East Texas authorities are still looking for a man who escaped their custody this week after being sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Thirty year old Robert Briggs got away after an officer freed one of his hands from his handcuffs so he could use the restroom in the Polk County Courthouse. When Briggs came out of the restroom, he took off, jumped off a second floor stairwell, and ran off.
Briggs was convicted on drug charges. Prison dogs and horses have been searching a wooded area near downtown Livingston to find Briggs.
Authorities don't know if he's armed, but they consider him dangerous.
Sheriff's deputies take jail inmates to and from jail all day for sentencings, hearings, and trials. Handcuffing prisoners is one way to keep a close eye on them, but it's no longer enough.
Nacogdoches County sheriff, Thomas Kerss, said, "Even if the inmate requests to go to the restroom and we had to undo one of the handcuffs, they may be able to fight with that free arm a little bit, they would still have on the leg irons that would restrict their movement from being able to run or flee."
In many cases, inmates that appear before a jury are not handcuffed or shackled, because that could prejudice jurors, but there are ways to get around that without making an inmate look guilty.
"What we would use is a set of leg braces that goes under the clothing and what those braces do is, when the knee is extended, they'll lock, which would prevent someone from being able to flee very fast."
Some inmates sit in court for hours at a time, so many have a real need to be excused for restroom breaks. To avoid problems, authorities often search the facilities for contraband or anything that could help them get away.