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Prison Escape - Real Life Prisonbreak

Updated on May 11, 2011

 In this article I would like to explore the unjustified admiration we sometimes feel when we learn of a convicts escape from a high security prison. I believe this feeling originates in the fundamental human desire to escape captivity and possess freedom which we all share, and the escapee's will to act on these instincts.

 I have always been excited when I see a t.v programme which involves an escape, numerous examples of films could include; The Great Escape, ConAir, Escape from Alcatraz, Thick as Thieves and FaceOff. Examples of T.V shows are PrisonBreak obviously(latest show to exploit this topic), Escape from OZ,  Cassanova, The Count of Monte Cristo and Animal Factory.

 Even computer games have been manufactured which involve the user taking the role of escapee, these include PC games such as Rebel: Prison Escape, Alcatraz: Prison Escape and an X-Box game Riddick - Escape from Butcher Bay.

4 Unique Escapees

Lucien Rivard after arrest, picture centre.
Lucien Rivard after arrest, picture centre.
Lucien Rivard 'folk hero or violent mobster?' Petition to re-name montreal Boulivard.
Lucien Rivard 'folk hero or violent mobster?' Petition to re-name montreal Boulivard.

Lucien Rivard

 Lucien Rivard was born in Montreal in around 1915 and soon grew up to be a 'petty crook' involved in drug smuggling and robbery during the 1940's. Later on he moved to Cuba and established connections with well-known crime lords of the time, which enabled him to make a business operating a casino and trafficing Herion. In 1958 he moved back to Canada in the city of Laval, Quebec, here he was to continue his mobster life with a 'Domaine Ideal' dealing drugs and weapons.

Police captured him in 1965 and he was imprisoned at Montreal, where he used a water hose to climb a wall and escape. he eluded police for four months before being caught and extradited in the United States. During his run from the law he wrote a letter to Canadian prime minister Lester Pearson stating 'Life is too short, I don't intend on spending it behind bars'. This lead to suspicions of his possible relations with Canadian government officials.

Billy Hayes

 Billy Hayes was convicted of trying to smuggle hashish out of Istanbul in 1970 and was condemned to 5 years in a turkish prison, which nearing his release was extended to a 30 year life sentance due to the Turkish authorities wanting to make an example of him. Hayes was subject to floggings and hellish conditions during his imprisionment before fooling guards and then paddling 10 miles in a dinghy through severe weather conditions to make it to Greece, dodging soldiers along the way. On arrival back to the United States Hayes became an instant celebrity and his story was published as the film 'Midnight Express'.

Claude Dallas

Claude Dallas was a modern day CowBoy style figure who grew up in rural Morrow County, Ohio in 1950. During the Vietnam war he evaded the obligation and fled west to become a ranch-hand and trapper. He was charged in 1981 for the killings of two game wardens who came to inspect his traps in rural Owyhee County, Idaho. Dallas claimed that while one warden was inspecting his catch, another reached for his gun, so Dallas acted in self defence. No evidence was found for this and due to the execution style shots to both heads of the wardens, he recieved a 30 year sentence. 

Claude Dallas escaped from prison on Easter Sunday 1986, cutting two fences and vanishing into the desert. However later on an enquiry was made to whether the fence story was true, suspecting it was a cover up to hide that dallas outsmarted the guards.

Ralph 'Bucky' Phillips

  Ralph 'Bucky' Phillips was being held at Erie County Correctional Facility, New York in April 2006 for violating the terms of his 90 day parole, he had previously been jailed for 3 counts of burgulary and 2 counts of grand larceny. Afraid that his sentence was going to be extended, Bucky escaped by cutting through corrugated metal roof of the facility's kitchen using a can opener. 

 Bucky was on the run for 4 months but after being named on America's Most Wanted and having a reward of $450,000 for information of his whereabouts, he came out with hand's up at a lightly wooded area of Warren County, Pennsylvania.  He was charged with attempted murder of one State Trooper Sean Brown whilst on the run, and investigations were all allowed to proceed for murder charges of another officer Joseph Longobardo.

 Friends and relatives of Bucky say he was not a violent person and prior to his parole for burgulary, was looking forward to re-establishing a relationship with his daughter and grandchildren. One arguement for his case was that the Police officers were in plain clothes and he was acting in self defence, and also he was forced to sign a confession without counsel. Phillips aquired an almost Folk Hero status during his escape, with business's in his home county selling t-shirts and a song was even written in support of his defiance.

  In conclusion to my article regarding Prison Escapes, I would like to underline how I have tried to present 4 different cases and the circumstances in which the escapees were forced to act on their natural desire to evade authories. I hope the facts and stories included have been of interest and that I have provided unique case examples with unique characters.

I have chosen to end the article with two music videos that provide a 'soundtrack' to the 'Fugatives' stealthy and the harsh conditioned fight for survival.

Paul McCartney & Wings


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