Prisoners’ Inventions
August 25, 2019 2:31 PM   Subscribe

We asked Angelo to illustrate and describe the many incredible inventions made by prisoners that he had made, seen, or heard about over the years. These inventions are attempts to fill needs that the restrictive environment of the prison tries to suppress. The inventions cover everything from homemade sex dolls, condoms, salt and pepper shakers to chess sets, privacy curtains and ways of communicating between cells.
posted by Ahmad Khani (8 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've had quite a few conversations with people who've been incarcerated (for varying lengths of time, in various institutions). As someone who is not particularly creative or good at thinking 'out of the box', I'm always completely in awe when I hear about recipes from canteen items or intricate/complex things like what Angelo documented. (One of my guys said, "We have a lot of time on our hands to get creative..")
posted by VioletU at 3:47 PM on August 25 [4 favorites]


This is fascinating, thanks so much. The mini lathe blew my mind, so so clever. When they say necessity is the mother of invention, they’re not wrong, Macgyver’s got nothing on these guys. Such a shame these skills are wasted in prison, there’s some real creative talent there.
posted by Jubey at 4:34 PM on August 25 [2 favorites]


/r/prisonwallet collects actual pictures of interesting items made in prison.
posted by tmacdonald at 4:45 PM on August 25 [4 favorites]


Prisoners want a hot cheese sandwich so badly that they block their unit's exhaust duct and fry the sandwich on the seat of a metal chair heated by rolls of burning toilet paper. It produces thick clouds of choking black smoke. What does it say about prisons that (a) they can do that without being caught; and (b) that the prisoners don't have access to a microwave or hotplate?
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:58 PM on August 25 [14 favorites]


Fascinating and more than a little sadness. Thank you for posting.
posted by readinghippo at 6:59 PM on August 25 [3 favorites]


That incarcerated people have to invent their own privacy curtain is one of those shockingly wrong realizations. How many of us recharge by being alone at home or in our car or something? And we don't have to deal with the degradations of prison 24-7.
posted by Emmy Rae at 1:32 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]


What does it say about prisons that [...] the prisoners don't have access to a microwave or hotplate?

A friend of mine told me a gory story about a microwave and cheese / coffee creamer. You heat either of those (high-fat) items up in the microwave until it's essentially boiling oil - and then you have a great weapon to use against someone on range (or a CO).

On one hand, I recognize the need to treat people humanely. On the other hand, some people in prison are absolutely dangerous - and, worse yet, there's a lot of potential for really decent people to become dangerous when they're forced to defend themselves. Prisons are awful across the board.
posted by VioletU at 12:33 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine told me a gory story about a microwave and cheese / coffee creamer.

Some of these inventions start with the wiring from an electric jug. But in any event, if they can and do literally start bonfires in their cell then a microwave is probably a safer option, no?
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:12 PM on August 28


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