Well – define successful! If we know about a prison break, there’s a good chance that the perpetrators were caught eventually! However, the very fact that anyone dares to try and escape from high-security jails at all is pretty fascinating. After all, the phenomenon inspired a long-running TV series a few years ago. However, in reality – not many prison breaks are as intricate – or are they?
So – what are some of the most successful prison breaks of all time? Do they all involve Shawshank Redemption-style tunnelling? What are some of the more ingenious ways convicts have been able to break free from their captors? Let’s take a look through a few of the most interesting facts about successful prison breaks cases in history, none of which – it’s safe to say – are worth trying in the modern age!
You’ve likely heard of Billy the Kid – he was a famous (or perhaps) infamous outlaw in the Old West, to the extent that he’s something of a mythical figure these days. Billy was infamous for being a slippery customer. In fact, one of the last things he ever did was break free from a Nevadajail. However, he’d only be on the run a few months before the law caught up and silenced him for good – if you get our drift.
The Great Escape is, of course, one of the most popular Golden Era movies of all time. It’s based on a true story! During wartime, 76 prisoners of war under the control of the German Stalag Luft III managed to break away to try and reach Allied forces. Sadly, out of the 76 who dared to escape the POW camp, only three made it to safety.
A more recent prison break, in 1984, involved a breakout from a death row facility in Virginia, USA. On this occasion, as many as six prisoners set to face execution broke free from the Mecklenburg Correctional Center – however, it would only be a few weeks before the high-risk convicts were brought back to the row.
Prison breaks and escapes actually happen more than you think – if you look at statistics across history, around 3% of all prisoners make a break for it. However, consider this stat alongside – only 11% are from high-security jails. Therefore, it’s more likely you’ll see a fraudster on the loose than a murderer, on average. Rest easy!
John Dillinger is possibly one of the most famous prison escape artists of all time. He actually managed to bust free from prison twice, having been incarcerated for bank robberies during the US’ Depression. The first time, he managed to impersonate a police officer and slip away. Second time around, he rounded guards up in his Indiana cell using a fake gun and escaped to Chicago. However, it’s here that he was caught, and met his maker.
You might think that the length of a prison sentence affects how likely it is for someone to try and break free. In fact, only 5% of prison breakers are those on sentences of 25 years or more. Those with a year or less to serve make up 28% of break attempts.
Most escapees from prison are likely to be incarcerated for theft, burglary, or robbery – they make up 44% of breakers. Murderers make up 21%, and rapists 6% – scary statistics.
Texas played host to a colossal manhunt in 2000, when seven convicts successfully broke free from a max-security jail. They performed a cartoonish getaway in that they stole the clothes of prison workers and made a break for it. Believe it or not, it was more than a month and a half before they were brought to justice, and they robbed a few businesses along the way, too.
A ‘successful’ prison break is a relative term. That’s because 59% of all escapees are returned within a day of getting out. 12% of escapees, however, are thought to persist on the road for a year. Even weirder is the fact that around 3% of these escapes have clear plans – they often aren’t premeditated! Not everyone’s Andy Dufrene or Red Redding, it seems – in this day and age of maximum-security prisons, it’s getting harder and harder for breakouts to succeed.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about successful prison breaks that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!