As long as there have been prisons, there have been prisoners trying to escape. From tunnels to helicopters, it’s amazing what people come up to escape the clink. And while there’s plenty of great prison break stories out there, we put together a list that’s almost criminal. (Yeah, we went there.) Here are 25 Unbelievable Prison Escapes That Actually Worked.
The Great Escape
We’re going to kick off this list with quite a doozy, the escape from Nazi Germany prisoner of war camp, Stalag Luft, also known as The Great Escape. The idea came from Squadron Leader Roger Bushell to dig three tunnels named Tom, Dick, and Harry, in hopes one would eventually lead out. Utilizing 600 men, they dug very small tunnels 30 feet deep just enough to get men to crawl through. Eventually, Harry was successfully completed, and 76 prisoners crawled to freedom. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. Of those that escaped, only three made it to safety.
In 1941, Sławomir Rawicz was imprisoned in a Russian gulag. Escaping with six others and traveling on foot south through the Gobi Desert, Tibet, and the Himalayas, he finally reached safety in India. Except, maybe none of that really happened. Years later, a reporter indicated Soviet documents proved Rawicz was at their gulag, and that he was released to an Iranian refugee camp due to a 1942 amnesty program. School is still out about if he falsified his account, but yeah, it doesn’t look good.
Maze Prison Escape
Considered one of the most escape-proof prisons in Europe, Her Majesty’s Maze Prison housed many Provisional Irish Republican Army, or IRA, soldiers. In 1983, Bobby Storey and Gerry Kelly, two IRA inmates, watched for security weaknesses and finally took advantage of them, taking over part of the prison, dressing up as guards, and taking hostages. Overall, 35 prisoners escaped, the biggest prison breakout in British history.
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is a major Mexican drug lord responsible for smuggling tons of cocaine into the United States. In 2001, he was in a maximum security prison in Mexico where he held significant influence over everyone, including the jail director. Using that influence, he escaped and was on the run for almost thirteen years before being captured again. They didn’t hold him long, though. He escaped a second time, finding a tunnel that brought him to a construction site a little outside the prison. Of course, he was caught again and has yet to escape a third time.
Kingman Arizona State Prison Escape
All violent prisoners at Kingman Arizona State Prison, John McCluskey, Daniel Renwick, and Tracy Province worked with McClusky’s first cousin Casslyn Mae Welch to break them out. On July 30th 2010, she parked in the back of the prison, threw wire cutters over the fence and other tools to help them escape. They cut a hole through the fence and made a run for it. Renwick took the getaway care while the others walked 8 miles on foot and hijacked a truck. Renwick was arrested first and in less than a month the rest were arrested as well. Arizona officials concluded that it was because of prison negligence that they were allowed to leave so easily.
Feature Image: Shutterstock, 25. Mack Lundy via flickr. CC BY 2.0 , 24. Gerald Praschl, The fence at the old GULag in Perm-36, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 23. Patrick McAleer, H-block corridor, CC BY-SA 2.5 , 22. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 21. Xugardust, Arizona Prison, CC BY-SA 2.0 , 20. ArmandoCarristi, Henri Charrière, CC BY-SA 4.0 , 19. Bob Jagendorf, Prison cell block, CC BY 2.0
18. Mark via flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0 , 17. D Ramey Logan, Alcatraz Island photo D Ramey Logan, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 16. No machine-readable author provided. Olaf1541 assumed (based on copyright claims)., Robin Hood Memorial, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 15. Americasroof, Leavenworth-prison, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 14. Pixabay.com (Public Domain) , 13. m01229 via flickr. CC BY 2.0 , 12. Abagnale & Associates, Frank W. Abagnale in 2008, CC BY-SA 4.0 , 11. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain) , 10. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain) , 9. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain) , 8. Gordon Incorporated, Security Ceilings – Ouachita River Correctional Unit, Malvern, AR, CC BY 2.0 , 7. Bubby1124, Clintoncorrectional, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 6. Karen Neoh, Logo of Americas Most Wanted (11199507225), CC BY 2.0 , 5. Wikipedia commons.com (Public Domain) , 4. Pixabay.com (Public Domain) , 3. Lowgoz (talk) (Uploads), Colditz Castle 2011, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 2. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain) , 1. http://www.dr.dk, Brian Bo Larsen 2, CC BY-SA 4.0