Here’s a very obscure and interesting fact about prison that a lot of people don’t seem to know: it’s hard to escape. I know this must seem mysterious and inscrutable, but it’s true. They built these things to keep people in. Guards, walls, snipers, barbed wire, fences, moats, guard dogs, cameras, floodlights, even the ocean — all designed to keep prisoners inside until the system says otherwise.
Still, there are more escape attempts a year than you might think. Predictably, most of these attempts were made through Dikembe Mutombo in Geico ads. Inevitably, a guard blocks you, wags his finger and plays a charming prank, “Not at my house.” This causes many jailbreak attempts to fail, and there are very bad results at best.
John Dillinger, one of the most famous gangsters in American history, is regarded in equal measure as a vicious mobster and a Robin Hood-esque folk hero. His battles with the law have become mythologized since his death. What is undoubtedly true is that Dillinger was able to escape from prison twice. And it cost him his life.
In March 1934, Dillinger escaped from Lake County Jail in Indiana using a wooden gun he had carved in his cell. By threatening the guards with the fake weapon, he was able to leave the prison easily and without firing a single shot. While that sounds like things didn’t go badly at all, it was this successful escape that caused authorities to reconsider taking Dillinger back alive. In July of that year, less than five months after his escape, Dillinger was shot dead outside Chicago’s Biograph Theater after seeing a movie with his girlfriend and friend.