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8 Amazing Real-Life Prison Escapes

The problem with convicted criminals escaping prison is that they’re, uh, convicted criminals. Nevertheless, some of their escapes are pretty ingenious.


Luynes Prison and Southern France & Grasse Prison | South-East France | 2001 and 2007
Few inmates have the ambition, skill, or balls to escape from prison once. Well, Pascal Payet did it twice. And he did it with stolen helicopters.

A convicted murderer sentenced to 30 years in France’s Luynes prison, Payet wasn’t fond of high-security living. So in 2001 he convinced some pals on the outside to swoop in and pick him up in a hijacked heli. The plan worked, and he was a free man. He even returned voluntarily two years later with another helicopter to bust out three of his buddies, and it worked again.

Eventually, however, he was caught and another seven years was added to his original sentence. This time, the prison system was one step ahead of Payet and periodically changed his location to avoid any more Hollywood-style prison breaks. But in 2007 a gang of four heavily armed guys hijacked yet another helicopter in Cannes and rerouted it to France’s Grasse prison to stage another chopper escape. Payet again tasted freedom … until he was picked up a few months later in Spain. For now, he remains in custody.

Sarposa Prison | Kandahar, Afghanistan | April 25, 2011
This past April more than 480 inmates, including several Taliban fighters, escaped from Sarposa Prison in Afghanistan through a 1,050-foot tunnel that — according to a statement from the Taliban — took five months to dig.

The escape took place at about 1am, which left a lot of questions. Namely, how the hell did the inmates get out of their cells, and why didn’t prison guards notice construction of a massive hole that was more than three football fields long? The answer, of course, is that the guards helped.

A handful of senior prison officials and the governor have all been arrested in connection with the security breach, and more than 70 inmates have been recaptured. While it was a big embarrassment for Afghan and NATO officials, it wasn’t as big as they one they suffered in 2008 when nearly 900 prisoners escaped from the same facility.

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