N.J. inmates get 5-year sentences in ‘Shawshank’ escape
ELIZABETH, N.J. - Two New Jersey men whose escape from jail led to the suicide of a corrections officer and spurred comparisons to the movie “The Shawshank Redemption’’ were given maximum prison sentences yesterday by a judge who rejected their attorneys’ pleas for leniency.
Otis Blunt and Jose Espinosa each received five years in prison for the December 2007 breakout from the Union County Jail that exposed flaws in the jail’s security measures and prompted numerous reforms. They had each pleaded guilty in May.
Though Blunt, 34, eventually was acquitted of the robbery charge he was jailed for at the time of the escape, state Superior Court Judge Joseph Donohue noted that his criminal past includes a 1995 conviction for robbery and aggravated assault.
The 21-year-old Espinosa’s sentence will be tacked on to the 17-year sentence he is serving for aggravated manslaughter.
Authorities said Blunt and Espinosa dug through the cinderblocks in their adjoining cells with a 10-pound steel valve wheel and hid the holes under photos of bikini-clad women, as in the movie.