22 Ingenius Prison Made Inventions

A prisoner was found making a gun from soap at HMP Bedford prisoner last week. He was apparently modelling  it after John Dillingers from the 1930’s shown in the photo below with a picture of him. Dillinger was renown for breaking out of jail multiple times.

John Dilinger's Gun made out of soap.
John Dilinger’s Gun made out of soap.
John Dillinger, murderer and robber, pictured at Tucson, Arizona.
John Dillinger, murderer and robber, pictured at Tucson, Arizona.

The inmate became remorseful and ended up turning it in to the authorities. The inmate had never tested it and no one had been hurt. Afterwards he was placed in The Care and Separation Unit.

Below are some other inventions created in prison for various purposes like harming another inmate, smuggling, communication or for entertainment purposes.

  1. A hole was carved into a book to hide a radio receiver. In the 70’s an inmate built this in Ludwigsburg prison.


A coat hanger and a jagsaw blade were converted into a saw.The tool was found in the therapeutical section of Hohenasperg prison, Germany.


2. A rope fashioned from bedsheets. Probably the most commonly known invention by inmates.bedsheets and
this one was made from dish towels; length: 16 meters.
Back in May, 1998 two prisoners tried to use it used it to
escape from the ‘Santa Fu’ jail in Hamburg,Germany.on the 6th floor.Of the 2 inmates that tried to escape on he made it to the roof where he was captured and the other ended up falling.













3.In Wolfenbüttel prison, Germany a slingshot/catapult was made by an inmate in the metal workshop there, most likely to smuggle secret messages, drugs, or gun parts. When confronted and confiscated in 1991 the prisoner said it was a piece of abstract art entitled ‘Dackel’ (= dachshund.













4. A shotgun was made from iron bedposts and wood. The ammunition was created from pieces of lead from curtain tape and match-heads. It was ignited by AA batteries and a broken light bulb.

In Celle, Germany, On May 21, 1984 two prisoners attempted to use it to escape. The took a jailer as a hostage, and shot out some bullet proof glass. They then escaped by car.

5. An inmate of In the 1980’s in Ludwigsburg prison,
Germany, an inmate created a heater most likely to be used for a stove, grill or toaster. It was fashioned from wire, tin foil and a broken heating rod.


6. Grappling Hooks were created to help inmates escape from prison. In this picture there the grappling hook has an additional 13 rod pieces approx 4.5m long. They were attached to a leather and string rope.













7. Back in the 80’s at a prison in Stammheim Germany working out was banned. So a prisoner decided to make a dumb-bell to workout. It was created in the prisons metal shop and was found hidden in a staircase. The fabric surrounding it looks like it was from a sock.













8. A hollowed out artificial leg for a prisoner in‘Santa Fu’ prison in Hamburg,Germany around 1984 was used to smuggle materials into the prison.













9. A mace-like weapon was foudn in 1997 in the metal workshop of
‘Santa Fu’ prison in Hamburg, Germany. It may have been intended for use as a weapon, to attach to a pole or to push away barbed wire in an escape attempt.













10. A hidden shiv was inside a wooden crucifix. It was  found in an inmate’s cell in Wolfenbüttel prison, Germany, sometime around 1994.


11. A ladder made from the steel rails of a bookshelves.
On October 10, 1994, 2 inmates successfully used this ladder to escape from Santa Fu prison














12. Another grappling hook made to look like a wrought-iron
candle holder. Created sometime in 1985 in Wolfenbüttel, Germany the prisoners would bend open the legs attaching a rope.













13. A dummy pistol created from blackened cardboard was hidden in an empty milk pack. Likely used for taking hostages in an escape attempt. It was found in 1988 in Stammheim prison, Germany.

14. A fake submachine gun made from a grease injector, wood, a rubber sleeve, and tape. The mock weapon was found in 1994 in a prison workshop in Wolfenbüttel prison, Germany, after jailers were tipped off that an escape attempt was being planned.

15.WHIP with razor blades. The grisly weapon was found around 1996
in ‘Santa Fu’ jail in Hamburg, Germany, in the cell of a drug addicted inmate after his failed attempt to extort a higher Methadone ration by threatening
a female prison officer with a knife













16.DOUBLE-BARRELED PISTOL This gun was found along with other homemade firearms in the cell of two Celle prison inmates on November 15, 1984. The weapons had been made in the prison’s metal workshop. They were loaded with pieces of steel and match-heads.






An inmate of ‘Santa Fu’ prison
in Hamburg, Germany, fitted a
wooden handle to a piece of
saw blade for better handling.
The tool was found in his cell
and confiscated.









18.ROPE LADDER with wooden rungs disguised as chess pieces; found and
confiscated in an inmate’s cell in Wolfenbüttel prison, Germany, around 1993.













19.KNUCKLEDUSTER with padded handle, made from a rasp that was presumably stolen from a prison workshop. The weapon was found in
a cell in the prison of Wolfenbüttel, Germany, sometime around 1993.













20.TATTOOING NEEDLE made from a toothbrush handle, a ball pen and an electric motor; confiscated in ‘Santa Fu’ prison in Hamburg, Germany.
Tattooing instruments are a popular and common source of income among inmates but are banned as ‘illegal objects’ due to the danger of infection
(Aids, Hepatitis, etc.).

21.IMMERSION HEATER made from razor blades; found in a cell in ‘Santa Fu’ jail in Hamburg, Germany. Jailbirds use these tools to distil alcoholic
beverages forbidden in prisons. Your typical inmate’s moonshine
still includes a plastic can containing fermented fruit mash or juice, an immersion coil of some sort, a rubber hose, and a plastic receptacle for the booze.

22.HASH PIPE fashioned from an empty horseradish tube; confiscated
in ‘Santa Fu’ prison in Hamburg, Germany. Smoking implements are the most common illicit items in prisons. The range of materials they are made of mirrors the inmates’ great imagination.

23.RADIO TRANSMITTER / BUG made of radio recorder parts by an inmate of Wolfenbüttel prison, Germany (battery is missing). Prisoners occasionally manage to install gizmos like this one in guard-rooms to be prepared for upcoming cell searches. Also suitable as a means of cell-
to-cell communication among inmates. A standard radio serves
as a receiver.




All images from Mark Steinmetz

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