Locked in a California prison, Angelo needs a cup of coffee. Bad. But electric heaters used to make instant joe are often contraband in jail. So his cellmate combines the metal tabs from a notebook binder with a couple of melted toothbrushes and some rubber bands.And soon, Angelo is sipping Folgers.The jury-rigged heater is one of nearly 80 improvised items Angelo meticulously diagrams in a new book, Prisoners' Inventions. Working with the Chicago-based art group Temporary Services, Angelo (not his real name) shows how inmates fashion dice from sugar water and toilet paper, dry bologna jerky on jail-house light fixtures, turn hot sauce bottles into shower heads and make grilled cheese sandwiches on prison desks."This gives a glimpse into the everyday lives of the outrageous number of people we have in our prison system," said Temporary Services' Mark Fischer, who first started trading letters with Angelo in 1991. "And it's a celebration of the creativity that comes in response to their restrictive environment."In the movies, "prisoners only create things to escape, get high or kill each other," Fischer notes.Angelo's objects show a more banal, more human side of locked-down life: one where soda cans filled with rocks become crude alarm clocks and inmates cool their drinks in toilet bowls.My Wired News article has more.
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