The one big reason New York’s prison break is nothing like ‘Shawshank Redemption’


The daring escape of two murderers from a maximum-security prison in New York is drawing comparisons to “The Shawshank Redemption,” the 1994 drama starring Tim Robbins as an inmate who spends years plotting a jailbreak and finally pulls it off.

As media outlets and Twitter users have noted, the boldness of the escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, about 20 miles south of the Canadian border, seems ripped from a Hollywood movie.

Fugitives Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, placed dummies in their beds so guards would think they were sleeping; meanwhile the two men used power tools to cut through steel plates and pipes, break through a brick wall and remove a secured manhole cover on their way out. They remained on the loose Monday afternoon.


In “The Shawshank Redemption,” which Frank Darabont directed and adapted from a Stephen King novel, Robbins’ Andy Dufresne similarly tunneled his way out of a state penitentiary using a rock hammer, with a poster of Rita Hayworth covering the opening.

The New York escapees’ use of dummies is also reminiscent of “Escape From Alcatraz,” the Clint Eastwood movie based on a notorious 1962 breakout.

There is, however, a major difference that’s perhaps been downplayed amid the movie comparisons: Dufresne is a good guy in “Shawshank.” He’s a sympathetic character because, it’s strongly implied in the film, he’s been wrongly convicted of murdering his wife and her lover.

At one point in the movie, a fellow inmate arrives with information that could potentially clear Dufresne’s name, but the crooked warden has the man killed before he has the chance. And after Dufresne ultimately busts out (and delivers the warden his comeuppance), he retires to a sleepy fishing town in Mexico to live out the rest of his days in peace.

No such ambiguity seems to be associated with Sweat or Matt, the former of whom pleaded guilty to killing a sheriff’s deputy in 2002 and the latter of whom was convicted of murder and kidnapping for beating a man to death in 1997.

“These are dangerous individuals,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a conference call Sunday. “These are killers; they are murderers. There has never been a question about the crimes they committed, and they are now on the loose.”


In other words, their escape is only like the “Shawshank Redemption” minus the redemption.

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