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When Prison Locks Fail – Daring Escape Attempts

Imagine the clanging of metal bars, the footsteps of guards and the unyielding doors that separate freedom and confinement. Prisons are supposed be impenetrable walls, but there have been many audacious escapes in history that have defied the odds. Take a look at the most incredible prison escapes. They will leave you wondering if Houdini had blood in their veins. Continue reading?

Alcatraz. The Rock. Escape-proof island fortress, surrounded by treacherous seas. Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin were able to accomplish a feat straight from Hollywood in 1962. They used makeshift tools to chip away at the wall of the cell for months. From raincoats they made life jackets and a raft. In June, one night they disappeared into a fog-filled abyss. What happened to these people is still unknown. Did the drown or lived to tell about it? The debate continues.

Remember “El Chapo Guzman”‘s tunnel escape of 2015? The Mexican drug lord had already escaped twice before! His henchmen dug up a mile-long, elaborate tunnel leading directly to his shower stall in Altiplano prison. With lights and ventilation it was even equipped with a motorcycle on wheels for a fast escape. These things are impossible!

It is not only the modern-day criminal masterminds that have been able to slip through prison bars. During World War II, in 1944, more than 70 Allied Prisoners tunneled through Stalag Air III to make what is now known as “The Great Escape.” They spent a whole year digging the tunnels Tom, Dick, Harry with bed boards and cans. They carefully disposed of the dirt by putting it into their trousers, shaking it and distributing it throughout the camp.

Henri Charriere’s saga, also known as Papillon has been immortalized by both print and screen. Charriere had been wrongly convicted, or so he claimed. He tried many escape attempts from French Guiana’s penal colonies before finally succeeding thirteen years later. He jumped from cliffs in shark-infested oceans using coconut bags as flotation devices. His move is either genius or pure madness.

Here’s one closer to you: the Texas Seven breakout of 2000 saw seven inmates overcome guards at Connally Unit, a maximum-security prison, without firing a single bullet! The Texas Seven, who stole uniforms and firearms to travel across Texas, committed various crimes before being captured.

Richard Lee McNair was able to escape federal custody three separate times by using his wit. One time, he was able to mail himself out in an airmailbag. Another time, he slipped into roof ducts as if he were a contortionist!

There are many attempts that fail. Some of them can be downright tragic (or comical, depending on your point of view)–like the time two convicts tried to escape San Quentin in a swimming pool only to end up clinging to rock and shivering violently hours later due hypothermia.

These stories illustrate human resilience in extreme circumstances. The desire for freedom is often what drives people to take extraordinary paths, fraught and perilous but full of hope against impossible odds. The stories serve as a warning & a testament of what people are willing to do in order for them to go beyond any boundaries placed on them, whether justified or not.

Remember these tales the next time you hear “lock him and throw away his key” – they might make you think twice about how far determination combined with creativity can stretch limits we often take for granted…even ones made out of steel concrete.


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