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PLN editor quoted in article about prison escapes

BBC, March 19, 2013.
PLN editor quoted in article about prison escapes - BBC 2013

Great escapes: The most daring prison breakouts

By Tara McKelvey BBC News, Washington

19 March, 2013

It was a brazen move - inmates Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau and Danny Provencal escaped from St-Jerome prison near Montreal, Canada, in a helicopter.

Soon afterwards, though, they were both recaptured.

Still, they got out, joining an elite group of escapees from around the world.

Among the roughly 1,500 medium- and maximum-security facilities in the US, for example, only 50 people manage to flee each year, says Paul Wright, editor of Prison Legal News.

"One thing the US does well is locking people up and keeping them locked up," Wright says.

Sometimes people do break out - though usually in less dramatic fashion than in the Canadian incident.

Arnett Gaston, a former commanding officer at Rikers Island prison in New York who also served as director of corrections in Prince George's County, Maryland, recalls a night in the 1970s when seven prisoners climbed out of the windows of a Maryland facility.

"I got a call at 02:00," he says. At the time he lived a 20-minute drive from the prison. "I immediately went in," he says. "I made it in less than 10."

The prisoners were recaptured - and the prison beefed up its security.

Former prisoner Stephen Richards says he knew convicts who had escaped from their minimum-security prison in Kansas in the 1980s.

"They would iron their clothes and pack their knapsack," says Richards, now a criminologist at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. "Then they would walk off."

If they are lucky, they remain free. Escaping from prison is a felony in the US, and prisoners who have escaped serve longer sentences. In Mexico, though, escaped convicts are not penalised further - they are simply put back behind bars.

"They're like, 'Well, everyone wants to be free,'" says Wright.



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