A prison escape is a difficult task. CCTV, motion detectors, barred windows, enormous walls, barbed wire, electric fencing, and armed guards are all typical security measures in prisons. Despite these and other difficulties, some prisoners will test the limits of their brains and creativity by trying to escape at any cost. Since the days of the 19th century western outlaws, and prison escapes have been a part of popular culture. It’s sometimes difficult to tell who the good folks are and who the bad guys are, just as it is in Hollywood. Whatever the case may be, we all enjoy a good chase.
Everybody enjoys a good prison escape story. Aren’t we all fans of The Shawshank Redemption? So, let’s take a look at some of history’s most dramatic prison escapes.
Real-Life Prison Escapes of All Time
- The Alcatraz Prison Escape
Frank Lee Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin escaped the infamous Alcatraz on June 11, 1962, in another story that has become a pop-cultural sensation after a film based on it starring Clint Eastwood became a box office hit.
The three achieved this by using a spoon to excavate a tunnel through a concrete wall. They also made paper mâché dummies with hair from the prison’s barber and utilized them to buy time. They then got into the water on a boat made out of more than 50 stolen raincoats. They were never seen or heard from again.
- The Taliban Tunnel
The Mujahedeen began construction of a 1000-foot tunnel in Kandahar in late 2010, to release hundreds of Taliban insurgents. The five-month-long tunnel bypassed government buildings, watchtowers, and razor-wire-topped obstacles, and ran through the concrete floor of an Afghan prison. In less than 30 minutes on April 25, 2011, 480 convicts crawled to freedom.
Before the escape, the Taliban had obtained keys that they used to break into their friends’ cells. Minibusses were waiting on the other side of the tunnel to transport the hundreds of escaped prisoners away from the tightly guarded area. To assist the prison escape, it’s possible that some of the jail guards were either bribed or politically motivated.
- John Dillinger’s Prison Escape
John Herbert Dillinger Jr. was a bank robber from the United States who escaped prison twice during his career. He was caught and imprisoned in Lima in the autumn of 1933 after robbing two banks. He made friends with seasoned criminals who sneaked weaponry into the prison and fled just four days after Dillinger was arrested.
After impersonating Indiana State Prison authorities, the crew returned to the same prison a few days later and released Dillinger. He was caught a year later and confined to Crown Point Jail, a notoriously hard prison. There, Dillinger crafted a piece of wood into a rifle, used it to kidnap 17 men, and then escaped!
- The Great Prison Escape
During World War II, Stalag Luft III was a German-run prisoner-of-war camp that housed captured air force men. In the spring of 1943, plans for a mass escape of hundreds of prisoners were put in motion. Three tunnels were dug 30 feet beneath the surface, dubbed “Tom,” “Dick,” and “Harry.” Fresh air was pumped into the tunnels using pumps. Lights were installed that connected to the prison’s electrical grid. To make the digging process easier, the prisoners built a tiny rail car system.
On March 24, 1944, on a moonless night, 200 convicts attempted to flee. The tunnel opened just short of the tree line and next to a guard tower, rather than leading to a nearby forest. One of the guards noticed the 77th man through the tunnel, and the escape was quickly blocked. Only three prisoners were able to escape. Fifty of the prisoners were killed, while the rest were captured.
- The Mexican Drug Lord Prison Escape
Joaquin Guzmán Loera bribed his guards and climbed into a laundry cart to flee the prison. He was caught again in 2014, but only 17 months later, he fled through a mile-long tunnel built beneath the maximum-security prison’s showers, complete with lighting, ventilation, and motorbike tracks.