Prisoner cuts bars with thread

February 24, 1993|By Newsday

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. -- Every inmate in the Suffolk County Jail here had the same ingredients: a bed sheet, a can of abrasive cleanser for the cell and a leftover plastic cereal bowl.

But who would have thought that, combined, they constituted the recipe for a jailbreak?

Suffolk County Sheriff Patrick Mahoney said yesterday that one enterprising convicted felon made an unsuccessful escape attempt by ripping a sheet into strips that were then twisted and soaked overnight in a bowl with abrasive cleanser and water to make a thread so strong it could saw through steel bars.

"If he had cut through one more set of bars," Sheriff Mahoney said, "we could have had a minimum of 10 inmates, and possibly 20 inmates, escape."

The inmate, whom jail officials declined to identify because they did not want to give him celebrity status within the prison system, had used the abrasive thread to make four separate cuts over a 30-day period in the hardened-steel bars of his cell.

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