Prison Escapes seem to capture headlines. The news is following the escape of three dangerous jail escapees, who are still on the loose, in Southern California. Last year we followed the three-week manhunt for convicted killers David Sweat and Richard Matt, who escaped Clinton Correctional Facility, in New York on June 6, 2015.
Jail and Prison Escapes are Rare
Christopher Zoukis, a leading expert in the field of correctional education and founder of www.prisoneducation.com, who is currently incarcerated and being held at FCI Petersburg Medium, Virginia, shares insight on Prison and jail breaks.
“Prison and jail breaks of this nature are exceedingly rare. Even the idea of escaping from prison, which is often in the popular imagination as to what prisoners often think of, is less common than one would think. Within the Federal Bureau of Prisons escapes from secured facilities are very rare, while “walk-offs”, which consist of a minimum-security prisoner (who is housed at a Federal Prison Camp), simply walking away from the prison, are more common.”
2,000 Prison Escapes Each Year
Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) data from 2013, the most recent year available, noted 2,001 counts of “AWOL/escape” among prisoners serving sentences of more than one year, including 22 in New York alone, making it seem more like prisoner escapes are an everyday occurrence in the United States. The Washington Post wrote an article citing that there are more than 2,000 prison escapes each year.
According to Zoukis,
“In terms of the California prison break in particular, such escapes are rare because they are very difficult to effectuate. Most prisoners wouldn’t think escape to be even within the realm of possibility, particularly at the maximum-security level. This is due to fortified perimeters which often include multiple rows of fences, razor wire, and even concrete or brick walls, to say nothing of armed perimeter vehicles. When outsiders, such as prison guards, are involved, this adds a huge additional element of risk considering that merely joking about such a thing with a prison employee can result in severe sanctions, such as being transferred to a more secure prison or simply being thrown in the hole as an added security measure.”
Sometimes, prisoners escape twice.
Take Ted Bundy for example. The infamous serial killer was able to escape police custody twice before his eventual capture in Florida, where his life ended by electrocution. His first escape happened while roaming (with permission) in the court library. He jumped from a second story window and ran. His second escape, December 30, 1977, in Colorado, he called on his girlfriend, Carole Anne Boone, to assist. He had been sawing a hole through his prison cell ceiling and on Chrismas Eve he exited, stole the chief jailor’s clothes and walked out of prison, unnoticed. By the time he was caught two months later, he’d murdered a woman and a girl and assaulted three other women.