No matter how bad you think things might be, at least you're not in a Romanian jail pounding rusty nails into your head.
For a related post, from way back in 2012, check out The Method of the Nail
The Guardian - Aug 6, 1995
Fred Caddedu escaped from Millhaven penitentiary in Kingston, Ontario by concealing himself inside an "escape pod" made out of a hollowed-out stack of dirty food trays.
The food trays were loaded onto a truck and taken to the unguarded, off-site kitchen to be cleaned. Once there, Caddedu just walked away. He was caught and returned to prison several months later.
His escape pod later became an exhibit in the Correctional Service of Canada Museum
Image source: Museopathy
The Ottawa Journal - July 14, 1980
In 1957, the Woodlake road camp prison in California began an experiment in convict rehabilitation. It was called "Operation Sleep." The idea was to use sleep learning to reform convicts. As the prisoners slept, they heard the soothing voice of a psychiatrist speaking the following script:
Listen, my inner self, remember and obey this creed of life: Live relaxed, completely and utterly relaxed... Love, rule my life. Love God, my family, and others... Have faith... work with others... Face life without fear, be calm, unafraid... Know myself and my faults... live without alcohol... Alcohol is a poison. I do not need alcohol. Abstain with ease. Alcohol is repulsive to me...
I am truly happy. I give my life to my family, to my friends, and to the world. I am filled with love and compassion for all, so help me God.
The script had been written by the County's Public Defender, John Locke, with help from a local Presbyterian minister, Rev. Glen Peters, and a hospital therapist, Robert C. Lally. They described Operation Sleep as "a type of brain-washing — but not the type used by the totalitarians."
Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any data on whether the experiment actually had an effect of criminal behavior. The superintendent of the prison noted, "We have had excellent cooperation from the inmates. But of course, it is too early yet to tell what effect it will have. We won't know until after the men have been released and face the temptations of freedom again."
The picture at the top is from Newsweek
(Dec 30, 1957), and shows one of the prisoners who participated in the experiment. The fact that he's sleeping with a dog seems a little strange. I guess the inmates got to keep pets in this prison.
Wilmington Morning News - Oct 11, 1957
I found a news story from 1961 offering a 3-year update on Operation Sleep. I'm actually surprised that the prison kept the experiment going for that long. Public defender John Locke claimed that the experiment had been showing positive results, but said they needed to keep it going for another 3 years to be sure. From the Ottawa Citizen - Feb 21, 1961
For three years now the sleep therapy program has been in operation. Locke and his associates are careful to admit that it will be at least three years more before anything conclusive can be deduced from the careful check they keep on prisoners after their release.
Almost from the beginning though, the guards at the road camps noticed that the young inmates did not cause the same amount of trouble they had created formerly and were surprised when prisoners started coming to them for counsel.
What is probably most indicative of the therapy's effect is the decrease in alcoholism revealed by surveys among ex-prisoners.
Harsh justice in Switzerland.
Could this boy perhaps have been the youngest person ever convicted of a crime and sent to jail?
The Minneapolis Journal - Nov 18, 1906
Wee Tot Sent To Prison
Three-year-old Swiss is convicted as a thief.
Geneva, Nov. 17 — The Swiss public and press are aroused at the extraordinary action of a magistrate presiding at the criminal sessions at Weinfelden in the commune of Thurgoirs, who has sentenced a child barely 3 years of age to three and a half months' imprisonment for "theft."
The child, who is the son of a laborer, saw some penny toys dangling from the doorway of a shop. He seized two of them, and took them home, and an hour later was "arrested" by a tall gendarme on a charge of theft.
When the case was called at Weinfelden the child had to be carried by a gendarme, as he could not be seen over the top of the dock.
In response to the magistrate's questions the little fellow laughingly admitted that he took the toys. He could not speak plainly, and it was with difficulty that the gendarme, who acted as intermediary, was made to understand that he wanted them "as he did not have any toys like other boys."
"Three and a half months' imprisonment," said the magistrate sternly.
The boy's parents fell on their knees before the magistrate, and pleaded with him to remit the sentence on account of his tender age and his inability to distinguish between right and wrong. The magistrate declined to revise the sentence, however, and said "Remove the prisoner."
The gendarme, who was much affected, carried the child out of the dock and placed him in the arms of an astonished warder.
Sources: The Daily Standard
(Sikeston, Missouri) - Feb 11, 1956; Bridgeport Telegram
(Connecticut) - Apr 4, 1955.
More in extended >>
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.
With USA incarceration rates at an all-time high, surely there's a market for these nowadays?
From the 1950 catalog.
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
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
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