25 Insane Facts About Prisoners & Incarceration You Didn’t Know

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1Orleans Parish Prison

Orleans Parish Prison

Thousands of prisoners were abandoned in Orleans Parish Prison during Hurricane Katrina where the water and sewage rose up to neck deep. They went days without food, water or ventilation.

2. Inmates of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department can get free laser tattoo removal, e.g., gang sign tattoos they want to break from. Over 2,200 inmates have had tattoos removed. The removal incurs no cost to the public as it is paid for in part by the charity “Homeboy Industries.”

3. A convict named Thomas Silverstein has been held in solitary confinement at a Supermax prison since 1983. Considered to be one of the most dangerous inmates in the U.S., he's committed multiple murders in jail. He's held in a specially designed cell called Range 13 and has no human contact.

4. In 1987, a prison inmate named Ronnie Lee Gardner broke a glass partition and knocked out the lights in a visitation area to have sex with a woman who was visiting him. Fellow inmates cheered him on while barricading the doors. He claimed it was an accident.

5. The first death row inmate exonerated by DNA evidence was wrongly convicted child murderer Kirk Bloodsworth in 1993. Ten years later, Bloodsworth discovered that the actual killer had been incarcerated just one cell block beneath him.

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6Robert Lee Brock

Robert Lee Brock

In 1995, an inmate named Robert Lee Brock tried to sue himself for $5 million because he violated his own civil rights by getting arrested. He then asked the state to pay because he has no income in jail.

7. Prisoners in Antwerp prison have a computer station with a headset and limited access to the internet in their cells. They can also order PPV films (including adult ones), "making the prison run more efficiently".

8. Inmates at the only American federal supermax prison, nicknamed "the Alcatraz of the Rockies," are allowed one hour per day for exercise in an empty concrete swimming pool. The remaining 23 hours are spent in solitary confinement.

9. A convicted pedophile named Jerry Sandusky was taunted by inmates singing "Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone," a line from Pink Floyd's Another brick in the wall song.

10. The first death row inmate to escape from a Georgia prison was Troy Leon Gregg. He was beaten to death in a bar fight on the day of his escape.

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11Carlton Rich

Carlton Rich

A convict named Carlton Rich used his one phone call to call his girlfriend, who then called the same jail, with Rich himself on three-way. He pulled an impersonation of a prison official in New Mexico granting himself bail. Rich also orchestrated a fake fax confirming his release. He was released.

12. A group of inmates from a maximum security prison in New York once beat the Harvard debate team in a debate competition.

13. In 2006, a prisoner named Richard Lee McNair got himself a job in prison repairing mail bags, and he climbed inside one and mailed himself out of prison. Later that day while hiking along a railway line he was questioned, and let go by a police officer.

14. Wilhelm Brasse was an Auschwitz prisoner assigned to take thousands of photos for 5 years. After World War 2, the portrait photographer tried to start taking photos but was so traumatized by the 'ghosts' of the 'dead' that he was unable, later saying he would 'never take another photograph'.

15. Thai prisoners are released early if they take part in special kickboxing matches against foreigners.

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16Gary Cole

Gary Cole

In 2013, a federal prison inmate named Gary Cole sued Taco Bell for stealing his Doritos Taco idea.

17. An inmate named Eric Torpy in Oklahoma asked to add 3 years to his sentence to honor Larry Bird whose number is 33.

18. A convict named Alexander Pearce made two prison escapes, during both of which he ate some of his fellow escapees. The first time it happened they didn't believe him, but the second time they had to because there were body parts in his pocket.

19. While serving a prison sentence early in his criminal career, Clyde Barrow (of Bonnie and Clyde) convinced another inmate to help him avoid hard labor by chopping off two of his toes with an axe weapon. Unfortunately, this choice was made in haste and he would be released a mere six days later.

20. There is an inmate named Andre Thomas in Texas who, while serving time on death row, dug out both of his eyes and ate one of them.

21Prison guard

Prison guard

An inmate who murders a guard can get no more than 5 years in solitary confinement, but being found to be associated with a gang—even if you haven't done anything illegal—can land you in isolation for decades.

22. Former death row inmate Betty Lou Beets, shot her first husband, shot her second husband twice, ran her third husband over and also murdered her fourth and fifth husbands.

23. A California prison inmate once smuggled 2 boxes of staples, a pencil sharpener, sharpener blades, and 3 jumbo binder rings in his rectum, earning him the nickname “O.D.” (Office Depot).

24. An Illinois inmate named Michael Harms carves tiny, intricately-detailed chairs from soap, displayed in cases cut from popsicle sticks with nail clippers and dyed with rust from steel wool which sells for hundreds of dollars each at art shows.

25. 2 Wisconsin inmates walked out of prison using forged prison release records. One of the inmates had over 50 years left to serve and they were only apprehended when they reported for their scheduled parole hearing.

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