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A year ago today 4 fugitives took on local law enforcement

Press File Photo by Dustin Monke Law enforcement surrounds a house south of Gladstone where escaped fugitives holed up a year ago today.

Four Alabama fugitives who were involved in a standoff near Gladstone that ended a year ago today cost Stark County nearly $80,000, officials say. North Dakota taxpayers will continue paying for them as they serve their prison sentences -- which vary from 7.5 years to 20 years.

Stark County officials wonder if an Alabama prison is to blame for the incident and whether they can make the prison cover some of the costs.

Ashton Mink and Joshua Southwick allegedly escaped from Perry County Correctional Center in Alabama with the help of Mink's wife, Jacquelin, and his sister, Angela in May 2009.

"Frankly, the escape was well-planned and very well-executed," said Richard Harbison, executive vice president of LCS Correction Service Inc., which owns Perry County Correction Center. "They knew exactly what they were doing and they were able to find the weaknesses, so to speak."

He added they're the only ones to ever escape from the prison.

The four then robbed Movie Gallery in Dickinson at gunpoint, shot at a North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper and holed up in a garage at a farmstead near Gladstone.

After a standoff with police that lasted several hours, Southwick and Angela Mink -- who were reportedly dating -- surrendered.

Ashton and Jacquelin Mink ran out the back of the garage they were hiding in handcuffed together and fired at officers. Authorities believe they were trying to end their own lives by getting officers to fire at them.

Ashton Mink was shot by officers and Jacquelin Mink then shot herself.

Tom Henning, Stark County state's attorney, said the county is refusing to pay an additional $65,000 for Jacquelin Mink's hospital bill. He said that bill was from her stay at a Bismarck hospital after the standoff, but before she was taken to jail.

"These people were not arrested and had not been in the custody of Stark County, and therefore we aren't responsible," Henning said.

Stark County has to pay for their medical costs after they were arrested. Ashton Mink was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Dickinson, which did not bill the county for his treatment.

"After they inquired about the nature of the matter and were informed that we did not consider them to be prisoners at the time of their injuries, nor were they in custody at the time of their injuries, they did not inquire any further about payment," Henning said.

Though he hasn't begun researching whether or not it is possible, Henning said he plans to pursue a lawsuit against LCS Correction Service.

"The question kind of looms about whether or not they could be found to have been negligent and therefore responsible for foreseeable costs of their escape," Henning said.

Harbison declined comment regarding the matter.

However, he said security has been enhanced at the prison since the escape, though he wouldn't say how.

"We've changed a number of policies and of course a number of people were fired over the incident," Harbison said.

Angela and Jacquelin Mink cut the power lines to an electric fence around the prison during a storm so the men could escape, according to a previous Press article.

After the fugitives' serve their time, they will be taken back to Alabama to face prison escape charges, Harbison said.


Housing: $53,400 ($60 a day while going through court procedures)

Medical: $20,704

Hospital security: $3,945

Total: $78,049