Word from MCC Chicago’s Daring Duo

Previously on the Federal Prison Blog was the story of Kenneth Conley and Joseph “The Second Hand Bandit” Banks, their escape from MCC Chicago last December, and their prompt capture. As the Chicago Sun Times reports, Banks has written the Court in anticipation of sentencing, offering insight into The Not So Great Escape:

“It came unexpected and it happened fast,” Banks, 38, writes, saying it was an “opportunity presenting itself.”

 Banks’ luck began when he was housed in a cell with a “perfect exiting route.”

“It leading into an alley way, a narrow enclosed passageway at ground level serving as a concealment . . .” Banks writes. “As opposed to the unfavorably northeast-facing main entrance where the front desk and secured lobby is situated — rather placing one out in the open and highly exposed.”

But how did Banks and his cellmate, Kenneth Conley, allegedly manage to chip away — undetected — at the concrete beneath their cell window, allowing them to make a hole large enough to squeeze out?

They depended on a noisy construction project on their floor, Banks said, as well as the “talking, singing, yelling and arguing simultaneously” of other inmates, “which would increase to the point where one could hardly hear [oneself] think.”

This rings true, as noise pollution is a chronic problem at federal pretrial holding facilities (i.e., MCCs, MDCs and FDCs). But, of course, Banks doesn’t stop there. He lays blame for his escapades squarely at the feet of the MCC Chicago administration and staff:

Banks chastises MCC guards for failing to see his preparations for the escape.

“Also, had the administration been just a little bit more thorough in their daily/weekly rotational routine shakedowns and inspections . . . they could have easily spotted what [lay] right in plain view before their eyes — overall preventing the entire ordeal from occurring,” Banks writes.

 That is correct. If the institution had been more thorough, it could have prevented Banks from engaging in a “horrific, unimaginable nightmare,” “[a] suicidal one — if I may add.”

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