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kottke.org posts about prison

Air Giulianis, NYC prison sneakers

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 02, 2008

From an article about a collection of businesses located near Riker’s Island, this tidbit: the inmates refer to the prison-issued orange sneakers as Air Giulianis. Also:

The food truck man, Mr. Samolis, said he often gives free food to inmates who are released from Rikers with no money.

“They get released at 6 in the morning with nothing but a $2 MetroCard the jail gives them,” he said. “So I’ll give them a coffee and an egg sandwich, on credit. I know they’re never going to pay it back, but I feel bad for them.”

(thx, jake)

Cans of mackerel are prison currency

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 07, 2008

In the US federal prison system, cans of mackerel have replaced outlawed cigarettes as the de facto form of currency.

“It’s the coin of the realm,” says Mark Bailey, who paid Mr. Levine in fish. Mr. Bailey was serving a two-year tax-fraud sentence in connection with a chain of strip clubs he owned. Mr. Levine was serving a nine-year term for drug dealing. Mr. Levine says he used his macks to get his beard trimmed, his clothes pressed and his shoes shined by other prisoners. “A haircut is two macks,” he says, as an expected tip for inmates who work in the prison barber shop.

See also the economics of POW camps.

How To Survive in Prison as an

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 04, 2008

How To Survive in Prison as an Innocent Man Convicted of a Sex Crime, written by an innocent man convicted of a sex crime. This is an odd article, at once full of good advice, hints of mental instability, and defensiveness. In a section outlining the importance of regular exercise, he suddenly switches gears to:

Not only do we prisoners have to stick together, but we men must also join forces in our fight against feminism.

Exercise regularly, keep healthy, stay away from drugs, and keep your mind sharp. And ps, down with the feminists!! (via cyn-c)

Why is the burglary rate in Austria so high?

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 21, 2007

Why is the burglary rate in Austria so high? Perhaps because of the great minimum security prisons. The outside of one particular prison is all glass like an Apple Store, the furniture is nicely designed, and the sports facilities are top-notch.

Design Observer has a slideshow of various (

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 31, 2006

Design Observer has a slideshow of various (and ingenious) prison shivs collected by Chris Kasabach and Vanessa Sica.

Steve makes prison wine out of moldy

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 08, 2005

Steve makes prison wine out of moldy bread, ketchup, grape juice, raisins, garbage bags, and tube socks. “It’s hard to believe this started out as a bag of fruit snacks and grape juice. Yet somehow these ingredients went from sweet and child-like to harsh and alcoholic quicker than Lindsay Lohan.”