Preventing escapes during prisoner transportation

When discussing prisoner transportations, much is said about how you prepare your vehicle, how you search the prisoner, and how the prisoner is restrained. Unfortunately, very little is said about your mental preparation during prisoner transportation – except that you have to "remain alert."

Let's spend some time on improving your mental preparation for successfully and safely conducting a prisoner transport by focusing on mental states of you and the prisoner. Specifically, we need to focus on alertness, anxiety, and readiness as the prisoner transportation unfolds.

This is not new information but rather information that we "learn and lose" as each new generation of officer enters the arena. Over 20 years ago, the U.S. Marshals Office researched the question of when do most escape attempts during prisoner transportation occur. The results may surprise you until you really think about it. 

The answer is most escape attempts occur near the end of prisoner transportations. Why? The reason is simple: At the beginning of the prisoner transportation, the officers are usually alert because they are leaving the safety of a relative secured area a courthouse, the hospital, or a correctional facility and entering the unknown. So, their guard is up and they are ready for trouble. 

The prisoner, on the other hand, is often relaxed because they have left a secured area and entering the relative freedom of a trip form point A to point B. As the vehicle gets closer to its destination, the officer get more relaxed as they get closer to a return to the safety of a secured facility while the prisoner gets more agitated as they near their place of confinement. The prisoner realizes that escape will be more difficult from this new location.

Taking this into account, it's not surprising that most escape attempts occur near the end of the prisoner transportation. It's near the end where officers have started to unwind and the prisoner is at the height of his/her anxiety level. 

Over my career, in reviewing several escape attempt incidents, and I have found that escape attempts almost universally occur near the end of prisoner transports.

You must stay constantly vigilant during the entire prisoner transportation. Besides the obvious things — ensuring the restraints are properly secured, etc. — it is vitally important to not let your mental state lax until the prisoner transportation is completely finish. No matter how close it may seem, "Miller time" begins after you have dropped off the prisoner, left the turnover area, gotten out of your uniform, and arrived at a safe place.   

Caption top, right: Brian Nichols, center, the suspect in a crime spree that left a judge and three others dead, appears in court at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, Tuesday, March 15, 2005. (AP Photo/Ric Feld)
Left: Associated Press File Photo

About the author

Experience, expertise and communication skills are the criteria by which a defensive tactics instructor is judged. By these measures, Gary T. Klugiewicz is recognized as one of the nation's leading control systems analysts specializing in the Use of Force.

Gary is the training director for Vistelar (, a global consulting & training firm that addresses the entire spectrum of human conflict. His Verbal Defense & Influence ( training program is used worldwide in a variety of disciplines to teach non-escalation of conflict and reduce the need for de-escalation tactics. Gary specializes in transforming theory (“fire talks”) into reality (“fire drills”) through the use of Emotionally Safe Performance-Driven Instruction.

He retired from the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department in 2001 after 25 years of service, during which he rose to the rank of captain. As a former Street Survival® Seminar instructor and internationally known defensive tactics instructor, Gary’s training has impacted literally hundreds of thousands of officers.

Gary developed the Principles of Subject Control (P.O.S.C.®) for Correctional Personnel that have been adopted by the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Training & Standards Bureau and Wisconsin Department of Corrections for their correctional training programs. He has been instrumental in the development of Correctional Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) training programs throughout the United States. Gary has revolutionized crisis intervention training through the development of the “First Responder Point-of-Impact Crisis Intervention (PICI) Training Programs for Persons with Special Needs” training program. PICI focuses on keeping people safe through a system of time-tested crisis intervention tactics and the development of Special Needs Strategies.

Gary Klugiewicz has spent more than 30 years as a line officer, supervisor, and a control systems designer. He currently serves as a defensive tactics consultant for numerous police and correctional agencies throughout the United States.

Request product info from top Corrections Restraints companies

Thank You!

= required Error occured while sending data

By submitting your information, you agree to be contacted by the selected vendor(s).

Join the discussion

logo for print