The state of Kansas had trouble keeping its inmates behind bars in 2012.

Looking back on the rash of prison escapes in Kansas this year.

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Kansas prison escapes werent up in 2012. But there were still several.
  • Daniel Zender
  • Kansas prison escapes weren't up in 2012. But there were still several.

Eight Kansas prisoners escaped the custody of county jails, halfway houses and the Kansas Department of Corrections this year. Among the escapees were a convicted killer, a child molester and other violent criminals.

The rash of escapes began in the early hours of April 15, when five inmates left two different facilities. In June, two inmates slipped out of the Winfield Correctional Facility in a food truck. Another inmate walked away from a halfway house in July.

A federal inmate absconded from the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth in August. And in October, a child molester being transferred from Virginia to Colorado made a break on the University of Kansas campus, slipping away from Topeka's Security Transport Services.

Eight escapes may seem like a lot, but Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay says it isn't.

"There wasn't necessarily more this year, but there were higher-profile [escapes]," Barclay says.

He adds that the timing of two of the breakouts led to more press. Barclay points to inmate Gary L. Furthmyer's walking away from the Lansing Correctional Facility the same day that four inmates fought their way out of the Ottawa County Detention Center. (The state had contracted with the county to house the inmates due to prison overcrowding).

"I don't know that he [Furthmyer] would have gotten much notice other than he happened to be number five on a single given day," Barclay says.

There were seven escapes in 2011, plus 10 "unauthorized absences" of work-release inmates.

Even if 2012 wasn't full of anomalies, Barclay says the DOC is making changes. The state canceled its contract with the Ottawa County facility. And the department conducted inspections of two other county jails that the state contracts with to house offenders.

"We also instituted more rigorous training standards for the employees of those county jails and enhanced our relationship with those counties," Barclay says. "Not only was there an increased partnership but there was an increase in the safety of the institutions."

Furthermore, Barclay says, his department's record of rounding up escapees is almost perfect. Every Kansas DOC escapee from this year has been apprehended. Four from previous years remain at-large, one dating back to the 1970s and another from the 1980s. Jose Alvaro Ibanez, who escaped in March 2007, was the last to elude Kansas authorities.

Compared with Missouri, however, Kansas has struggled to keep its inmates in check. Chris Cline, Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman, says the Show-Me State experienced no jailbreaks in 2012. The last successful prison break in Missouri came in January 2004. The inmate was found and returned to prison.
Here's a look back at every 2012 prison break in Kansas.

April 15: The Lansing Correctional Facility began the day with a manhunt for Gary L. Furthmyer. The 59-year-old, who was convicted of indecent liberties with a child, walked away from his job in the prison's steam plant around 3 a.m.
This wasn't the first prison break for Furthmyer, who was serving six to 25 years for convictions of molestation and failure to appear. He had previously escaped prison in 1988. Furthmyer eluded authorities for three weeks, the longest of any 2012 escapee, before being apprehended May 9 in Kansas City, Kansas.

About two hours after Furthmyer walked off, four inmates used homemade knives to overpower guards and escape from Ottawa County's jail in Minneapolis, Kansas. Santos Carrera-Morales, Eric James and Drew Wade split up, taking two vehicles and hitting the road. (During one of the carjackings, a man was stabbed in the face.)

Each escapee had a history of violence: Carrera-Morales, 22, was convicted in 2008 of two counts of first-degree murder in Sedgwick County; James, 23, was found guilty in 2009 of three counts of burglary and a count of kidnapping in Anderson County; and Wade, 21, was convicted in 2008 of attempted robbery and attempted battery in Shawnee County.

Wade, who has "785" tattooed on his neck, drove about 270 miles northwest of Ottawa County to North Platte, Nebraska. April 18, he walked into a Wal-Mart and asked the manager to call the police, turning himself in.
James was picked up in Omaha, Nebraska, April 19. A day later, Carrera-Morales was found in Russell, Kansas.
June 16: Around 1 p.m., Robert E. Cook and Frank L. Crutchfield escaped from the Winfield Correctional Facility, between Wichita and the Kansas-Oklahoma border, after stealing a truck that was transporting meals from the kitchen to the dining area. This wasn't the first time that the duo had busted out of prison. In 1983, Cook and Crutchfield were each convicted of aggravated escape in separate incidents.

Cook, 52, and Crutchfield, 48, also jacked a work truck from the city of Douglass before splitting up. A tip led to Crutchfield's capture in Wichita. Cook was picked up in Byers, Kansas, June 25.

July 19: Timothy Whittington, who was serving the remainder of his 103-month sentence (for possession of a short-barreled shotgun) at a Leavenworth halfway house, reported to work at a Kansas City, Kansas, convenience store, where he stole $1,500. He didn't return to the Grossman Community Corrections Center.

Whittington was captured July 25. He pleaded guilty in November to the federal charge of escaping custody.
August 27: The Federal Bureau of Prisons has not said how 49-year-old Joel Rodriguez broke out of the U.S.

Penitentiary in Leavenworth. Rodriguez was serving a 98-month sentence for selling drugs. He has not been found.
October 29: Deon Gregory Routt was being transferred from Virginia to Colorado, when a private prison-transport vehicle stopped in Lawrence. Routt, 22, took off running from security guards at the intersection of 23rd Street and Louisiana. Lawrence police officers chased Routt, convicted in 2011 of sexually assaulting a child, but he slipped away. The next day, Routt was apprehended near KU's Memorial Stadium.

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