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
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]
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.
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
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.
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.
Inmate uniforms, modular holding cells, handcuffs, transport hoods, leg irons, belly chains, and multi-point restraint systems. PX:Direct has it all for the correctional facility do-it-yourselfer.
I'm sure there must be some legitimate reason an individual might need to buy this stuff. I just can't think of one off the top of my head. Wait. Here's an idea. Amateur experimenters could use it to recreate the Stanford Prison Experiment in their basement.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.