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Top 10 Crazy Prison Stories

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson

The world gets even crazier once you’re behind bars. For this list, we’re looking at specific incidents, rather than sweeping, general statements of things that may or may not have happened in prisons, like the Pennsylvania Fight Club, to the Goree All-Girl String Band, and White Noise Torture. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 INSANE Things That Have Happened in Prisons.

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Script written by Caitlin Johnson


Top 10 INSANE Things That Have Happened in Prisons




The world gets even crazier once you’re behind bars. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 insane things that have happened in prisons.

For this list, we’re looking at specific incidents, rather than sweeping, general statements of things that may or may not have happened in prisons.

#10: Pennsylvania Fight Clubs


In 2011, a scandal broke about a State Correctional Institution in Fayette, Pennsylvania, with an investigation accusing guards of running a brutal fight club. Prisoners would be targeted and forced to take part against their will, with violent and traumatic results. This came to light after one whistle-blower wrote a letter to external officials. The letter describes witnessing injuries like “missing teeth, swollen eyes, broken knuckles [and] broken hands,” as a result of this organized fight club. Worse, similar scandals have shaken the prison system across the entire state of Pennsylvania, with three guards being charged with abusing prisoners at another facility in York.

#9: Deadly Fight at Maximum Security Facility


A perfect and terrible storm brewed in the Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina in 2018, when tension between inmates over gangs, cell phones, and contraband reached the boiling point. In the fights that broke out that Sunday evening, seven died and seventeen more were seriously injured. People were beaten to a pulp and stabbed with DIY shanks. It was already one of the most dangerous prisons in the US, but the matter was made much worse when emergency services and additional staff didn’t arrive for at least four hours after the fighting began.

#8: Goree All-Girl String Band


One of the few genuinely upbeat stories to come from the American prison system is that of the Goree Girls, the first all-female country and western group in the US. The twist was that they were all Texas prison inmates held at the Goree Unit in the 1940s. The band was the result of one inmate, Reable Childs. She had the idea that by forming a band and performing on the radio show “Thirty Minutes Behind the Walls,” they could get famous enough to earn early parole. Amazingly, this worked, and the eight women eventually saw release, at which point they disbanded – unfortunately without having recorded a single record.

#7: White Noise Torture


In 1971, fourteen suspected-IRA prisoners held illegally and without charge in an internment camp by the British army were taken for “deep interrogation.” The men became known as the “hooded men,” and were subjected to inhuman experiences. Being attacked by dogs and thrown out of helicopters were just some of the methods used, as well as “white noise torture,” where white noise would constantly be blasted to stop them from sleeping or even thinking. They eventually took their case before the European Court of Human Rights, accusing the British of torture. Today, the remaining victims are still fighting their case against the British government, which condoned these brutal methods.

#6: T-Bone’s Vigilante Justice


Rape is a problem around the world, but in the prison system it’s always been particularly nasty. That’s why one man, a devoutly Christian ex-Marine named T-Bone, has been leading his own personal crusade against prison rapists in the Arizona Department of State Corrections. Standing up for the little guy when nobody else will, T-Bone says he’s almost been killed on multiple occasions and is constantly threatened. Despite all this, it’s his faith in God that keeps him trying to protect vulnerable inmates and beat up sexual predators, since if any of the victims actually report the crimes they risk murder for being a rat.

#5: Blood Swaps


There have been many horror stories of experiments carried out in prisons, as some consider them to be a wealth of subjects for all kinds of research. At least in the case of Louis Boy, one prisoner at Sing Sing, his role in a bizarre study was entirely consensual. In the late 1940s, he volunteered to take part in some unusual research to try and cure a young girl of terminal leukemia. Their blood was transfused in the hope that passing her blood through his system and vice versa may “clean” it and cure the disease. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, and the girl died shortly after – but at least Boy’s heart was in the right place.

#4: Skinned for Beauty Products


The sickening fate of some executed prisoners in China was revealed in a series of gruesome exposés in the early 2000s. In 2005, it was reported that various Chinese cosmetics companies were using the skin of dead prisoners in the development of their products, and that products using human materials may have found their way into European countries. The companies argued that this was “traditional” and not a taboo in China. The even worse practice of China’s organ trade was revealed earlier, in 2001. One doctor claimed that inmates are sometimes even “killed to order” so that their organs can be sold to wealthy people in other parts of the world.

#3: Alva Campbell Survives His Own Execution


Facing the death penalty for the murder of another man during a robbery-gone-wrong in 1998, Campbell was supposed to be executed in late 2017. However, because of his chronic heart and lung problems, officials found it next to impossible to locate a viable vein to give him the lethal injection. With a new execution date scheduled for 2019, Campbell began appealing, arguing that the injection is a “cruel and unusual punishment” because of the risk the drugs may not work. He claimed that attempting to execute him again was “unconstitutional.” However, he died of natural causes just a few months after the botched execution.


#2: The Pascal Payet Escapes


This Frenchman is one of the world’s most notorious escape artists, famous for his flashy exits and bad habit of getting himself caught again after very little time. He even holds the world record for planning the greatest number of escapes by helicopter. First convicted for a 1997 murder, he’s participated in prison escapes in 2001, 2003 and 2007. His break-outs as well as crimes committed during his time as a fugitive have added another 23 years to his original 30-year sentence. He’s one of the closest-monitored prisoners in France and is thought to be constantly moved in order to stop him planning yet another escape.

#1: Forced Psychedelic Trips


The CIA has never been a stranger to cruelty and controversy, but few things have ever been so scandalous as Project MKUltra, a series of mind-control experiments. Their most infamous experiment to ruin the minds of their enemies involved drugging unsuspecting Americans with LSD. Many of the subjects were prisoners, who could be easily observed due to their confinement. As LSD was new and poorly-understood in the ‘50s and ‘60s, the CIA believed the drug could give them an edge in the Cold War, but US citizens were the only ones who suffered. As most of the research was ultimately destroyed, we may never know the full extent of the horrors of MKUltra.

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