On June 6 this summer, staff in New York's maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility discovered two inmates had gone missing, launching a weeks-long, $23 million manhunt that ended in law enforcement killing one of the escapees and wounding the other.
While the chase played out in real time on national news, an inmate named Patrick Buswell escaped from Stillwater prison’s minimum-security unit, albeit in much less cinematic fashion: When no one was looking, he walked away.
Buswell’s fugitive status didn’t last long. Within the week, law enforcement found him holed up near Holcombe, Wisconsin, and dragged him back to prison.
For this week’s installment of Random Acts of Data, we’re looking at how frequently inmates escape from Minnesota prisons and how long they last on the lam.
The short answer: not often, not long.
Since 2005, only 11 inmates have escaped from Minnesota correctional facilities — all of which have been walkaways, as in the case of Buswell.
|Inmate||Prison facility||Type of prison||Escaped||Apprehended|
|Terrance Adams||Stillwater||Minimum security||August 13, 2005||August 16, 2005|
|Wade Pelvit||Willow River||Early release program||August 26, 2005||August 26, 2005|
|Jeremiah Roberts||Stillwater||Work crew||April 19, 2006||April 19, 2006|
|Wayne Jones||Stillwater||Minimum security||December 11, 2006||December 11, 2006|
|Jun Vang||Lino Lakes||Minimum security||September 9, 2007||September 15, 2007|
|Jason Jackson||Lino Lakes||Work crew||August 14, 2008||August 18, 2008|
|Reric Joens||Lino Lakes||Work crew||May 8, 2009||May 12, 2009|
|Lowan Taylor||Stillwater||Work crew||January 11, 2013||January 15, 2013|
|Angel Benjamin||Shakopee Female Facility||(No fence)||December 2, 2013||December 2, 2013|
|Jeffrey Weidell||Stillwater||Work crew||April 7, 2015||April 11, 2015|
|Patrick Buswell||Stillwater||Minimum security||June 12, 2015||June 16, 2015|
Jun Vang holds the record for the longest time on the run in that time period. In 2007, Vang, who was serving the tail end of an attempted-murder sentence, sneaked off the grounds of Lino Lakes prison and stayed free for a whopping seven days. The incident stirred controversy in the suburban town because prison officials didn’t inform the public of Vang’s escape for 45 hours.
The walkaways have led some to wonder if even minimum-security facilities should invest in more fences. Two years ago, when Angel Benjamin liberated herself from the Shakopee prison, only a hedge stood between her and an elementary school. Shakopee cops apprehended Benjamin in a mere 23 minutes after learning of the escape, making her one of four people who didn’t last a full day as a fugitive. Earlier this year, Shakopee started construction on a new fence around the facility.
Random Acts of Data is an occasional series by MinnPost reporter Andy Mannix and news editor Tom Nehil. The goal: to answer questions about all things Minnesota using the vast amount of data at our disposal. If you have a question you’re wondering about, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line, “Random Acts of Data.”