Sometimes doing a job right can take some time. But one seldom expects professional duties to take four decades to complete. But that seems to be the case for some recent police work. When one thinks of jailbreaks it’s usually in the context of movies. And in those situations one can usually expect some kind of narrative clarity. The story is good or bad, black or white. But the recent case of Jose Chico Romero shows that reality is often much more complicated. Jose Chico Romero had been sentenced to an extensive jail time since December 13th 1979. However the fact that he was also sentenced to a work gang gave the criminal the chance he needed. Romero managed to escape the scene of his sentenced work for the prison system and made his escape. Over forty years later he’d be known as Arnaldo Figueroa. Old habits tend to die hard though. And the new 64 year old man found himself arrested for trespassing.

Things would have gone fairly quickly in most other circumstances. However, his legal documents quickly proved to be false. And with that the search was on. The local police found out he was wanted in South Carolina. As such the Dover police force became determined to hunt the criminal down in order to bring him to justice in the area he should have served his time within. Romero was finally found near Willis Road. From there he was taken over to the Sussex Correctional Institution. The foundation, in Georgetown Delaware, was to be used to house him until further instructions were received. The successful apprehension of a now senior citizen who’d escaped jail forty years ago isn’t exactly a common occurrence. As such one can sympathise with a system that isn’t quite sure how to proceed. In the end a decision was made to hold him on a $18,000 bond while the South Carolina Department of Corrections rallied their resources to take him back to the place he’d been avoiding since the 1970s.

Romero’s charges have escalated considerably since his initial arrest back in the 70s though. He now has the additional charge of fleeing from custody. But on top of this there’s also new charges of public intoxication, the third degree trespassing which brought him to the police’s attention again and forgery in the second degree. The latter is what allowed him to escape notice so long. It would seem that his talents at forgery is what let him adopt a new life as Arnaldo Figueroa. The extent of all those charges put together is immense. And one needs to factor in his status as a senior citizen. It’s quite possible that with the amount of time he needs to serve that it will last for the rest of his life. Bryan Stirling, the director for the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) noted that Romero would have been a free man for a very long time by now if he’d just served his time. But more than that, prison systems offer up a wide variety of services aimed at rehabilitation. They’re not there to simply act as a punishment. But rather as a system to ensure that people don’t fall back on a criminal lifestyle once they’re free. Given Romero’s criminal actions since escaping, Stirling obviously wonders what might have happened of Romero had taken advantage of those programs.