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Wednesday, 3 May 2017



The earliest evidence of the existence of a prisoner dates back to prehistoric graves in Lower Egypt from 10,000 years ago. This evidence suggests that people from Libya enslaved a San-like tribe.

In Britain Mary Carpenter, daughter of a Unitarian minister, was appalled by the way in which young people learnt criminal behaviour at an early age. In 1835 she founded the Working and Visiting society to focus on the needs of young offenders.

The first hunger strike in a British prison was begun by Inverness-born suffragette Miss Marion Wallace Dunlop on July 5, 1909. Dunlop kept it up for 91 hours, until she was released from Holloway Prison on grounds of ill-health.

Adolf Hitler’s Egyptian-born deputy Rudolf Hess made a solo flight to Scotland in the early days of World War II on a supposed peace mission. After the war, he was jailed at Spandau Prison in West Berlin, where from 1966 until his death in 1987 he was the sole prisoner. After his passing, the 600-cell jail was demolished.

Hess (left) and Joachim von Ribbentrop in the defendants' box at the Nuremberg Trials

On October 25, 1962 Nelson Mandela was convicted of high treason and sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island. He was released from prison 27 years later.

The longest ever prison sentence was 141,078 years, given on July 27, 1989 to a Thai woman, Chamoy Thipyaso, who defrauded over 16,000 people out of over $200 million. However, the Thai law of the time specified that convicts of fraud could not serve more than twenty years in prison, and she was released after only eight.

Two brothers from a set of triplets fooled a Russian prison in 1992 when one brother named Roman swapped places with the other called Rusian to give him a brief taste of freedom. Rather than returning, Rusian ran off with his brother's girlfriend, leaving Roman to serve the rest of his twin's sentence. It took years for the authorities to realize they had been duped.

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

In 1995 Terry Nichols conspired with Timothy McVeigh in the planning and preparation of the Oklahoma City bombing. He was convicted in 2004 of 161 counts of first degree murder, first-degree arson; and conspiracy. Nichols was sentenced to 161 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole setting a Guinness World Record for most consecutive life sentences ever given to a single individual. He is incarcerated at ADX Florence, a super maximum security prison near Florence, Colorado.

Timothy McVeigh,, Ted Kaczynski (The UNABOMBER) and Ramzi Yousef (The '93 WTC Bomber), all became friends in Florence, Colorado Federal Supermax prison, and would regularly discuss religion and politics to pass time. Their friendship lasted until McVeigh's execution in 2001.

In 2004, American lifestyle guru Martha Stewart was sentenced to five months in jail after an insider trading scandal. She compared herself to Nelson Mandela, saying: "Many, many good people have gone to prison."

Martha Stewart says she passed time in jail making ceramics and jam out of the crab apples.

Iwao Hakamada is a Japanese former professional boxer who was sentenced to death on September 11, 1968 for a mass murder two years prior. It was suspected that he was falsely charged, however, and he was never executed as a result. On March 10, 2011, Guinness World Records certified Hakamada as the world's longest-held death row inmate.

Lawrence McKinney of Tennessee was 22 in 1977 when he was wrongly accused of rape. He was sent to prison the next year and spent 31 years in jail. In 2016, McKinney was paid $75 in compensation for being wrongly imprisoned but couldn't even cash that paltry sum for three months because he had no ID.

In March 2014, Hakamada was granted a retrial and an immediate release when the Shizuoka District Court found there was reason to believe evidence against him had been falsified.


Men outnumber women in US prisons by about 25:1.

In China the extremely wealthy can avoid prison terms by hiring body doubles. They hire "substitute criminals" to stand-in for them and serve out their prison sentences.

In Austria, Belgium, Germany and Mexico, attempting to escape from prison in itself is not a crime because the desire to escape is human nature. However, in Mexico it's still legal for officers to shoot prisoners trying to escape.

In Norway, all prisoners have the internet in their cells.

35% of Saudi women in prison are there because no male relative will collect them.

The U.S. has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's incarcerated population.

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