Certain inmates are smart and resourceful enough to plan an escape through an elaborate route and using any makeshift tool to open doors or cut fences.

Others are desperate to get out of the penal system, so they resort to violence for the breakout.

We have heard quite many inmates’ escape stories even from maximum-security prisons; some were eventually recaptured, but there have been few cases where escapees remain at large for many years.

Prisoners serve time for many different crimes, and usually (although not always) good behaviors inside the correctional facilities come with the reward of reduced time or other leniencies.

Those who attempted to escape either had discovered loopholes within the system to sneak away or been in utter despair for their life conditions inside that even the most reckless plan seemed like a good idea.

Among all prison escapes that made significant headlines in the decades gone by, here are some of the most memorable ones.


10 /10 George Edward Wright

Back in 1962, George Edward Right was convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was incarcerated at Leesburg State Prison (Bayside State Prison in Leesburg, New Jersey).

After serving about seven and a half years of his sentence, Wright escaped in 1970. On July 31, 1972, Wright and several accomplices hijacked a Delta airplane and flew to Algiers.

After years of living as a fugitive, he was finally arrested in Portugal on September 26, 2011. He has been living so long in the country that he became a Portuguese officially. Extradition to the United States was denied.

Octavio Hoyos / Shutterstock.com

9 /10 El Chapo

For drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, every arrest never hindered his drug cartel operation. He was first captured in Guatemala in June 1993 and transferred to a maximum-security prison Puente Grande, which became his new base of cartel operation.

He managed to escape in January 2001 with the help of bribed guards. He was recaptured in February 2014 only to escape again from a top-security prison in Mexico through a tunnel in June 2015.

The drug lord was again recaptured on January 8, 2016, and is now serving a life sentence at ADX Florence in Colorado, United States.


8 /10 Willie Sutton

Sentenced to 30 years for robbery and assault, Sutton was first recommitted in June 1931. He escaped in December 1932 by scaling the prison wall.

He re-entered prison in 1934 and was sentenced to 25 – 50 years in Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia. Sutton and 11 other inmates escaped in April 1945, but he was recaptured the same day.

Now a fourth-time offender, he received a life imprisonment sentence and was transferred to Philadelphia County Prison.

Dressed as correctional officers, he escaped again for the third time in February 1947. Sutton was last arrested five years later and released in 1969.


7 /10 Glen Stewart Godwin

While serving a lengthy sentence for murder in Folsom State Prison in California, Glen Stewart Goldwin made a breakout in 1987.

He would be recaptured for drug trafficking in Mexico later that year. Another escape didn’t happen until 1991, when he allegedly murdered a fellow inmate. 

Since December 7, 1996, Glen Stewart Godwin has been on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, considered armed and dangerous.

He remains at large, and the bureau offers a $20,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.


6 /10 Vassilis Palaiokostas

For the kidnapping of Alexander Haitoglou, Vassilis Palaiokostas was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2000.

Palaiokostas escaped his confinement in June 2006 after two of his accomplices used a hijacked helicopter to fly him out of jail. He was recaptured in August 2008.

About five months later, Palaiokostas escaped again by climbing a rope ladder to a helicopter as it flew over the prison courtyard.

In October 2010, he allegedly robbed two banks on the same day. There is currently a €1 million bounty for information leading to his arrest.

GL Archive / Alamy Stock Photo

5 /10 John Dillinger

On September 6, 1924, John Dillinger and an accomplice robbed a grocery store and struck the owner’s head with a cloth-wrapped bolt.

He was sentenced to 10 – 20 years in prison but paroled on May 10, 1933. Almost immediately after his release, Dillinger robbed a bank in Bluffton, Ohio.

He was arrested on September 22, escaped on October 12, and again was involved in multiple bank robberies and murders.

His subsequent arrest happened on January 25, 1934, in Tucson, Arizona, and yet again, he escaped in early March. Dillinger was shot to death by three FBI agents on July 22.

Wikimedia Commons

4 /10 Frank Abagnale

Starting at the age of 15, Frank Abagnale learned how to pose as a teacher, doctor, pilot, attorney, undercover prison inspector, and so on.

Check forgery was a piece of cake for him, too. In 1969, he was finally captured in France. He served time in France and Sweden for six months each, then was deported to the United States, where he received 12 years sentence in federal prison.

Abagnale escaped twice, first while being deported to the United States and second when awaiting trial at the Federal Detention Center in Atlanta in 1971 by posing as an undercover prison inspector.


3 /10 George Rivas Of The Texas 7

A small group of inmates known as The Texas 7 escaped from John B. Connally Unit on December 13, 2000.

The ringleader of the group, George Rivas, was serving his 18 consecutive 15-to-life sentences for multiple counts of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery and one count of burglary of a habitation.

They committed more robberies while out of prison to support themselves. In one of the robberies, a police officer named Aubrey Hawkins was killed.

George Rivas was arrested on January 23, 2001, and sentenced to death on August 29. He was executed on February 29, 2012.


2 /10 Pascal Payet

While serving time for a robbery he had committed in 1997, Pascal Payet escaped from imprisonment in 2001. A helicopter landed on the prison roof and flew him out to freedom. He was recaptured three weeks later.

In July 2007, he managed to escape from prison again using more or less the same scenario as before, on a hijacked helicopter.

Payet was recaptured in Spain several months later, transferred to French custody, and is now imprisoned secretly.

His original 30-year sentence was more than doubled thanks to the prison breaks and the numerous crimes he committed while a fugitive.

Wikimedia Commons

1 /10 Ted Bundy

Throughout his criminal career, Ted Bundy escaped from prison twice in 1977. In between recaptures, he committed more assaults, including at least three murders.

His first escape was in June 1977 when he was indicted on aggravated kidnapping of a young Colorado woman. Bundy jumped out a window while in custody but was recaptured six days later.

In December, he made another breakout from jail while awaiting trial by climbing the crawl space.

Bundy was recaptured on February 15, 1978. He was sentenced to death and executed in the electric chair at Florida State Prison on January 24, 1989.

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