Jimmy Causey and the Other Most Notorious Prison Breaks of All Time

How inmates managed to break out of Alcatraz and other maximum security prisons.

July 6, 2017 10:37 am
The Most Notorious Prison Breaks of All Time
(David McNew/Getty Images)

Watching the news this week felt like a screening of the classic Clint Eastwood movie, Escape From Alcatraz. When 46-year-old Jimmy Causey, who had been serving a life sentence in a maximum-security South Carolina prison, has escaped his confines for a second time.

RCL wanted to look back at how the lawless have attempted to taste freedom the hard way. Here are five examples, including a more in-depth look at the Alcatraz and Causey cases.

Most Notorious Prison Breaks of All Time
Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman sitting outside on the benches playing checkers and talking in a scene from the film ‘The Shawshank Redemption,’ 1994. (Castle Rock Entertainment/Getty Images)

Frank Freshwater – Ohio State Reformatory (1959) – This is about as close to nonfiction as The Shawshank Redemption will ever get. As noted by NBC back in 2015, Freshwater was incarcerated at the Ohio prison where the cult-classic would later be filmed. After being moved to a work farm amidst a 20-year sentence, Freshwater skipped town. He was later caught after 56 years on the run in Florida.

The Most Notorious Prison Breaks of All Time
Mug shots of three prisoners that made a rare escape from Alcatraz Island. From left to right: Clarence Anglin, John William Anglin, and Frank Lee. (Bettmann/Contributor)

Clarence Anglin, John Anglin, and Frank Morris – Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary (1962) – The real-life prison break that made for a great Hollywood blockbuster is the only known successful escape from the infamous prison, which was decommissioned shortly thereafter. The trio constructed papier-mâché likenesses to stuff in their beds (see Jimmy Causey’s entry below), slipped out of an unused area of the main building, and hit the bay in a prison-made raft. It’s unclear whether any of the men survived.

The Most Notorious Prison Breaks of All Time
The Mecklenburg County Correctional Center, just outside of Boydton, Va. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

James Briley, Linwood Briley, Derick L. Peterson, Willie Leroy Jones, Lem D. Tuggle, and Earl Clanton Jr. – Mecklenburg Correctional Center (1984) – At this Virginia prison, six Death Row inmates managed to take the entire facility hostage, per the Los Angeles Times. Faking a bomb scare on Death Row and tricking authorities into bringing a van along to remove the explosive, the sextet of murderers wore riot gear, pretending to put out the bomb with fire extinguishers. They all jumped in the van and sped away. (All have since been caught and executed.)

The Most Notorious Prison Breaks of All Time
Mugshots of wanted armed convicts, who escaped from Connally Unit Prison, December 13, 2000. The convicts are top row left to right: Joseph C. Garcia, Randy Ethan Halprin, Larry Jame Harper and Patrick Henry Murphy, Jr. Bottom row, left to right: Donald Keith Newbury, George Rivas and Michael Anthony Rodriguez. (Texas Department of Corrections/Newsmakers)

Larry Harper, Michael Rodriguez, George Rivas, David Newbury, Joseph Garcia, Randy Halprin, and Patrick Murphy Jr. (a.k.a. “The Texas 7”) – Connally Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (2000) – Rivas was the mastermind of the plot, which came to fruition on December 13, 2000. Per the Dallas Morning News, after Rivas overpowered some guards, the seven inmates stole weapons out of the prison armory and drove off. It took a month to apprehend the seven, and during that time, they launched a crime spree that included robbing a sporting goods store and murdering a police officer. One of the escapees, Larry Harper, committed suicide rather than surrender.

The Most Notorious Prison Breaks of All Time
(David McNew/Getty Images)

Jimmy Causey – Lieber and Broad River Correctional Institutions (2005-17)  – As we mentioned above, Causey has managed to break out twice. (He was serving a life sentence for kidnapping his attorney, who represented him twice before.) According to The Post and Courier, Causey first broke out in ’05 with another inmate, hiding in a dumpster that was later taken out by a garbage truck. To avoid suspicion in their cells, they made heads out of toilet paper rolls to stuff in their beds. He’s currently still on the run for the second escape.

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