Across US, Over 130 Prison Escapees on the Loose

News ID: 775125 Service: Other Media
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TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Associated Press has found in a coast-to-coast survey that more than 130 US state prison escapees nationwide are listed as on the loose.

Somewhere out there are an admitted killer who crawled through a Texas prison's ventilation ducts, a murderer who apparently escaped from an Indiana institution in a garbage truck, and a Florida convict who got other inmates to put him in a crate at the prison furniture shop and had himself delivered to freedom by truck.

They're among more than 130 state prison escapees across the US who are listed as on the loose, The AP found in its coast-to-coast survey.

Most have been gone for decades, meaning the chances of finding them have dwindled dramatically — that is, if they're even alive.

Still, "you don't forget about them," said former Oklahoma corrections chief James Saffle, who worked for 11 years tracking escaped convicts. "Sometimes, some little action they take will trigger something."

For the past two weeks, up to 800 federal, state and local law enforcement officers have been searching the woods and swamps around a maximum-security state prison in far northern New York for two convicted killers who used power tools to break out. The hunt is still in the early and intensive on-the-ground phase.

After the sightings wane and the dragnets come up empty, some states regularly revisit escape cases, keep an eye on vanished prisoners' associates and check fingerprint databases, death certificates other sources for new leads.

But investigators largely have to hold out hope that they will get a tip out of the blue or that the convict will slip up, perhaps by contacting a relative or getting arrested for another crime.

Successful escapes from secure, fenced prisons are rare. At least 24 states say they have no such prisoners at large.

The US Bureau of Justice Statistics reported about 2,000 state and federal inmates escaped or went off without leave in 2013. But the figure doesn't indicate how many were caught and does not distinguish between breaking out of prison and walking away from work release or other unfenced settings.

The AP asked all states for a current total of escapees from secure, locked state prisons where they were held full time. Some states - including California, the most populous - couldn't immediately provide an answer, and others responded only for recent decades, so the total is almost certainly higher than the 134 the AP counted.

Officials say most of the breakouts are decades old because prisons have become more secure. Some escapees have probably died. One 1955 absconder from Illinois would now be 112. One escape on Alabama's list happened in 1929.

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