MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — A Mobile County inmate will be charged with felony escape following a ruling from the Attorney General stating work-release escape is a felony and not a misdemeanor, according to a release from the Alabama Attorney General Tuesday afternoon.

Whitney Jones, 54, was a participant in the Mobile Metro Jail’s work-release program in January 2018. Jones and another inmate “did not return to the work-release barracks,” according to the release. In 2017, Jones was arrested and charged with receiving stolen property and attempt to elude after she and another suspect led police on a seven-mile chase.

Previous reporting from 2018 escape

In October 2018, Jones was charged with second-degree escape and she was “subsequently convicted,” according to the release.

Jones argued at trial and on appeal that “she only could have been guilty of a misdemeanor due to a provision in Alabama’s work-release escape statute.”

“The Alabama Supreme Court rejected that claim and firmly established for the first time that Alabama’s felony escape statutes apply not only to escapes from correctional facilities, but also escapes from work-release programs,” reads the release.

Attorney General Steve Marshall “praised the Supreme Court’s decision and noted that it will provide law enforcement, as well as prosecutors, tools with which to ensure the safety and efficacy of work release and community corrections programs.”

“Escaping from a work release or community corrections program is a felony under Alabama law and it will be treated as such from this point forward,” said Attorney General Marshall. “Community corrections and work-release programs are intended to provide a second opportunity for less serious offenders. Those who escape from these programs have forfeited that opportunity and will now be held fully accountable for their actions.”

The AG’s Criminal Appeals Division handled the case during the appeal process. The Alabama Court of Criminals Appeals and the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed Jones’ felony conviction in a decision on Sept. 16.

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