Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hailey man escapes jail, is recaptured

Express Staff Writer

Richard Daniel Nieves

A 20-year-old Hailey man faces losing his opportunity for rehabilitation after escaping Sunday from a low-security correctional facility in northern Idaho and being recaptured the following day.

Richard Daniel Nieves, who was convicted in Blaine County of felony injury to a child, was one of two men who escaped over a security fence from the North Idaho Correctional Facility in Cottonwood shortly after 6 p.m. Sunday. The Idaho Department of Correction identified the other man as 20-year-old Ben Wesley Perez, convicted in Minidoka County of possession of forgery devices and burglary.

The Department of Correction reported that the men were apprehended following a four-wheeler accident Monday near the Cottonwood facility. The accident was being investigated by Idaho County authorities. It was not immediately known where the men obtained the four-wheeler or if more than one vehicle was involved. Their injuries were described as not life-threatening in a Department of Correction press release.

Both Nieves and Perez also face the possibility of escape charges, an offense punishable in Idaho by up to 10 years in prison.

"Because they have an escape now, they'll probably be transported back to Boise to a more secure facility," said Department of Correction spokeswoman Teresa Jones.

The Department of Correction reported that both Nieves and Perez were sentenced to the Cottonwood facility under the state's retained jurisdiction program, under which inmates are given a chance at rehabilitation as an alternative to prison. Inmates are typically placed on probation if they successfully complete the program.

Nieves, who was sentenced by Judge Barry Wood in May in Blaine County 5th District Court, was given an alternative prison sentence of four to seven years. According to the Department of Correction, Perez was given an alternative sentence in Minidoka County of three to 10 years.

Jones said the Department of Correction will file reports with the presiding judges detailing how well the men performed under the retained jurisdiction program. Decisions on keeping the men on retained jurisdiction or sending them to prison are up to the judges.

Nieves was originally charged in Blaine County in July 2008 with two counts of lewd conduct with a minor child under 16 after he was caught by Hailey police Lt. Steve England engaged in sex acts with a 15-year-old girl in the women's restroom at Lawrence Heagle City Park in West Hailey. In exchange for his guilty plea to felony injury to a child, both lewd conduct charges were dismissed.

Terry Smith:

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