One of the amazing facts
circulating the internet at the moment is that it is perfectly legal
to break out of a German prison. Is this a myth, or is it true? The background to all this
is that way back in 1880, German lawmakers decided
that you couldn’t punish people for acting on their natural human desires; and there is no human desire more natural
than the desire to be free. So yes, technically, it is true that it was never made illegal
to break out of prison… …per se.
And it’s that phrase “per se” that tells you there are
more things to take into consideration, because although escaping itself
may not be illegal, it certainly does normally involve
breaking some law or other. So, for example, sawing through
the bars on your window, that constitutes an act of vandalism. Punching a warder in the face
constitutes an act of assault. And giving somebody money
to smuggle you out of prison constitutes an act of bribery. Also, section 120 of the German Penal Code explicitly makes it illegal
to help somebody to escape from prison. So if you want to escape from prison
in Germany absolutely legally, you’re on your own.
And you also have to do it without breaking or stealing anything, and without assaulting or bribing anyone. Good luck on that. And even if you do manage it,
your troubles are still not over, because the authorities can
still catch up with you, they can still take you back to prison, and they can still make you
sit out the remainder of your sentence. Plus, although your escape may not
actually have been illegal, it certainly was against prison regulations; and so you can expect a loss of privileges. So, is it legal to break out of a German prison? Technically, yes. But that fact is not going
to be of any use to anybody at all.