuit Friday, handcuffed and shackled, and answered all the judge's questions with a respectful "sir" and "your honor".

It did not seem to fit the portrait of a daring escapee who climbed down 17 stories on a rope of bed sheets.

"Jose Banks is not a violent person. He's been characterized that way. I think that is a mischaracterization of Jose Banks," said Banks's attorney, Beau Brindley.

Banks was back at the Metropolitan Correctional Center Friday evening, this time being kept in isolation, according to his attorney. Despite being on the run for about 70 hours, it appears that he never left the Chicago area.

In court, Banks was surrounded by no fewer than six federal marshals. As many 20 FBI agents were involved in his arrest late Thursday night at an apartment complex in the 2300-block of N. Bosworth.

"I was so shocked... I'm thinking the man was long gone. And the whole time he was living downstairs," said neighbor Raven Beck.

The FBI is not saying what led authorities to Banks, how he came to be at the apartment, or where he has been since Tuesday.

"His cousin stays over here, too. He has family over here. That's why i think he was over here," said neighbor Hezekiah Harper-Bey.

Banks's cellmate Kenneth Conley is still on the loose.

But a man who works at a sub shop directly across the street from where Banks was captured says he saw a man who fits Conley's description.

"He was driving too fast...he was walking in a hurry across the street," sandwich shop worker Rami Azzedine said.

A law enforcement source says it appears the two men separated shortly after traveling together Tuesday morning to the Tinley Park home of Conley's mother.

Meanwhile, prison officials are investigating what went wrong. Friday, the prison guards union pointed a finger at staffing cuts.

"We were told that basically we've got to cut the fat," said Michael Rule, president of the Council of Prison Locals 33.

Rule says instead of two guards watching surveillance monitors, one of those guards was needed for other duties on the night of the escape.

Rule says Banks and Conley likely hid their stockpile of bed sheets in their mattresses after removing the cushions, something a routine search of their cell would have found had there been enough staff to do it.

"They cut it to where they said would be the minimum, allow me to say, standards that we could operate a very secure institution," said Rule.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which runs the MCC, says that it is "premature to speculate as to what factors contributed to the incident," but that the MCC currently has adequate staffing at this time.

The FBI had no comment on the search for Kenneth Conley on Friday.


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