Could Cool Hand Luke Bust out Today?

Article excerpt

Byline: Nick Summers

Not likely. The number of inmates who escape or go AWOL from prison has plummeted--even as the total correctional population has surged 68 percent, to 2.3 million. John Moriarty, inspector-general of the Texas criminal-justice system, explains.

Why the big drop? There's a multitude of reasons. More attention is paid to security; wardens are better educated. Staffing is way up [now]. When the economy is good, the last place people want to work is inside a prison. A lot of it is classification--years ago, they'd file escape charges for walking away from a halfway house. But the numbers have dropped. I can recall one facility having, in the early '80s, 13 escapes in one year. We don't have that systemwide now.

What's in the mind of someone planning an escape? They have a grandiose plan to get to the fence, but a lot of times, once they get there, they don't have much of a plan. Honestly, I think they're getting smarter--they stop and say, "What's the success rate on this? …