The work release facility located inside the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail is operated by a private prison company, Louisiana Workforce, according to a sheriff's office spokesperson.
A company representative Paul Perkins said the front door at the work release facility is usually unlocked allowing the two men to escape Thursday.
"There were mistakes made on our part," said Perkins. "Not the sheriff and not the Department of Corrections."
One of the escapees Douglas Ellison said he decided to leave the facility when he learned he would be transfered to another prison, one he described as a "hell hole."
BATON ROUGE – Two inmates managed to get a taste of freedom Thursday, sparking a swift barrage of manpower for a search of streets around the parish jail.
A source said the inmates were missing for about 45 minutes before the wide-spread search began. Deputies said Douglas Ellison, 25, and Elwood Billiot, 33, walked away from their job. Deputies said the pair were assigned to a job near the jail. Ellison was serving time for possession and distribution of methamphetamines; Billiot was in custody on domestic abuse battery charges.
> NEW: WBRZ Investigative Unit learns Billiot had violent past; Including being a murder suspect. Click HERE for more.
While they were being classified as work release inmates locally, state corrections officials said they were only being housed with work release inmates and were scheduled to be moved to another facility. Work release inmates are typically more trusted than inmates in the more secure jail area. After some confusion among reports by state and local authorities, the sheriff's office clarified Ellison and Billiot were housed in work release areas but were not leaving the jail. It is not clear how the escape happened.
Thursday, Scottlandville High and Ryan Elementary schools were locked down due to the escape.
Both wanted escapees were caught near Southern University around 6 p.m.