Earlier this week in Vermont, a 23-year-old prison inmate, who escaped by cutting through a fence, was recaptured. The Vermont State Police captain commented that this was clearly not a well-thought-out escape when, an hour later, the inmate was spotted by two eyewitnesses and picked up by authorities walking down the street not far from the facility. This is only a recent example of a prison escape plan going awry.
In 2007, despite careful planning involving six pairs of socks, cocoa butter lotion and baby powder, a female inmate in New Mexico did not make it far. She used the socks and lotion to wiggle out of her leg and wrist restraints and used the powder to distract an officer by throwing it in his face, before pushing and running past him. However, she only made it two feet before being pepper-sprayed and restrained. The inmate was on her way to a hearing where she was to be arraigned for making a false report, but was also later charged with the felonies of attempted escape and battery against a police officer.
Earlier this year, during a particularly frigid January in Kentucky, an escaped prisoner turned himself in to escape the single-digit temperatures. Wearing only ripped jeans over a khaki prison jumpsuit in temperatures with a wind chill of 18 below zero, the man walked into a motel and asked the clerk to call the police so that he could go back to prison to serve his time and be out of the arctic air. According to reports, even though he was eligible for parole two months later, he escaped from the minimum security facility and slept in an abandoned house where he found the pair of jeans. Apparently, the extra clothing did not keep the prisoner warm enough and his escape had gone awry. He was also without socks since he had taken them off because they were wet but when he woke up, they were frozen solid. Officials did not originally believe the motel clerk when he made the phone call but they eventually arrived to pick up the inmate and turn him back over to the warm prison.
In 2011, an inmate escaped from the Washington state penitentiary and, still in his prison uniform, made it so far as the woods where he saw a standalone cabin. He knocked on the door and asked to use the telephone. He could not have known, however, that he was knocking on the door of an off-duty officer from the prison where he had just escaped. A fight ensued and, although the inmate was able to escape the grips of the guard in front of the cabin in the woods, he did not make it very far and was eventually apprehended by authorities.
In 2004, four inmates escaped from a Tennessee prison when the doors were accidentally left unlocked by the guards. The men propped open a fire exit with a Bible and made their way to a market to buy more than two cases of beer. They then returned to the jail and shared their purchase with their fellow inmates. Apparently, they were under the assumption that if they returned they would not be charged with the escape. They did not raise suspicions while purchasing the beer because they were dressed in street clothes since the jail did not have enough orange jumpsuits for all of its inmates.
This week’s lame escape attempt in Vermont pales in comparison to some of the more ridiculous prison escapes gone awry in recent years. Perhaps these examples can serve as a reminder to inmates to focus their energies on being model prisoners instead.
Opinion by Jennifer Fernicola Ronay