Escapes From Correctional Custody

  • A New Examination of an Old Phenomenon
  • Bryce Elling Peterson, Adam Fera, Jeff Mellow
  • The Prison Journal, June 2016, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0032885516650873

Escapes from prisons and jails

What is it about?

Escapes from correctional custody are important, but understudied events. This article presents data on escapes from prisons and jails, including the characteristics of individuals who escape, the circumstances surrounding the escape incident, and the characteristics of the facilities from which they escape.

Why is it important?

Escapes are often presented in TV shows, movies, news outlets, and even court and rulings and legislative policies as sensational, inherently dangerous events. However, our study indicates that the majority of escapes occur because of opportunity and are rarely planned, sensational, or violent events.


Dr Bryce E Peterson
Urban Institute

Prison escapes are something that has interested me for a very long time; however, upon entering grad school, I was shocked to see how little research there was on the topic. Despite a lack of data, legislatures and courts have been creating laws and policies on how to punish and deal with people convicted of escapes for decades, often based on misinformation about the inherent dangers associated with escape incidents. This article is one of a few studies my colleagues and I have produced on escapes with the hope of offering empirical information on a largely understudied and misunderstood correctional phenomenon.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Bryce E Peterson