Escape Mode

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As of alpha 20, it is possible for a prison to fail and for the game to enter different failure modes. One of these modes, triggered by allowing too many deaths in a short period of time, allows the player to control a prisoner. It is also possible to enable this mode and control a specific prisoner by manually editing a save file.

Becoming a prisoner

At the moment there are two ways to control your own prisoner. NOTE: The player should make sure to make a backup save of the prison before trying any of the methods below, as the player will not be able to gain control over the prison again.


As explained in the Alpha 20 video from the developers it requires at least 20 deaths two days in a row. The deaths does not have to be inflicted by the staff, as any death counts towards failure. A riot forcing guards to shoot the prisoners may however be the only way to reach the 20 deaths per day.

When the player first get 20 deaths on a single day, he will receive a call from the CEO at midnight. The CEO tells you: "Yesterday was a very dark chapter in the history of this prison. Far too many people lost their lives here." - "Make sure nobody else dies today, or you will face prosecution for criminal negligence." After the call, a timer will pop op on the screen, stating that the player is about to lose and that he have to avoid 20 deaths in the next 12 hours and 5 minutes.

If the player does not meet this requirement from the CEO and another 20 prisoner dies, the player will receive another call from the CEO saying: "Don't say we didn't warn you. You have been found guilty of criminal negligence because of recent events here." - "You will now spend the next ten years in jail as punishment for your crime. Your own jail. Good luck." At this point the players camera will be focused on the players character as he arrives with the prisoners truck. The player is escorted to his own cell and gains full control of the prisoner.

Editing the save file

If the player do not want to struggle with the failure conditions he may edit the save game file. To do this:

  • Navigate to the directory containing your .prison files. This can be done within the game by clicking on the "Open Save Folder" button in the main menu.
  • Use a text editor (such as Notepad for Windows, TextEdit for Mac) to open the file.
  • Find the entry for the prisoner that you want to control. This can be done by searching for the prisoner by name, or more generically by searching on the term "Prisoner" until a prisoner entry is found. You should find a block of code that looks something like this:

BEGIN "[i 110]"    
       Id.i                 110  
       Id.u                 657617  
       Type                 Prisoner  
       SubType              0  
       Pos.x                64.6715  
       Pos.y                50.4506  
       Or.x                 -0.0770595  
       Or.y                 0.997027  
       Vel.x                -0.0264429  
       Vel.y                0.342129  
       Dest.x               62.5000  
       Dest.y               54.5000  
       Energy               41.0000  
       Cell.i               4  
       Cell.u               325366  
       Category             MaxSec  
       BoilingPoint         52.3358              1  
       Gang.timer           1.68260  
       BEGIN Bio        
           Forname              John  
           Surname              Daymond  
           Age                  22.0000  
           BodyScale            1.21405  
           HeadType             Head1  
           Traits               Violent  
           Traits               RisksLife  
           Traits               Lethal  
           Traits               Clever  
           Sentence             22  
           Served               4.00039  
           Parole               18  
           SkinColour           0x9e6329ff  
           BEGIN Convictions 
               Size                 2  
               BEGIN "[i 0]"      Crime AttemptedMurder  Sentence 19  Plea true  Guilty true  END
               BEGIN "[i 1]"      Crime Perjury  Sentence 3  Plea true  Guilty true  END
           BEGIN Family     
               Size                 3  
               BEGIN "[i 0]"      Type Wife  Age 22.5894  BodyType FemaleBody  HeadType FaceWife  BodyScale 0.836556  SkinColour 0xffddb7ff  ClothingColour 0x8747adff  END
               BEGIN "[i 1]"      Type Mother  Age 46.0000  BodyType FemaleBody2  HeadType FaceOldWoman3  BodyScale 1.08675  SkinColour 0x9e6b3aff  ClothingColour 0x77200fff  END
               BEGIN "[i 2]"      Type Father  Age 43.0000  BodyType Prisoner3  HeadType FaceOldMan5  BodyScale 0.983970  SkinColour 0x9e6731ff  ClothingColour 0x613d16ff  END
       BEGIN StatusEffects END
       BEGIN Needs      
           BEGIN Needs      
               Size                 11  
               BEGIN "[i 0]"      id.i 0  id.u 661480  Type Bladder  ActionPoint 57.0000  TimeToAction 600.000  TimeToFailure 720.000  Charge 99.2986  END
               BEGIN "[i 1]"      id.i 1  id.u 661481  Type Bowels  ActionPoint 51.0000  TimeToAction 600.000  TimeToFailure 1440.00  Charge 97.1701  END
               BEGIN "[i 2]"      id.i 2  id.u 661482  Type Sleep  ActionPoint 42.0000  TimeToAction 1440.00  TimeToFailure 1440.00  Charge 37.1458  END
               BEGIN "[i 3]"      id.i 3  id.u 661483  Type Food  ActionPoint 52.0000  TimeToAction 960.000  TimeToFailure 1440.00  Charge 28.2708  END
               BEGIN "[i 4]"      id.i 4  id.u 661484  Type Hygiene  ActionPoint 64.0000  TimeToAction 1440.00  TimeToFailure 1440.00  Charge 63.2222  END
               BEGIN "[i 5]"      id.i 5  id.u 661485  Type Clothing  ActionPoint 49.0000  TimeToAction 4320.00  TimeToFailure 4320.00  Charge 95.0590  END
               BEGIN "[i 6]"      id.i 6  id.u 661486  Type Comfort  ActionPoint 38.0000  TimeToAction 720.000  TimeToFailure 1440.00  Charge 22.2639  END
               BEGIN "[i 7]"      id.i 7  id.u 661487  Type Safety  ActionPoint 56.0000  TimeToAction -360.000  TimeToFailure -360.000  Charge 68.3889  END
               BEGIN "[i 8]"      id.i 8  id.u 661488  Type Freedom  ActionPoint 58.0000  TimeToAction 1440.00  TimeToFailure 1440.00  Charge 3.65278  END
               BEGIN "[i 9]"      id.i 9  id.u 661489  Type Family  ActionPoint 44.0000  TimeToAction 1440.00  TimeToFailure 1440.00  Charge 32.1528  END
               BEGIN "[i 10]"     id.i 10  id.u 661490  Type Recreation  ActionPoint 42.0000  TimeToAction 1440.00  TimeToFailure 1440.00  Charge 2.14583  END
       BEGIN Experience 
           TickTimer            0.766558  
           BEGIN Experience TotalTime 3.00000  Freetime 3.00000  MoodNormal 3.00000  NoCondition 3.00000  END
           BEGIN Results    END
  • Insert the line

AvatarControl        true

somewhere near the top of that block.

  • Save the file and load it in Prison Architect.


  • When a player-controlled prisoner "bumps into" a locked door, a guard will come over and open it, just like you normally see with prisoners who need to get through locked doors. However, this happens even if the door leads somewhere prisoners are not allowed, including outside of the prison, where the prisoner will then be marked as "escaping".
  • When a player-controlled prisoner is marked as "escaping" (such as through the method described above) this flag will not go away even after the prisoner is carried to his cell. Because of this, if guards are equipped with tasers, the player will be tased by any nearby guards immediately upon regaining consciousness. This appears to repeat indefinitely.