By Shirley Hawkins
LOS ANGELES — Quawntay “Bosco” Adams possesses an ingenious mind that masterminded three prison escapes and gained him international attention.
An eighth grade dropout who grew up in Compton, South Los Angeles and Long Beach, Adams, 48, will be the subject of a movie, “Bosco,” scheduled to be released sometime this summer.
The film will be released by Fluke Studios and will feature Aubrey Joseph, Theo Rossi, Thomas Jane, Tyrese Gibson and Vicica Fox. Nicholas Manuel Pino wrote and directed the film.
It tells the story of Adams who was ensnared in the penal system at a young age for selling marijuana. At the age of 14, he was sent to the California Youth Authority.
After an altercation with a guard at the youth authority, Adams was sentenced to serve time at the St. Clair County Jail in Belleville, Illinois.
“I was determined to escape prison because I had just had a newborn daughter,” Adams said. “I never even got a chance to hold her in my arms. I never imagined that I would bring a child into the world and not be able to be a father to her. Just the mere idea of being a deadbeat daddy or loser was destroying me. I had to do something about it.”
Adams escaped twice from St. Clair but was caught both times.
In 2008, he was arrested during a drug sting operation where police had loaded a van with 1,400 pounds of marijuana. They arrested Adams and two accomplices for allegedly trying to drive off with the van.
Adams was sentenced to 35 years for drug trafficking and money laundering.
He was transferred to the Alton City Jail, a maximum security prison in Alton, Illinois. Adams recalls the day he was sentenced to Alton.
As the prison van approached the prison, Adams started counting the bricks outside the prison facility and studying the vents to memorize where they were located.
“I paid attention to every little thing and started forming an escape plan as soon as I walked through the gates,” he recalls.
Because of his two previous escape attempts, Adams was housed in the high-security wing, where every cell was equipped with video surveillance and an intercom. He was watched by guards 24 hours a day.
“The guards would saunter into my cell and tell me not to even think about escaping,” he said. “But I spent most of my days staring at the four walls thinking about different ways to escape.”
Adams immediately noticed that there was no camera over the toilet. He asked a friend from outside the prison to mail him a book and to hide a hacksaw blade inside hoping the guards would not discover it. He received the blade and also started to secretly smuggle in hacksaws confiscated from the prison.
Adams said he kept to himself. He recalled that his second prison escape attempt was thwarted by a prisoner who snitched on him at the last minute.
“There were 18 other prisoners on the cell block where I lived and at least 14 of them were snitches looking for a way to acquire reduced jail time,” he said. “They would have reported me in a second if they knew I was trying to escape.”
Adams began to cut through a steel roof in the ceiling over the toilet which he covered up with soap and toothpaste to hide.
To gain more sawing time, Adams said he attempted to instigate distractions on the cell block so that the prisoners would start talking loudly.
“I would tell a prisoner that the guard was holding up his mail and that would start a heated argument between the guard and the prisoner,” said Adams, who raced to saw a large hole over the toilet when the arguments began.
“The other big thing is that they had rap battles in prison,” he said. “The [rappers] would get really loud which allowed me to keep sawing over the toilet without being heard. I finally cut open a hole that led to an upstairs attic and there were windows up there. I realized that I could break them and throw a rope down the outside wall to escape.”
The second part of his plan was corresponding with a lonely single woman searching for a prison pen pal. The two started talking on the phone.
“An inmate told me there was a way that you could rig the phone and make phone calls from the prison undetected,” Adams said. “I told her I was getting out soon and she agreed to pick me up in her car.”
On the night he planned to escape, Adams smuggled in a prison uniform and water bottles into his cell and placed them under the blankets of his bed so that it appeared that he was asleep. He scrambled down the prison wall with bed sheets he had tied together.
His pen pal was waiting in her car outside the prison. Anticipating that he would walk out the front gates of the prison, she was startled when she saw him shimmy down the outside wall holding on to bed sheets, run to her car and frantically start banging on her car windows.
Frightened and realizing that he was attempting a prison breakout, she reluctantly opened the car door and hurriedly drove him to a motel to hide out.
After six hours of freedom, the prison authorities tracked down the woman and interrogated her. Unable to stand their tirade about the whereabouts of Adams, she finally broke down and revealed Adams’ whereabouts. They handcuffed Adams at the motel and transported him back to prison.
But Adams said he had no plans to grow old and die in prison.
A self-taught “jailhouse lawyer,” Adams had studied criminal law for nearly a decade. He was even successful in helping several wrongly convicted felons obtain their freedom.
In January 2020, Adams discovered a loophole in the law that would change his own story. He fired his court-appointed attorney and represented himself in federal court. He won his case.
Adams was granted release on July 24, 2020 after serving 16 years and six months in prison. On the day of his release, his mother and sister drove him to see his daughter, now 16, for the first time.
Asked about the first thing he desired to eat after being released, he said, “Fresh fruit. I wanted to taste strawberries and watermelon because the fruit is frozen in prison.”
While he was behind bars, Adams had written a book about his prison experience, ”Chasin’ Freedum,” which attracted a lot of attention.
“One day, movie producers in Europe called,” he said. “They wanted to make a documentary about me. I reasoned that if they were going to get paid for filming my story, I might as well get paid too, so I signed their contract.
The documentary is called “Breakout.”
“After the documentary aired, I started receiving messages from people from all over the world — from Europe, Africa and Asia — who were curious about how I escaped prison,” Adams said. “They all wanted to know how an eighth grade dropout from the streets of Compton could be ingenious enough to pull off these escapes.”
Adams is now a motivational speaker who champions the rights of the incarcerated. He is also the CEO of Jailhouse Publishing and is on the board of the I CAN Youth Foundation.
He is excited about the summer release of “Bosco.”
“I hope that my story will inspire other youths, especially the young people in Compton, to continue to pursue their dreams,” he said. “I don’t give up. I’ve always had an ambitious heart and I’ve always been determined. When I want something, I go after it.”
Shirley Hawkins is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers. She can be reached at email@example.com.