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Category:
Prisons

Hitler tamed by prison

Epic prison board fail: This guy, Hitler. Prison has changed his ways. He won't cause any trouble now!


From The New York Times - Dec 21, 1924.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Mon Jan 13, 2014 | Comments (9)
Category: Predictions, Prisons, 1920's

Prison Pennants

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With USA incarceration rates at an all-time high, surely there's a market for these nowadays?

From the 1950 catalog.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Mon Sep 09, 2013 | Comments (4)
Category: Johnson Smith Catalog, Prisons, Signage, 1950's

Jimmy Tayoun, Prison Consultant

Jimmy Tayoun was a Philadelphia City Councilman who got busted for accepting bribes and concealing income from the IRS. As a result, he spent some time in a federal prison, but he used the experience to good advantage by penning a 64-page guide of practical advice for those on their way to prison, which was published upon his release in 1995. He titled it, Going To Prison? It seems like a book that deserves a place in any library of the weird. [Allegheny Times]

He also set up a 1-900 number to answer questions from "fearful first-timers," charging them $2.50 a minute to select from a menu of seven topics. In this way, according to wikipedia, he pioneered the profession of "prison consultant" (apparently he was the first to use the term), that being someone who "provides newly convicted criminals with advice on how to cope and survive in the unfamiliar surroundings of prison."

Jimmy's tips included these words of wisdom:
  • Bring a good amount of cash if you can.
  • Ask the custodial officer for a couple more razors, some more soap, and later for toothpaste. After a while you will learn where it is stored, check the door until you find it open, and help yourself — though never take too much since your lockers do get checked
  • See a dentist before serving time
  • Be wary of probation officers
  • Never snitch on another inmate or guard
  • Bring two pairs of eyeglasses, though "nothing fancy schmantzy"
  • Get a doctor's note to avoid being assigned a top bunk
  • Arrange private transportation to prison to avoid being handcuffed on the trip

Posted By: Alex | Date: Wed Apr 17, 2013 | Comments (5)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, Prisons, 1990's

Prison Sign Language, 1941

Back in the 1940s, talking wasn't allowed in the dining room of the Iowa State Penitentiary at Fort Madison. So the convicts developed a primitive sign language to communicate what food they wanted:
  • Upheld hand: more bread, please
  • Upraised fist: more potatoes
  • Upheld knife, fork and spoon: more stew
  • Washing motion with the hand: water
  • Thumb up and index finger straight out: coffee or tea
  • Open and close the hand as if milking a cow: milk, please!
  • Hand flat and passed back and forth across the plate: gravy
  • Fork held up: meat
  • Thumb thrust through the fingers: vinegar
  • Two fingers thrust out: salt and pepper
  • If the person at the end of the table beats the table with his spoon: dessert is on the way
[Milwaukee Sentinel — Nov 16, 1941]
Posted By: Alex | Date: Sun Apr 14, 2013 | Comments (6)
Category: Languages, Prisons, 1940's

Last-Meal Plates

Artist Julie Green creates plates that show the last meals of death-row inmates. She's been creating these plates for 13 years and now has around 500 of them. The most popular last-meal request? Junk food from KFC and McDonald's. [Daily Mail]

Posted By: Alex | Date: Wed Jan 30, 2013 | Comments (3)
Category: Art, Food, Junk Food, Prisons

Jugged Rooster

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[From Life magazine for December 14 1942.]

I'm not sure what the impetus was for this brainstorm, but the letter writer has confessed to sticking a tiny chick into a jar through a small hole, then letting the chick grow to adult size totally within the confinement.

Proper punishment suggestions welcome!
Posted By: Paul | Date: Wed Jun 16, 2010 | Comments (6)
Category: Animals, Horror, Prisons, Outsider Art, 1940's

Take your child to work day…the F-sate way!

An F-state prison guard decided that the best way to help his co-workers' kids understand what it's like to work in prison was to tase them. Please note that this is now an international story.
Bonus Quote: 'The big shock came when I got fired.' the Daily Mail
Posted By: Lovemonkey | Date: Tue May 05, 2009 | Comments (3)
Category: Prisons, Stupidity, Children

Ferguson Safety Smock

Why you should buy a Ferguson Safety Smock:
  • They're virtually indestructible.
  • They have no hard fasteners that can be filed into weapons.
  • They have no nylon hook-and-loop fasteners that can be torn off and used as a rope.
  • They include a sanitary belt "designed for self-destructive females on their menses."
  • Plus, they make a great fashion statement!
Posted By: Alex | Date: Tue Apr 28, 2009 | Comments (10)
Category: Fashion, Prisons

Fifty-Pound Boots

An advance in penal technology that never caught on. I found this in the San Antonio Evening News, Nov 3, 1922:

Fifty-Pound Boots to Hold Criminals
Shod with the fifty-pound "Oregon" boot of metal, dangerous criminals have little, if any, chance of escaping by making a desperate dash for liberty, especially while on long railroad journeys in the custody of an officer of the law.
This shackling device is adapted from the old ball and chain, which it is to supercede. It consists of a steel frame work that fits over the shoe in the manner shown in the accompanying illustration. The "upper" is finished off as a fifty-pound collar.
A prisoner thus shod is able to walk but slowly and with some comfort. However, if he should make any attempt to escape by running, the heavy metal collar of the boot, it is claimed, will break his leg.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Wed Apr 22, 2009 | Comments (7)
Category: Prisons, Shoes

Two-Way Stretch

As we all know, Chuck has a recurring theme about how the Brits coddle their prisoners. Apparently, this motif goes back at least as far as 1960, the year that the Peter Sellers film TWO-WAY STRETCH premiered. In this film, Sellers and gang receive deliveries from the milkman and newsboy, keep a cat, steal the warden's ciggies, and generally make their stay quite enjoyable. Until the tough-guy guard known as "Sourkraut" shows up. See some moments below.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Thu Apr 09, 2009 | Comments (2)
Category: Movies, Prisons, Stupid Criminals, 1960's, Europe
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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2008 by the author of the post, either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.