NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Thousands of Jail Escapees Still on the Loose

March 22, 2002

Every year, several thousand felons bust out of jail. Most are caught within hours. But hundreds, maybe thousands, never are. Says one fugitive hunter, "If you want to run and cut all ties, and you keep your mouth shut and never make a phone call home, the law enforcement agency will finally get tired of looking for you."

  • In the past decade, 34,000 more inmates escaped than were captured, according to the Criminal Justice Institute.
  • The U.S. Marshals Service is tracking 1,580 felons who have escaped since 1993; Tennessee formed a task force in 1997 to track down about 130 escaped convicts; California lists 302.
  • Most were non-violent --- the simply walked away from prison camps, halfway houses of furlough programs, and some have probably returned to prison new charges.

Complete lists of missing convicts are rarely available to the public or investigators, and law enforcement officials in several states said they weren't sure how to find such records.

Source: Todd J. Gillman, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," Dallas Morning News, March 17, 2002.


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