Prison Escape: Is it legal?

Featured Image: Prison. Turns out, it’s legal to escape it in Germany.

1 April 2019, London, UK – If you live in most countries, including the UK and the US, you can have at least ten years added to your sentence if you get put back into prison after having escaped. But not in Germany. Why? Because in Germany and a few other countries, you cannot be busted for escaping prison. It sounds ridiculous but it actually makes quite a lot of sense.

Prisons have always been around – they started with the Mesopotamians about 5,000 years ago. Prisons were not actually used as a punishment until 19th century England. Before then, prisons were used as a temporary residence for persons awaiting trial or execution. Nowadays, prisons are almost universally used as a form of punishment, but throughout history, the idea has been the same – you are not supposed to leave the prison. We can say that with virtually 100% accuracy.

But even if you’re not supposed to escape, it does not necessarily have to carry a criminal penalty. Which brings us to our main topic. Why breaking out of prison is legal in Germany. Because, back in the 19th century, the Reichstag of the German Empire determined that all people have the right to seek freedom and self liberation, which means that nobody can be punished for escaping prison. That law is still on the books in Germany, and three other countries – Austria, Belgium, and Mexico – have taken the same position. That is, the right of the person to seek freedom cannot be infringed by the government. It could even be argued that the famous passage in the Declaration of independence, “… that they [the people] are endowed by their Creator with… Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, invalidates punishment for prison escape because the right to seek liberty is endowed by the people’s Creator.

Don’t get too excited, though, because there is some fine print that the rebels have a tendency to overlook. That huge fine print is the difference between the right to have freedom and the right to seek freedom. Anyone has the right to seek freedom, in this case escaping prison, but nobody has the right to have freedom, which means that escapees are still subject to:

  • Further Apprehension: If you escape prison in a country where it’s legal to do so, that doesn’t mean your sentence goes away. You can still be recaptured and put back into prison. The legalisation of prison escape only means that the authorities cannot add extra time to your sentence for escaping prison. That’s it. The government does not absolve you of past guilt if you successfully escape prison.
  • Breaking Prison Rules: Even though it’s legal to escape prison, it’s still a violation of prison regulation, which means that you are less likely to be approved for parole. And the most important caveat…
  • Further Crime: If you commit any crimes while escaping prison, such as assaulting a guard, destroying prison property, stealing a car, etc., you can still be convicted and sent to prison for those things.

Maybe not exactly as much as a paradise for outlaws and rebels as things initially seem to be, but the four countries where prison escape is legal (Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Mexico) all have the same idea in mind. They believe that when you commit a crime, you are surrendering your right to have freedom, which is why the government can put you in prison in the first place. But on the other hand, the right to seek freedom cannot be surrendered and it cannot be taken away by anyone, which means that escaping prison cannot be considered a crime in those four countries.

So yeah, if you’re going to commit a felony, do it in Germany, Austria, Belgium, or Mexico. If you’re slick and you don’t commit any crimes while you do it, you can get away with escape. And live the rest of your live in freedom.

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