This mode allows you to play as a prisoner in yours or a random/downloaded steam workshop prison. It was announced to be in Prison Architect Version 1 which was released on October 6th 2015 and was eventually introduced in this version (initial release excluding the previous alphas), and can be accessed through the 'Extras' tab in game menu. The players can select one of their prisons, already downloaded prisons from Steam Workshop or just randomly selected prison from SW. You are a prisoner, and the goal is to escape from prison you have chosen before. Alternatively, you can enter this mode automatically while playing the classic mode due to reaching a certain failure condition. There are multiple ways to achieve the main objective. You can choose a sneaky way of escaping through a tunnel, but you should consider this could take some time, especially in bigger prisons or when your cell is far away from the last wall of that prison. Another and easier way in low and mid security prisons is to fight your way out of prison.
Once you have started a game, you will arrive at the selected prison via prison bus and offload at either the Deliveries Zone or next to the Reception Room depending on what the process is for intake at that particular prison. Once you've gone through Reception or Deliveries you will then be escorted to your cell or holding cell depending on housing availability. Once this is done you will be able to walk around the prison and interact with prisoners and objects as well as steal contraband from some rooms just like any other prisoner.
Unlike other prisoners, your controlled prisoner does not currently have 'needs' and therefore cannot interact with objects that satisfy needs like TVs, Weight Benches, Meals, Showers, Etc. You also cannot work at a prison job or participate in reform programs. The only interaction with objects for now anyway is only attacking which is used to gain 'reputation points' which are then used to upgrade your existing prisoner(s) reputation traits, or recruiting additional prisoners into your personal squadron or gang.
Interaction with other prisoners is slightly more involved. You can either attack a prisoner by left clicking on them, or you can recruit them into your squad (assuming you have enough reputation points) by holding right click and waiting for a red bar to fill up indicating the recruitment is complete.
The object of the mode or 'end game' is to escape the prison as the mode's name implies. Once you have successfully escaped the prison including any currently recruited squad mates you will get a 'Game Over' screen that will then display the amount of points you received for escaping which includes the number of prisoners in your squadron at the time that escaped successfully, as well as the number of victims (deaths) you inflicted during your escape attempt. This will all be tallied up to give you a final score as well as display the time it took you (in game time) to escape the prison. This screen will also appear if your last character or squadmate dies.
Effect of Gangs in Escape Mode 
If gangs are enabled in the prison you are currently playing and one of the gangs has a leader; there is a chance that he may 'recruit' you into his gang if your avatar meets specific conditions like being the same or similar skin color to the recruiting gang, type of hairstyle, etc. Having existing traits will also increase your odds of a gang leader recruiting you. If you are recruited by a gang, the leader will approach your prisoner and your movement will be slowed greatly for a moment, then you'll have the same face tats as the gang leader. Gameplay does not change with the exception that you will have gang tats that match the recruiting gang and will go topless if you misbehave or fight showing the body tats. You currently cannot directly participate in gang activities like zone captures, recruiting new prisoners for the gang, or making plays at this time, (however if you are playing another prisoner that is in your squad, the prisoner(s) in any gangs will do gang activities automatically until you select them again and start moving them.) but that might change in future updates.
If you attack a prisoner that is part of a gang, then any nearby prisoners that are in the same gang will attack you, potentially killing you and resulting in a game over if your not able to take them all out, or they are not stopped by guards, so be wary of attacking prisoners that are in a gang. If you kill a leader of a gang they will all come after you and you will incite a full prison-wide riot especially if the affected gang is a large one.
Also unlike other prisoners, you do not have to pay protection money to enter a area claimed by a gang such as a yard or common room, as the financial aspect in escape mode is at this moment, non-existent, and you are unable to make any money or work a prison job.
Your prisoner will be able to access escape tunnels as well as create them if you have a digging tool such as a wooden pick-axe or a spoon for example. Like other prisoners however you can only start a tunnel under your toilet in your cell. You cannot start digging tunnels in other cells or anywhere else. You can, however, dig up into other cells and locations throughout the prison. If escaping by tunneling, simply just keep digging until you reach the map edge then right click to emerge from the surface to escape. Also, take note that digging items do have a 'durability' and will 'break' after a certain point (usually after digging through several tiles) forcing you to get multiple tools or number of the same item in order to dig out. It's best to store several digging tools in your cell or nearby if you're planning on escaping by digging out. Wooden pick-axes, drills, and screwdrivers are all digging tools that can be 'stolen' from a workshop, while spoons can be stolen from the kitchen.
They are points that are earned by causing trouble such as destroying objects like shower heads, TVs, doors, toilets, etc. As well as either killing or knocking unconscious other prisoners or prison staff. You can use these points to upgrade your existing prisoner with reputation traits, the same as a legendary prisoner can have (once fully upgraded). They can also be used to recruit other prisoners into your personal 'squadron' or 'gang' which can aid you when performing misconduct, tunnelling, and or escaping. These recruited prisoners can then also be upgraded in the same way as your own prisoner making them tougher and deadlier. Lastly these points can be used to 'skip punishments' if and when you are caught and arrested allowing you to spend one reputation point to instantly serve yours and all of your other squad mate's punishments (including lockup and solitary regardless of the length of time) and start back up in your cell (fully healed in most cases) able to continue once more as normal.
Once you recruit a prisoner into your squad, you can switch control between your various squadmates by simply clicking on their photo, allowing you to control anyone prisoner in your squad directly (great for allowing everyone to gather weapons and other contraband). In addition, you can press R to make the prisoners in your squad follow you (or click on "Toggle Follow"). They will copy any misconduct you perform, effectively allowing you to incite a full-blown riot if you have enough prisoners in your squad and have the 'Instigator' trait upgraded in your rap sheets. Press R again to have them stop following you, allowing them to go about their activities and fulfil their needs. If gangs are enabled and if any of your inmates in your squad are in a gang, they will automatically participate in gang-related activities for their gang while you are not currently playing them. If you have more then one prisoner in your squad, you will need to have them all escape or get killed in order to reach the end of the game and receive a score. Consequently, if your starting prisoner dies or escapes, then you may take control of any other prisoners in your squad still alive in the prison, allowing you to continue. Alternatively, clicking the 'x' on the top right corner of each squadmate's photo will dismiss them, and cause the game to end after the last prisoner is dismissed including your starting prisoner.
Escape mode is now entered automatically if you reach the criminal negligence failure condition in the sandbox game. Once you escape your prison you'll receive an endgame score with the option to press 'Esc' to go to the main menu to start a new prison or load an existing one. Once you reached a failure condition, you cannot regain control of your prison again for that save.
-Even if your prisoner's name is flashing 'RELEASED' you will not be able to leave the prison and you will be marked as escaping and dealt with accordingly. You will have to force your way out by tunneling or fighting your way out. (Still bugged as of Update 1.)
-You are able to attack objects and people directly on the other side of walls. It is unknown if this is a bug or intentional
-If you are handcuffed and either you or one of your squadmates is rioting (while shackled) and you press the space bar to 'surrender' or 'end fight' you will keep doubling your reputation points each time you press the space bar effectively creating an exploit. (This appears to have been remedied with Update 1.)
-Another known bug is that sometimes if the game is a bit laggy the area will not load and if you walk into an area that has not loaded in you will be invisible with all the other entities inside the area you cannot see. (Still bugged as of Update 1)
- If you recruit a death row inmate they will not be able to: leave the map, pickup any item, start any fights, recruit anyone, or move faster than a standard inmate that is shackled (unless the "Quick" reputation has been taken, although the boost gained is also much slower). This will result in a softlock if they become your last squad member.
-If your escape tunnel is too big, the game will "lag" and consider you have done misconduct. You will start gaining reputation points and, with time, they can be enormous exceeding 1000. This can happen even outside your tunnel, yet guards, snipers, etc. won't fight you.
- You can create your own inmate
- You have needs
- The army arrives ￼during a riot when all SWAT guards are dead
- You can't spawn with any reputations
- You can go to a payphone to get jobs, coming from "The Boss". All jobs presented by "The Boss" are illegal and will get you in trouble with guards if you are caught.
- There is a dealer, which you can either buy contraband from or sell it to him. If the dealer is killed, he will drop his sunglasses which can then be worn by your prisoner. He will respawn if he is killed.
- Instead of gaining reputation points, you gain EXP. When you gain a level, you can get or upgrade a reputation.
- When you gain levels you unlock space in your gang, which you can recruit other inmates for money.
- On console, the option to command your gang is available. Commands include "Act natural", which your gang will go about their day normally, "extort inmates", where your gang will go around extorting money from other prisoners, "attempt escape", in which your gang will dig a tunnel or use an existing tunnel to escape, and "bodyguard", in which your gang will go around protecting you. There is also the option to command your gang to incite a riot. This command requires at least four crew members.
- You can not take control of any of your gang members. If you escape, the game will end regardless of whether your gang members have escaped or not.
- In the case of a riot, there is the option to bribe the Warden, for a hefty sum of $1800. Guards can also be bribed. If a guard is bribed, they will either excuse any misconduct you participate in or if they are about to punish you, will not punish you.
- In the case that the Warden is bribed, you will achieve a "take over" ending, in which you control the prison. You will not be able to actually control the prison, like in the regular game mode.
- You are able to participate in prison jobs, such as library sorting, laundry, and cleaning. There is an easter egg that when you are ironing clothes for long enough, your character will spaz out, the iron will explode into rubble, and dirty clothing will fly about as if your character had gotten too obsessed with ironing.