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Thursday, May 1, 1997

Freed convict gains escort back to jail

The Commercial Appeal, May 1, 1997
By John Semien

A woman released Tuesday from the Shelby County Correction Center was nabbed by a security guard while attempting to rob the First Tennessee Bank at 165 Madison Wednesday.

Jerald Yvonne Jordan, 42, was apprehended shortly after she entered the bank at 12:50 p.m. and approached a teller with a note demanding money, according to authorities.

Back in jail, Jordan was charged with a state charge of attempted theft.

But authorities say incarceration may have been her goal.

"The lady who committed the robbery is a repeat robber," said FBI spokesman Willie Stewart. "Usually, after she is released from the penal farm she appears at a bank and is arrested."

Jordan, who was released after serving a three-year sentence for robbery, openly talked about her plans before leaving the center, according to Novella Smith Arnold, a former volunteer chaplain at the center who was arranging Jordan's transition back into society.

"She (Jordan) told everybody that as soon as she got out she was going to rob a bank," Arnold said. "She is not a criminal, she is a victim of the criminal justice system. Her only crime is she's mentally impaired and there's no place to put her."

Arnold, who ministers to mentally and physically impaired prisoners and homeless people, spoke to Jordan Tuesday about finding a new home after her release.

Arnold was standing in line at the bank shortly after the attempted robbery. Seeing Jordan being led away by police was eerie but not surprising to Arnold, who said she has known Jordan for 10 years.

"I believed she was going to rob a bank but I didn't believe she was going to do it today," Arnold said Wednesday.

Arnold, who heads We Care Inc., an outreach ministry of Calvary Episcopal Church, said she talked to counselors at the center about Jordan's robbery plans before her release.

Correction center director Robert Sprecher said Jordan had to be released because she had served her time.

"This woman is marginally mentally ill and required an assisted living environment, which our counselors arranged at a local care home," Sprecher said. "There's nothing we can do if a citizen calls me and tells me a person we have scheduled for release is going to commit a new crime, we still must release the person.

"It's a shame that this offender committed a new crime after the release," he said.

But Sprecher said center officials were not told about Jordan's plans to commit robbery.

He said some inmates become accustomed to incarceration and commit offenses shortly after their release so that they can return.

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Edition: Final; Section: Metro; Page: B1
Copyright (c) 1997 The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN

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