UPDATE: Augusta Transitional Center escapee identified

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News 12 First at Five/ April 28, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga.--An inmate is on the loose after escaping from the Augusta Transitional Center early Monday morning. Officials say Robert McClellan escaped out a back door of the Taylor Street facility around 4:30 AM. He was serving a 10 year sentence for theft charges in Burke county.

This is not the first time, or even the tenth time an inmate has escaped from ATC. Since 2011, we've found record of at least eleven inmates who have escaped from the Augusta Transitional Center.

Stella Nunnally lives in a neighborhood near the transitional center. She's also the former President of the Laney Walker Neighborhood Association. She woke up to the news about the latest escape Monday morning.

"They just keep getting out. You can't feel safe out of the house. You can't feel safe in the house," she said. "You never know what's going on."

The Augusta Transitional Center is a halfway house that lets inmates work and gain life skills before being released back into society. Unfortunately, ATC is also known for letting inmates slip through the cracks. Last year, an inmate on the inside told News 12 that escapes happen all the time. He said, "When they get out, they get comfortable thinking they're free, and they get back into old habits and old lifestyles."

The latest escape happened around 4:30 Monday morning. A door alarm sounded, guards did an emergency head count and realized McClellan wasn't there. They later discovered that he escaped through the back door and climbed the fence.

"You can't feel safe when you know these things are at your back door," Nunnally said.

The federal government is in the process of deciding whether to approve another halfway house right across the street from the current one on Taylor Street. She says that is not something she wants in her community.

"If we already have one that has 202 beds, then why put another one in our area? Why not rehab them in some other area?" she argues.

The city has approved rezoning the Taylor Street area for another halfway house, and the bids for the federal project are closed. Now, it'll be up to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to make a final decision whether to bring another transitional center to the area.

Monday, April 28, 2014

RICHMOND COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW) -- Richmond County dispatch confirms that an inmate has escaped from the Augusta Transitional Center.

Dispatch says the inmate walked away from the facility on Taylor St. around 4 a.m. Robert McClellan went out of an emergency door and climbed the fence to escape, a Georgia Department of Corrections source said.

Georgia Department of Corrections officials confirm that McClellan was "placed on escape status" this morning. The department says a statewide lookout is in effect.

Records show McClellan was facing robbery charges in Gwinnett County and theft by taking charges in Burke County. McClellan was sentenced to 10 years from the Burke County charges, the source said.

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