• M. Spencer Green/AP
  • The rope used by two inmates in this morning’s escape

Federal prison sources say the building’s high-rise design, narrow windows and electronic security equipment will virtually eliminate escapes.

Chicago Defender, September 6, 1975, shortly before the opening of the Metropolitan Correctional Center


Escapes have indeed been rare at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the triangular federal jail at Clark and Van Buren, but two cell mates managed to flee this morning. According to the Tribune, they somehow got through the narrow window in their cell, then used a rope fashioned from bedsheets to climb down the south side of the building at least 15 stories.

The inmates, Jose Banks, 37, and Kenneth Conley, 38, were still in the jail at a 5 AM check, but were missing at 8:45 AM. They were convicted of separate bank robberies recently, and apparently were awaiting sentencing. Banks, known as the “Secondhand Bandit” because he wore thrift-store clothes at some of his robberies, was said to have been one of Chicago’s most prolific bank robbers.