Tuesday, October 30, 2012

'Dead Man Walking' Wins Costume Contest

Convicted killer Billy Ray Radzick is the winner of this year's "Convicts in Costume" contest, held each Halloween at the state correctional facility. Radzick's "zombie" costume was a big hit with the judges, who were impressed by his creativity. According to Radzick, though, the idea was obvious.

"I mean, they call the guys on death row 'dead men walking,' right?" Radzick explained. "And that's just what a zombie is. Dead man walking, walking dead, same thing. The only difference is that we don't eat brains. Although I've heard some rumors about what the guy in the next cell did before he got arrested, so I stay away from him."

Judges awarded second place to Buford "Wild Man" Williams for his "prison guard" costume. The outfit was so realistic, in fact, that Williams almost made it to the facility's front gate before he was escorted back to the party for the final judging.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Reality TV Goes to Prison

Over the past decade, Reality TV has literally taken over the airwaves. And with so many ideas already exhausted, it was only a matter of time before network producers set their sights on our nation’s prison system as the backdrop for a new show.

“We were looking for something gritty and realistic,” said one network executive. “I mean, how many seasons of American Idol and The Bachelor can you have?”

But coming up with an idea that’s fresh and exciting wasn’t easy. Producers toyed with prison-themed spin-offs of shows that were already popular, but projects like Dancing with the Guards, America’s Next Top Model Prisoner, and Cell’s Kitchen never made it off the drawing board.

Other ideas showed greater promise but also greater risk. The Amazing Race Riot and Extreme Takeover: Prison Edition drew massive enthusiasm from a focus group of convicts, but both ideas made prison authorities nervous. Network execs also had high hopes for So You Think You Can Escape and its companion show, Project Runaway, but both shows were scrapped when the first round of contestants vanished during taping.

In the end, producers went with two shows whose themes were already perfectly suited for a prison environment; Fear Factor and Survivor.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Prisoners Declare "We Built This, Too!"

In recent weeks, the new battle cry of the republican party has been "We Built This." The slogan is a response to President Obama's claim that many small business owners and entrepreneurs have enjoyed success because of the help they received from others.

That same battle cry is now being heard in prisons across the country, where convicts want due credit for their own accomplishments.

"Those republicans know what they're talking about," said Steve "Wildman" Orwitz, now serving 20 years for armed robbery. "I mean, when I build a shank, all the work that goes into it is mine. I'm the one who spends hours and hours scraping that spoon against the concrete to get it nice and sharp. Who cares if Butch loans me some duct tape for the handle and Tiny keeps an eye out for the guards while I do it? All the labor is mine, and I end up with a quality American product. Believe me, you won't find shanks like that in China."

"Amen, brother," agreed convicted killer Mike "The Hammer" Wilson. "I'm the one who squatted in the corner of my cell with a lighter for three hours, melting the end of that toothbrush and pressing the soft plastic against the floor to make a nice, sharp point on the end. Sure, I stole the toothbrush from my cellmate and one of the guys in my prison gang loaned me the lighter, but it was my industrious nature that turned that toothbrush into an instrument of death."

A prisoner known only as "Crazy Bill" added, "Yeah, man, them democrats don't know what they're talking about with all this "It Takes a Cell Block" nonsense. It don't take a cell block to make a homemade spear from bed springs and a rolled-up newspaper. Just one bright, motivated convict with time on his hands and rage in his heart. And we got plenty of them in here." 


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Olympics Fever Hits Death Row

There’s a fever running rampant through our nation’s prison system, but it’s nothing for those overworked jailhouse doctors to worry about; I’m talking about Olympic fever.

Not even the drudgery of life on death row can dampen an inmate’s enthusiasm for the world’s greatest sports spectacle. In fact, one group of convicts is trying to organize their own version of the Olympic Games right inside the prison.

“We thought it might be fun, but it’s tough to come up with an approved list of events,” said a prison spokesman. “Sports like archery, fencing, and the javelin toss had to be excluded right away, for obvious reasons, but other sports could be potentially dangerous as well. Some of these convicts are crafty. They could turn a badminton racquet or a table tennis paddle into a lethal weapon in a heartbeat.”

Prison officials urged inmates to try “safe” events such as gymnastics, but were met with little enthusiasm. “These guys don’t know a thing about parallel bars or horizontal bars—just prison bars,” the spokesman confided, “and none of them have ever performed a floor routine, although some of the ones on work detail have performed a mop-the-floor routine quite a few times.”

The convicts volunteered to create their own list of events, but these were immediately vetoed by the warden. “Events like Synchronized Shanking and the 100-Meter Escape Attempt were considered far too risky. Going for the gold is one thing; going for the top of the prison wall is quite another.”

Monday, July 2, 2012

No 'Suicide by Oyster' for Steven Hayes

Convicted murderer Steven Hayes, whose crimes were so terrible that he could serve as the new poster boy for death penalty advocates, apparently concocted a grand scheme to escape from his sentence; death by oyster.

While in jail, Hayes--who has a massive allergy to the slimy sea creatures--came up with a plan to trade the police false information about other crimes in return for special meals, namely oysters. He would then eat the deadly seafood and therefore rob the state of the chance to carry out its punishment.

This is clearly another shellfish act by a criminal who only cares about himself. He tried to manipulate prison officials like they were prawns in a chess game, but his plan failed. Now that his scheme has been uncovered, he can clam up and go back to the weight bench to work on his mussels.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Death Row's Oddest Inmates Now In Paperback

The wait is finally over! Death Row's Oddest Inmates is now available in paperback! Click the book cover to order from your favorite bookseller!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Angry Jailbirds Game Delayed By Glitches

Due to unforeseen complications, computer game developer Felony Fun has delayed the release of its newest game, Angry Jailbirds. Just like the popular and addictive game it’s based on, the mission in this prison-themed version is to wage war on a group of unruly pigs. But instead of comical cartoon figures, the birds in Angry Jailbirds were modeled after famous prison inmates.

Similar to the original game, each bird has its own special abilities. The Unabomber bird, for example, mails packages to the pigs which explode when they’re opened. After the Son of Sam bird kills a pig, he feigns innocence and claims that demonic voices in his head ordered him to do it. And while the Charles Manson bird doesn’t attack pigs himself, he has the power to brainwash other birds who then terrorize the pigs for him.

Despite high expectations for the game, Felony Fun has gone back to the drawing board after several unexpected bugs appeared in the software. “We’re finding glitches we never expected,” said a company spokesman. “Like, instead of attacking the pigs, the Sirhan Sirhan bird just goes into this long, rambling speech about politics. And after the followers of the Charles Manson bird make a successful attack, they sometimes scribble “Piggies” or “Death to Pigs” on the walls in cartoon blood. Things like that slow down game play and detract from the spirit of fun.”

While fixing these problems might be a challenge, the ones that popped up in earlier versions of the game were far worse. During the first round of test play, the game crashed constantly because all the characters tried to file appeals at the same time.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

'Firing Squad' Boosts Productivity of Death Row Workers

By creating a new performance evaluation group, prison officials have boosted the productivity of death row inmates enrolled in work programs.

Condemned prisoners are rarely allowed out of their cells, and those with work assignments can only perform chores in the death row block. The tasks are mainly custodial, such as sweeping cells, mopping the hallway floors, or emptying trash cans. But despite the simplicity of the jobs, some death row inmates occasionally did sloppy work or skipped their duties entirely—until now.

“Too many inmates were doing a lousy job on their chores,” said a prison spokesman, “so we decided to form a group that would evaluate their work performance and take away jobs from the inmates who weren’t working hard enough. We haven’t come up with an official name for the group yet, but since their sole duty is to fire inmates who are doing a poor job, we refer to them as the ‘firing squad.’ We’re still trying to come up with a real name, but for now that’s what we call them.”

Since the group’s formation, productivity of death row inmates has increased greatly. When a prisoner doesn’t sweep well enough or misses a spot while cleaning windows, he’s told he’ll have to stand in front of the ‘firing squad’ if he doesn’t do better. The mere threat of the new job evaluation group apparently frightens inmates into working much harder.

“It’s amazing,” said one prison guard. “Just the other day I told this big, tough serial killer that I’d haul him to the firing squad myself if he didn’t do a better job of mopping. The guy broke down in tears and got that floor spick and span in no time. I guess he was really worried about losing his job. It’s weird, though. I never knew these guys cared so much about their work assignments.”

But apparently death row inmates do care about their jobs, no matter how menial they are. Several hardened criminals have been seen weeping, praying, and writing sentimental letters to loved ones after being told they were headed for the firing squad following a poor work performance.

And apparently prisoners aren’t the only ones who get anxious when the evaluation group is mentioned. After a truckload of groceries arrived late, a newly-hired prison guard mistakenly threatened an employee of the prison’s food delivery service with a visit to the firing squad. The poor truck driver fainted on the spot and had to be taken to the infirmary to be revived.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lethal Injections Get a Festive Makeover

Just in time for summer, the lethal injection process is about to get a much-needed facelift. For years now, death penalty states have used a so-called “lethal cocktail” of three drugs to execute convicted killers. While this procedure was always considered more humane and more dependable than other methods of death, it’s garnered plenty of bad press lately. Some states have run out of one of the required drugs while others are stuck with large batches of “expired” drugs which have been deemed potentially harmful—somewhat ironic, considering that the drugs are meant to kill their recipient!

To combat the bad press and “liven up” the lethal injection process, some states are now adding food coloring, paper umbrellas, plastic flamingos, and other decorations to their lethal injection drugs. “The newspapers have been calling it a ‘lethal cocktail’ for years,” said an anonymous prison spokesman. “So we figured we’d dress it up and make it more like an actual cocktail.”

While inmates can’t be given real alcohol, the spokesman said that adding bright food coloring and an orange slice or a pineapple wedge makes the mixture far more festive. “We’re still working on ways to add cherries and other small pieces of fruit,” he explained. “Those little plastic cocktail swords might seem harmless, but they’re a serious violation of the prison’s weapons policy.”

After consulting with bartenders from popular restaurant chains, lawmakers have come up with a list of “cocktails” with fun, execution-appropriate names like Last-Minute Stay, Call from the Governor, and The Exonerator. While some of the trendy drinks in real bars have names with harmful or negative connotations—such as Snake Bite, Mind Eraser, or Irish Car Bomb—prison officials decided not to go that route.

“We tossed around the idea of names like Angry Cellmate or Court-Appointed Lawyer but decided against them in the end,” said our prison spokesman. “We want to keep the mood light and fun. Just imagine the chuckles you’ll hear in the death chamber when the condemned man or woman says, ‘Can I get a Last-Minute Stay, please?’ or ‘I’d really like a Call from the Governor.’ Hopefully it’ll make the whole process easier on everyone involved.”

To generate excitement about the program, some prisons have come up with catchy names for their new system and are already launching promotions. One state renamed its death chamber O’Sparky’s and hung up a banner that says Time for some Capital Fun-ishment! Another state dressed its prison guards in hats and suspenders, pinned lots of whimsical buttons to their shirts, then sent them off to death row with laminated menus that read Dying for Something Different? Try One of Our New Gleeful Injections!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Butts Block Bartee Execution

Mere hours before convicted killer Anthony Bartee was due to be executed in Texas, his lawyers filed a flurry of appeals to delay the process.

Bartee was found guilty of killing a man then stealing his motorcycle, but his lawyers argue that some evidence found at the crime scene wasn’t properly tested. They now demand that drinking cups and cigarette butts found at the victim's home be tested for DNA to see if someone else was there on the night of the murder.

“These cups and cigarette butts are crucial evidence,” said an anonymous member of the legal team. “Especially the butts. Someone needs to examine those butts closely. They should be examined and possibly probed. Something stinks here, and I think it’s those butts.”

The anonymous source went on to say, “We’ve been trying to get our hands on those butts for years, and now we’ve finally got them. Just one little butt can make a huge difference. Maybe it’s the victim’s butt. Maybe it’s Anthony Bartee’s butt. But maybe that butt belongs to a stranger. Maybe it’s a killer’s butt. And if so, we need to find that killer and throw his butt in jail. His other butt, I mean. Sorry.”

Monday, April 30, 2012

Michael Selsor: Killer, Armed Robber, Mustache Donor

It doesn't happen very often, but once in a while a death row inmate tries to donate all or part of his body after his execution. Some try to donate individual organs while others opt to give their entire body to science. The requests are sometimes denied and sometimes approved; one of the most newsworthy cases involved famed killer Gary Gilmore, whose eyes were used in a cornea transplant after his execution by firing squad.

Now Michael Selsor, due to be executed in Oklahoma tomorrow, has followed that generous tradition. After his lethal injection, Selsor's facial hair will be donated to an anonymous cowboy who has been unable to grow his own mustache. The recipient, who currently sports only a pale, wispy fringe above his upper lip, will finally be able to ride the range with pride after the transplant is completed. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Autocorrect Fail, Death Row Edition

We've all laughed at the hilarious garbled text messages on sites likes Damn You Autocorrect and Autocorrect Fail, but can you imagine the bizarre statements we might see if death row inmates were allowed to have iPhones?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Death Row's Oddest Inmates On the Loose!

They're wild, weird, wacky, and they're now running loose at a bookstore near you! Figuratively speaking, of course!

In Death Row's Oddest Inmates, you'll meet crazy convicts like:

Aileen Wuornos, dubbed "America's First Female Serial Killer," who thought a UFO would beam her up to space after her lethal injection

Charles Singleton, who was convinced that Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger would rescue him from death row

Varnall Weeks, who planned to rule the universe as a giant turtle after his execution

Robert Vickers, who killed his cellmate because the other man drank his Kool-Aid

Monty Delk, who thought he was a zombie, a submarine captain, a federal agent, and the president of Kenya--depending on what time of day it was

Who used a pickle jar as a murder weapon? Who murdered three people with a bowling pin? Why doesn't Texas serve special last meals anymore? Find out in Death Row's Oddest Inmates!

Watch the video trailer here!