Prisoner Escapes Custody During Work Detail, Philadelphia Police Launch Search

Prisoner Escapes Custody During Work Detail, Philadelphia Police Launch Search

Gino Hagenkotter, a 34-year-old inmate, flees Philadelphia prison while on work assignment, prompting a city-wide manhunt.

Philadelphia police are on a manhunt for Gino Hagenkotter, a 34-year-old inmate who escaped custody while on a work detail assignment. Hagenkotter, who was serving time at the Riverside Correctional Facility, disappeared from the orchard behind the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Facility (PICC) shortly before noon on Thursday. The incident has raised questions about prison security and the effectiveness of work release programs.

The Escape

According to Philadelphia Prisons Commissioner Blanche Carney, Hagenkotter requested permission to use the bathroom during his work detail and was allowed to do so. However, he never returned, prompting the officer to investigate and discover that Hagenkotter had left the compound. The officer immediately reported the escape at 12:05 p.m. Surveillance video revealed that Hagenkotter had climbed a fence and escaped through the facility’s sanitation yard around 11:45 a.m.

Lockdown and Search Efforts

Following the escape, all Philadelphia prison facilities were secured and placed on lockdown by 12:20 p.m. Philadelphia police were notified, and officers, along with K-9 units, set up a perimeter in the area. However, investigators believe that Hagenkotter had already moved beyond the perimeter by the time they arrived. The U.S. Marshals are assisting in the search and checking all of Hagenkotter’s known addresses.

Background on Hagenkotter

Court documents reveal that Hagenkotter had been in custody at the Bucks County Prison on retail theft charges in 2019 before being transferred to the Riverside Correctional Facility in April 2023. He had violated his parole on several drug, retail theft, and burglary charges. Hagenkotter was eligible for an outside work assignment due to the nature of his sentence. However, the Philadelphia Department of Prisons emphasized that he should not be approached and urged anyone who sees him to immediately call the police.

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Possible Motive for Escape

Commissioner Carney explained that Hagenkotter was originally scheduled for release on Thursday for a court-ordered program. However, his release was postponed to April 26, 2024, after officials discovered a retail theft incident in Bucks County that he was involved in. Carney speculated that this delayed release date may have influenced Hagenkotter’s decision to escape. She stated, “We believe that he was influenced by the fact he was aware that he was going to be released to a program. The Bucks County matter was retail theft. And we believe that that played a part in his decision to escape.”

Impact on the Community

The escape prompted a shelter-in-place order at the New Foundations Charter School on Torresdale Avenue, as a precautionary measure. Parents were notified that the escaped prisoner was part of a work-release program and was not deemed an immediate danger to the community. However, the school decided to follow the advice of local authorities and keep students inside the building for the remainder of the day. Commissioner Carney assured that surrounding schools were promptly informed of the situation.


The escape of Gino Hagenkotter has raised concerns about prison security and the effectiveness of work release programs in Philadelphia. The incident highlights the need for enhanced protocols to prevent future escapes and ensure the safety of both inmates and the community. As the manhunt continues, law enforcement agencies are working tirelessly to locate Hagenkotter and bring him back into custody. The outcome of this search will undoubtedly shape discussions around prison reform and the management of inmate work assignments in the future.

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