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Parolee arrested trying to break back into Sacramento prison

August 12, 2011 |  1:06 pm

Parolee tries to break back into prison Most people have heard stories of inmates trying to break out of prison -- but what about a parolee trying to break in?

Marvin Lane Ussery, 48, was arrested after trying to make his way into California State Prison in Sacramento late Wednesday night, prison spokesman Tony Quinn said. Guards first spotted a suspicious man on the outer perimeter of the prison about 11:30 p.m., and notified prison and Folsom police officials. After an emergency count showed all inmates were accounted for, authorities knew they weren't looking for an escapee.

Ussery was found about 7 a.m. Thursday lying face-down in a tall thicket of grass in the area surrounding the prison, Quinn said.

Ussery had previously served time in New Folsom Prison for a robbery conviction about three years ago, Quinn said, and had been on parole since June 2009. He was arrested Thursday for unauthorized access to a prison by a felon.

Though Quinn said authorities were still investigating why Ussery was trying to get into the prison, he said it could involve smuggling contraband items to inmates. It's a concern at the prison because the facility -- unlike other prisons in California -- is located near houses rather than in the middle of an isolated area, giving people a better opportunity to sneak items onto prison grounds.

The prison's buildings are surrounded by fences and hundreds of acres of grassy terrain, but smugglers occasionally manage to slip backpacks full of drugs, cellphones and tobacco to minimum-security level inmates, who pass the items throughout the rest of the prison population.

"Cellphones are a huge commodity right now. You can go out and find a refurbished phone and pay $19 or less and sell it for $500 to $1,000 in prison -- and if it has Internet access, they tend to go for more. That's really the big draw," Quinn said.

Smuggling can be especially tempting for parolees who are familiar with the prison setup, Quinn said.

"These guys who have been on parole -- who knows the land better than them?" he said. "They totally know the layout and exactly where to hide it."

Quinn said authorities did not find contraband items on Ussery when he was arrested, but they did find a cellphone and pen-light flashlight. They also found Ussery's car parked in a separate area, and a bicycle Quinn said the parolee had used to get closer to the prison.

A search warrant was later issued for Ussery's home, and authorities were in the process of searching it late Friday morning, Quinn said.


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Photo: Marvin Lane Ussery.  Credit: Sacramento County Sheriff's Department / Associated Press