They’re in Vermont. No, they’ve made it across the border to Canada. No, wait; their scent’s been picked up by the dogs—they’re hiding out in the back of a sandwich shop, in nearby Cadyville. Apparently, escaped prisoners dig Subway.

What am I talking about? The prison escape, of course! Or should I say, “The Great Escape.”

We’re now entering Day 7, and the news media is sure that the “authorities” are narrowing in on the two escapees, Richard Matt and David Sweat. With hundreds (if not thousands) of law enforcement and even military personnel on the ground in upstate New York, it does seem highly improbable that these two prisoners have managed to remain on the lam as long as they have in a world rife with surveillance.

What’s possibly worse than law enforcement’s tracking skills however, are the media’s penchant for sensationalism and fear-fogging.

Last night, while waiting to watch some of CNN’s documentary on the 1970s, I happened to catch some of Erin Burnett’s program. How did this dolt warrant a news program, on a network that some people still consider a legitimate news source? I mean, I know CNN, NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News (pick anyone, really) are jokes and that journalism is nowhere to be found. But Erin Burnett? Good grief!

The focus of her Thursday Outfront program was squarely on Joyce Mitchell, the prison employee who supposedly had a “relationship” with one of the two escapees. That’s all Burnett and her guests could talk about, including the perfunctory “expert.” In this case, it was some woman named Casey Jordan.

Like many of these types, Jordan—a criminologist—has made a career showing up on pseudo-news programs like Burnett’s and offering little or nothing beyond sensationalism, and her own opinions about the matter at hand. How do I sign up for one of these gigs?

Oh, and the other two guests of Burnett’s? Two ex-prisoners, one of whom actually managed to become a prison guard! I guess if they’re signing ex-cons up to become guards in prisons, it’s no wonder that we’re now in the throes of escape mania.

And of course, everything about this story has to be framed in Hollywood references—in this case, the movie, The Shawshank Redemption. Is it possible to talk about anything in America without bringing it back to Hollywood or TeeVee? You know my answer to that rhetorical question.

Andy and Red, everyone's favorite prisoners.

Andy and Red, everyone’s favorite prisoners.

Well, at least one more day of news coverage, lousy analysis, and more reports of the dogs being onto a new scent, I’m sure.

By the way—inquiring minds want to know; are they in Vermont, or are they hiding out in Cadyville? They can’t be in two places, can they? Meanwhile, Cadyville, remains in lockdown mode.

3 thoughts on “Jailbreak

  1. Why Shawshank Redemption? Because prison is quiet, it’s quaint. Kinda like a small town or a monastery.

    Real prisons, the ones run by corporate bean counters and ex-cons, are brutally violent. No Hollywood movie comes close. Something like 165 unexplained “deaths” in Florida prisons last year, the most corporate prison system in the USA.

    If the prisoner isn’t in solitary slowly losing his marbles, he’s in general population wondering where the next knife or gang rape is coming from, unless he can somehow join a gang. Which is harder, escaping from prison or escaping from a gang?

    Ah, quaint, quiet Shawshank Redemption. Prison’s about redemption, right? Just keep thinking that.

  2. I vacillate between thinking we have become a culture of buffoons, only wanting to laugh and make “light” of everything around us, or that I’m hearing the sound of a very hollow and nervous laughter.

  3. @LP My experience working at a medium security prison back in the 1980s in Indiana was an eye-opening experience for me, and taught me more than enough about the prison-industrial complex. Brutality was the order of most days. I happened to work on the medical side, so I got to see the results of warehousing people in tight quarters. Of course, things have only gotten more draconian now that corrections has embraced the supermax model of incarceration.

    @JAB Buffoons on parade, illustrated aptly by the Keystone Kops routine taking place in upstate New York. It’s now been a week since Matt and Sweat went missing, and each day, it appears that law enforcement and the media know less and less. Oh, they keep trotting out useless information that promotes fear and the illusion that they’re in control, but they really aren’t. How many boots on the ground is it going to take to apprehend the two escapees, and where might the “authorities” direct their focus on tomorrow? And the pathetic media, now fixated on Joyce Mitchell, are making it seem like bringing in some saws and drill bits is all it takes to spring someone from the hoosegow–if that information is in fact true.

    Nationwide, the number of prison escapes has dropped sharply, from 100 inmates per 10,000 in the 1980s to one per 10,000 today. The longest that escaped inmates went without being caught in New York was three days.

    Matt and Sweat have certainly beaten the odds with this one.

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