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Bank robbery accomplice escapes prison

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Seven years after the February, 1933 Plain Dealing bank robbery, The Bossier Banner reported in its September 5, 1940 issue that one of the accomplices in that robbery had escaped prison.

“Among the 36 prisoners making a bloody break from an Arkansas Prison farm early this week was Dirk Harvey, one of three men who a few years ago, held up and robbed the First State Bank in Plain Dealing.”

“Young Harvey along with Charley Frazier, was tried, convicted and sentenced to the State Penitentiary, in Bossier District Court.”

“He was later released on parole.  Sometime later on he was convicted of shooting and killing his brother, back in Arkansas, where his criminal career began.  Again he went to the penitentiary, where he had worked himself up to be a trusty guard, when he fled with the others in this week’s break.”

“Until a late hour Wednesday he was still unapprehended.  The convicts had fled over a wide area.  They killed one guard in the break.  Later a posseman was slain near Columbia, in Caldwell Parish, Louisiana, where a group of prisoners gave up, after releasing two girls and a boy, kidnaped and held as hostages, after their car was commandeered by the convicts, near Rayville.”

“One convict was killed near Columbia, two others in Arkansas, while the net closed about the prisoners and more of them were being apprehended.  Reports Wednesday said a Monroe man had been kidnaped and Little Rock, Arkansas place of business robbed by others of the convicts.”

In the same issue of The Bossier Banner an article titled”Parole Abuse” appeared.

“This week we have again had brought to mind, in a forcible manner, the danger of lax handling of paroles and pardons, both in Louisiana and our neighbor to the north.”

“Early this week 36 desperate convicts broke out of an Arkansas prison farm, killing one guard in the break.  Since that time one of the convicts has been killed, several wounded and one citizen killed and several kidnaped.”

“Listed among one of the convicts escaping is Dirk Harvey, an Arkansas parolee, some years ago when he participated in the robbery of the Plain Dealing bank.  He was later sentenced to a term in the Louisiana prison, from which he was paroled before finishing his sentence.”

“Not long after getting out of the Louisiana penitentiary he was involved in a shooting scrape, in which he is said to have slain his own brother, up in Arkansas.  He was serving his sentence for that crime when he engaged in this week’s bloody break.”

“Harvey was already a confirmed criminal when he was mixed up in the Bossier Parish bank robbery.  This being so he ought never to have been paroled by Louisiana authorities to be set free to indulge again in a life of crime and lawlessness.”

“We understand that he was acting as a trusty guard when he fled the Arkansas prison this week—how careless can our prison officials become.  This man is a criminal of the first water.  He needs to be confined so that he can never against [!] escape to the outside to menace society.”

“Yes, our parole and pardon system lets too many get out in the world to murder, pillage, rob and carry out their many criminal activities.”

“We certainly hope that under the Jones administration [Sam H. Jones was then governor of Louisiana] many of the evils of our former system of paroles and pardons will be cured—we hope once for all.”

Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or by e-mail at amiddlet@state.lib.la.us

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