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Fox River State Penitentiary is an adult male correctional facillty, located in Joliet, Illinois which is outside of Chicago. Season 1 focuses around Michael gathering a group to break out of the facility. The Penitentiary (commonly called Fox River) is a level one maximum-security prison featured. It is known, like most other maximum security prisons, to be racially divided and to harbour a high amount of corrupt staff. According to Bellick there are 32 COs working there.

Reputation and incidents

Rehabilitation program

During his eighteen years as the warden of Fox River State Penitentiary, Henry Pope established the prison industries (PI) program to allow the prisoners to gain skills training like landscaping and various other industrial occupations. Armed with his beliefs in rehabilitation, Warden Pope also ran an award-winning educational program which helped the inmates gain high school equivalency diplomas and occasionally, bachelor degrees.

Fox River blue print


The two most notable riots which occurred during the incarceration of Michael Scofield, were the race riot in the episode Allen and the lockdown riot in the episodes Riots, Drills and the Devil (Part one and two).

Days before the race riot, the tension between white and black inmates rose as they both prepared discreetly for the inevitable fight. The white supremacists led by T-Bag, a member of the Alliance for Purity, gathered weapons including shanks and a screw which Michael had loosened from the bleachers that had been claimed by T-Bag. The fight broke out during a head count which resulted in many injuries and deaths. The riot was stopped when the guards eventually regained control and Warden Pope initated a lockdown for the following 48 hours.

Soon after, due to the schedule of escape plan, Michael was forced to shut off the air conditioner on the "hottest day in April"[1] in order to cause chaos among the other inmates and in so doing, forcing the guards to put the A-wing in lockdown. T-Bag continuously complained about the heat and eventually caused C.O. Geary to toss his drink in his face and initiated a lockdown. However, T-Bag and his followers refused to return to their cells, resulting in the guards retreating back behind the gates. They started pulling on the bars and later, gained access to the control room which allowed them to free the other prisoners, causing a full-scale riot. The riot was stopped after the Governor of Illinois, Frank Tancredi intervened and sent special units to regain control of the facility.

Escape plans

A few years prior to Michael's arrest in flashback episode Brother's Keeper, Fox River had undergone renovations and the company he worked for as a structural engineer had been delegated the task of re-fitting the prison, which allowed him access to all of the blueprints for the facility.

After Michael's brother, Lincoln Burrows was framed for the murder of Terrence Steadman, brother of then-Vice President Caroline Reynolds, he was convicted and placed on death row at Fox River. Michael eventually developed an escape plan to break his brother out of prison. He committed an armed robbery, then allowed himself to be arrested, pleading no contest to the charges but requesting to an imprisoned at a facility close by - Fox River State Penitentiary. Prior to his arrest, Michael had extensive tattoo work done over his upper body which included the plans for the prison and various other codes (hidden in the artwork, so as not to arouse suspicion). Once inside, he enlisted the aid of several inmates who would prove useful to the escape.

Though the escape attempt suffered a number of setbacks and a number of other inmates forced their way into the escape plan, they eventually successfully escaped over the prison walls. Michael, Lincoln, and the six other escapees would come to be known as "The Fox River Eight" in the second season. They consisted of the following inmates:

Additionally, two other inmates, Charles Westmoreland and Manche Sanchez were involved in the escape plan, though Sanchez was captured, and Westmoreland died of injuries sustained earlier.

The escape of eight felons led to the dismissal of Brad Bellick and the resignation of Warden Henry Pope. Dr. Sara Tancredi was arrested and faced possible charges in aiding the escape, though she was later bailed out by her father, the Governor Frank Tancredi.

Pope was succeeded as Warden of Fox River soon after by Ed Pavelka, a much more hard-line individual who vowed not to make the same perceived mistakes as his predecessor.



Below is a list of staff in Fox River


Prisoners of the Penitentiary includes:

Locations in Fox River

Prison Break

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The stairs opposide each other.

The Game

  • The Stairs

Breakout Kings


Prison Break universe

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

Prison Break - The Conspiracy

Breakout Kings universe


The Fox River title card from Prison Break.
  • The real-life representation of the prison is Joliet Prison.
  • Fox River Penitentiary State beside the show is present in Prison Break - The Conspiracy (Game) and Prison Break - The Mobile Game.
  • In one episode, Fox River is referred to as a Level 1 penitentiary, but in another episode, it is referred to as a Level 5.
  • Although not really "appearing" in season 3, it appeared in the final episode of season 3, thus making it appearing every season.
  • Fox River also appeared in season 4 episode, The Legend he Legend and was also mentioned in this episode.
  • T-Bag is the only character who has escaped twice from Fox River: the first time in Go (episode 21) and the second time in The Bag Man.
    • Ironically enough, T-Bag escaped the second time without help from Michael. However, Michael helped him because he chopped of his hand, which led to this escape.
  • The opposite stairs from cell 40 were replaced by another place where inmates were imprisoned. From there, inmates could see when other inmates were going away.
    • There was also a hallway in which prisoners first not could be, and the way where the showers were are actually replaced for this, although it's on the other side.
      • Actually where the showers were supposed to be, there is now a fence where inmates are, it's not known why actually.
  • Fox River is the only prison to have two prison cards: the first one is, Fox River State Penitentiary, Joliet, Illinois by Prison Break and the second one is Fox River State Penitentiary, Joliet, Ill.
    • It's also the only prison to have two different title cards.
    • It's the only prison who has two different title cards in two different shows.
  • Every time Fox River appears from a bird-perspective, a car can be seen constantly.
  • This is the first prison to appear a full season. The second one is Sona.


Notes and references

External links

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