By Associated Press - Tuesday, August 11, 2015

KITTANNING, Pa. (AP) - A western Pennsylvania prison board voted Monday to hire an independent consultant to probe the escape of an inmate who authorities say killed a woman while he was on the run.

The vote came during a special meeting of Armstrong County’s prison board. It hasn’t decided which consultant will be hired to investigate the events leading up to the July escape of Robert Edward Crissman.

District Attorney Scott Andreassi, who’s also a prison board member, said it’s important to ensure that the consultant has broad latitude in investigating the incident, as well as Armstrong County Jail’s policies and procedures.

“I want it to be clear that there are no boundaries on this investigation,” said Andreassi, who is already overseeing a separate probe of the incident. “We want literally everything looked at, including policies, procedures, personnel and everything that occurred during this incident. We need to understand all of this if we’re going to restore the trust that we need to run this prison.”

After Crissman, 38, slipped away from a work detail last month, police said he beat and strangled Tammy Long, 55. The program Crissman was a part of has been suspended since his escape.

Board Solicitor Jason Lewis said the hiring of an outside firm would ensure an unbiased analysis of the prison program and Crissman’s escape.

“This board owes it to the public to show them we are doing everything we can to find out what happened on the day of the escape and to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Lewis said. “We want to make sure we’re running a safe and secure facility.”

Crissman’s preliminary hearing was set for Wednesday.


This story has been corrected to show that the prison board has not yet hired an outside investigator.

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