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Day 6: Escapes

In researching prison escapes, I have come across a long list of detailed events where prisoners escaped both successfully and unsuccessfully from jail. On several occasions, prisoners escaped from facilities that were of the highest security of their time. Sort of like the Titanic was a ship that would never sink, these jails were places where inmates could supposedly never escape from. Wikipedia features a list of 42 instances where either a single prisoner or a group of prisoners escaped the jails they were housed in.


In my research I have come across two ways that prisoners are assisted in their escape attempts. Either they get outside assistance, or inside assistance. Outside assistance involves a person who is not a prisoner smuggling tools or information inside the prison, probably during a routine visit. The inmate then takes these tools or information and plans out a detailed escape route. Usually, if and when the inmate makes it outside the walls of the prison, there is someone waiting in a car to help them flee the area. Inside assistance is also an option. Inmates and corrections officers, if in a minimal security facility, are in contact with one another 24/7. Sometimes officers become corrupt and decide to help a prisoner escape. Either they educate them with information that will surely help them escape or they turn the other way when they know something is up.

Famous cases I came across included Ted Bundy who escaped from jail twice. Also John Dillinger, whose friends formed a gang and helped him to escape, and managed to do so twice. Another example was Kelly Allen Frank who plotted to kidnap David Letterman’s baby. He stole a truck that belonged to the prison where he was incarcerated in Montana and was at large for six days until authorities recovered the truck and soon after, Frank. More recently, eight inmates who were all charged with violent crimes escaped from Curry County Adult Detention Center in New Mexico on August 24, 2008. Four of them still have not been caught and two of them have been deemed extremely dangerous. One, a convicted killer and the other an alleged murderer.

Prison escapes have been the topic of recent films and TV shows. Shows like Prison Break, Law and Order and other similar shows feature a prisoner or prisoners attempting to escape jail. Additionally, a movie, previously featured on Corrections.com is coming out on July 1st and is called Public Enemies. It details the story of John Dillinger and his life in and out of jail.

My research shows that less than 1% of prisoners in the United States escape from their facility. The only maximum security prison, Supermax, has never even had any escape attempts.

The topic of prison escapes is something that I think people think about occasionally but never really research. If, however, you’ve found anything in your research on this subject that I didn’t cover, please feel free to post a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

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cdonovan Uncategorized, corrections 101 , , ,

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