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View Full Version : Advice on escaping a prison camp (disabling an electric fence?)



rosehips
06-25-2016, 01:00 AM
My character, Ivarr, is a prisoner in a "reeducation" camp (dystopic fantasy setting). The camp is surrounded by an electric fence with a lethal charge. It is patrolled by robots with man-eating dogs. The doors of the sleeping area are locked at night and during the day the inmates are constantly kept busy with either work or reeducation assemblies. Inmates are not allowed to speak to each other at meal times (or any other time) and punishments are severe. The location of the camp is far north and it's almost winter.

The plan I've been working towards is for Ivarr to make his escape (with a fellow prisoner) when everyone is preoccupied with a public punishment and/or its aftermath (perhaps a riot). I can certainly change that plan if someone has a better idea. I've had this intention for Ivarr to disable the electric fence somehow and climb over, but I'm not finding a lot through Google to help me make that realistic. While he's not an electrician, it wouldn't be too weird for him, due to his background as a criminal, to know a thing or two about circuit boxes and the like. I figured either he'd disable the electric current at the box (though why the box would be accessible on the prison side of the fence is kind of a problem) or he'd find a way to short circuit the fence itself (throw a robot against it?). But from what I can tell the latter would probably require something more elaborate and involving water... I read one answer on Yahoo that suggested putting a metal stake in the ground, pouring water around it, attaching a copper wire to it, a clamp to the wire, and then clamping the fence. I'm thinking Ivarr'd get crispy fried if he did that, though. Plus getting the copper wire and the clamp would be hard for him, though I could probably come up with something there.

Any thoughts? If the clamp/wire/stake idea would actually work, I may choose it, but I wanted to see if folks here thought it would work or just kill him before going with that.

It would be pretty cool if using a metal spoon (in place of the stake?) would somehow work, as I have already established that another inmate steals spoons from the feeding area.

Any advice is very much appreciated.

jclarkdawe
06-25-2016, 01:59 AM
Ever hear of "suicide by prison?" Some inmates decide that they want to die, and basically use the prison to do this. Highest form of this type of suicide is finding someone who wants to commit suicide by death penalty. He kills you and the State kills him. Everybody is happy. More commonly, suicide by prison is done by getting a guard to shoot you.

But your starting point is find someone who wants to commit suicide. He goes for the fence running at full speed, and hopefully gets hung up in the fence as he gets electrocuted. If this doesn't shut off the fence on its own, no problem. Prison will go into lock down and all inmates will need to report to their quarters. However, it's easy to fake a count, so your guy and his buddy hide outside.

The camp is now shut down, the dogs have to be locked up, while the guards shut down the electricity to the fence to remove the body. Focus of the guards is on the body. Advantage for you is the technology is very low tech and it's very easy.

Jim Clark-Dawe

rosehips
06-25-2016, 03:26 AM
He goes for the fence running at full speed, and hopefully gets hung up in the fence as he gets electrocuted. If this doesn't shut off the fence on its own, no problem.

I like the idea--I've already established that the prison is bringing a certain number of folks to suicidal thoughts, so no problem there. Couple of questions. Would the electrical charge hold the body against the fence? Is it possible that if more than one person hit the fence (still thinking about the riot possibility here) that it would be more likely to shut off? And why would the guards shut down the fence if the body didn't get stuck on it?

jclarkdawe
06-25-2016, 04:06 AM
Most prison electric fences use a combination of straight, smooth wire, coiled razor wire, and straight razor wire. The fencing has to work if the power goes off, which can happen even if the prison has a generator. Chances are the clothing will get hung up in it. Lots of loose clothing will help, but clothing might be in short supply for the inmates. But even if the body drops next to the wire, the guards will shut down the fence to remove the body and check for damage. You don't want to work near to that sort of voltage if you have any brains.

Electric workers invest in lots of expensive safety gear, but know the best safety gear is to shut off the power while they work.

Wire cutters can be made by taking two pieces of metal, and grinding a cutting edge on it. You can do the grinding on a cement block (basically the same technique of making a shiv). Takes quite a while, but was done numerous times by POWs during World War II. You then put a hinge into it, which I'll let you figure out. Take two sticks and see if you can figure out how to make them into a pair of scissor-like instrument. You'll create a better story if you work this out. (If you know how to use chopsticks, this will help you.)

Jim Clark-Dawe

SBibb
06-25-2016, 05:11 AM
I don't have anything helpful to add at this point, but I just wanted to chime in and say that there's some really interesting story fodder here. Hadn't thought about the electric fence thing (having to shut it off if someone got caught in it and died) and people working out plans to get both people killed as the end result. (Then again, I also don't read about prisons very often). Anyway, good luck with your plot devising. :-)

frimble3
06-25-2016, 07:05 AM
Another advantage to getting another prisoner to commit suicide-by-fence is that, if your guy used a piece of metal to short-circuit the fence, the guards would be carefully looking at every inch of fence to spot the problem, while in Jclarkdawe's scenario, they can easily see the problem, and so will be concentrating on herding the prisoners away so that they can repair the fence. Most attention will be centered on the body removal.

jclarkdawe
06-25-2016, 05:43 PM
Frimble reminded me of something. I was thinking more along the lines of modern US prison, and yet this would be more like a POW/political prison.

First is there would probably be less oversight over this facility. There would be a lot more barbed and razor wire used than is permitted in modern prisons. You might want to look at some of the pictures from concentration camps in World War II. You'll see how the bodies got hung up.

However, there will be some oversight and documentation. I say removing the bodies, but more is involved. Supervisors are called, pictures are taken, and reports will be written. This isn't just removing the body. There's a lot more involved, all using time.

Second is your place would have motion detectors. These would be on a separate circuit, but very few of your readers would know that. So that the motion detectors get shut off with the electricity would be accepted by nearly all of your readers.

Third would be adding in a jolly gaff. People love shows, and shows are great at distracting people. We watch the magician's right hand while the left hand does the magic. A jolly gaff does the same thing. Here I'd want to get a bunch of inmates screaming and protesting. Then get a couple of fights going in the crowd. Make the guards work to get the inmates back into their cells. Then when everything is calmed down, and the guards are trying to remove the body, an older, respected member leaves his cell (in a disorganized state, it's relatively easy to set up a lock so it can be easily jimmied) and marches out to the scene, protesting the inhumanity. Quoting the Bible works well here. But a good jolly gaff, besides being fun for the participants, helps distract people from watching the wrong hand.

Realize that a modern prison has some additional security aspects that most people aren't aware of, so we can pretend they don't exist. And people have managed to escape through electric fences.

Jim Clark-Dawe

King Neptune
06-25-2016, 06:00 PM
As was stated, people have escaped through electric fences, and one way to handle live wires is to put jumpers around a section. If you boys can get access when no one is watching and get their hands on some pieces of copper wire they could jump around a section or short the hot wire to ground, whichever they prefer. People who work on high tension electrical transmission just short the wire to a ground wir that follows the right of way.

jimmymc
06-25-2016, 08:16 PM
Go under the fence.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Escape

rosehips
06-26-2016, 03:57 AM
Thank you all for the great suggestions!

raelwv
06-26-2016, 05:55 AM
But your starting point is find someone who wants to commit suicide. He goes for the fence running at full speed, and hopefully gets hung up in the fence as he gets electrocuted.

We actually had a client who tried to escape from a federal prison by jumping over a pair of fences topped with razor wire (he got on top of a building, IIRC). He cleared the first one. The second one not so much.

frimble3
06-26-2016, 06:55 AM
We actually had a client who tried to escape from a federal prison by jumping over a pair of fences topped with razor wire (he got on top of a building, IIRC). He cleared the first one. The second one not so much.
Ouch!