Serving time in a jail or prison can certainly be a stressful experience, even for the toughest of prisoners. After all, they must be on constant high alert for potential violence against them, such as a stabbing because they failed to show fellow chow hall diners respect by knocking on the table before standing to leave. Or, by cutting in line on “chicken day.” (See below for chicken day definition).

Actually, line-cutting on any day is an a**-kicking/shank-sticking infraction of unwritten inmate rules. Although, members of various groups allow other members of those same groups to cut line. Just no “outsiders.” New prisoners must quickly learn that going to the rear of the line is always the safest bet.

To even the odds in the event of an attack, or to gain the upper hand against other inmates, prisoners often manufacture weapons from a variety of items, such as sharpened sticks, pieces of glass, razorblades, and molded, honed hard-plastic taped to toothbrush handles. Stabbing instruments made of melted and molded chess and checker game pieces are sometimes used as deadly weapons. Dominoes can also be used as effective and deadly bludgeoning instruments.

The list of prisoner weapons is a very long list

Even newspapers can be formed into an extremely hard and effective striking instrument similar to a police baton. Spears from tightly wrapped magazines. Coffee creamer flamethrowers (creamer ignites quickly and easily). Paper-mache daggers made of toilet tissue, with their tips dipped into human feces for that extra something special. And we mustn’t forget melted chocolate bars. Yes, those tasty treats become a boiling liquid that sticks to the flesh, causing extremely nasty and severe burns.

So what can corrections officials do to prevent everyday items from being transformed into deadly weapons?

Well, Bob Barker, America’s Leading Detention Supplier has a few solutions, such as domino, chess, and checker game pieces and boards made of silicone.

Bob Barker also sells pre-pasted, flexible toothbrushes, tiny, soft toothbrushes that fit over the end of a finger, flexible pens and pencils, flexible (orange or clear) coffee mugs, cups, and 6-compartment dinner trays, bowls, shoes, sandals, and more.

And, of course, there are the molded plastic chairs, tables, bunks, and wall shelves.

Molded plastic seems to be the safe choice for prisons and jails all across the country

Isn’t it sort of ironic that cities such as Santa Barbara, Ca. made it illegal to distribute plastic drinking straw, with an initial threat of imprisonment for repeat plastic straw-distributing offenders.

According to the California city’s website, “On October 9th, 2018, Santa Barbara City Council voted 6-1 to adopt an ordinance prohibiting the distribution and sale of plastic straws and stirrers as well as limitations to the distribution of plastic cutlery which can only be provided “upon request”.

Sensibly, Santa Barbara eventually backed away from making “distribution and sale of plastic straws” a jail-able offense.

Wasn’t it odd, though, that prior to the revision of the ordinance one could’ve been incarcerated for using a plastic draw to sip a Big Gulp (which in itself was nearly illegal in NYC), where the “plastic straw offender/prisoner” would sit on plastic chairs, sleep on plastic, bunks, and store reading material on plastic shelving.


The “Straw Law”

Now, the current penalties for violation of Santa Barbara’s Straw Ban are as follows (from their website):

A. For the first violation, a written warning notice will be issued to the beverage provider or food provider in order to confirm their understanding of the ordinance and the potential penalties in the event of future violations.

B. The second and each successive violation shall be punishable by civil administrative fines pursuant to Chapter 1.25 of this Code (civil penalties referenced in Chapter 1.28 are not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250) for each day or part thereof that said violation occurs). This Chapter shall not be criminally enforceable.

C. Violations of this Chapter shall be deemed to create a public nuisance. The City Attorney may seek legal, injunctive, or other equitable relief to enforce this Chapter. Each and every piece of plastic cutlery, plastic beverage straws, or plastic stirrers provided in violation of this Chapter shall constitute a separate violation of this Chapter and a continuing nuisance.”


Chicken Day

Some Friday lunchtimes in prison, especially in federal facilities, are special for inmates because they’re served real bone-in baked chicken quarters instead of the typical “mystery meat” fare.

Prisoners line up early outside the dining hall on chicken day. Rarely does anyone skip this special meal.

8 replies
  1. jansenschmidt
    jansenschmidt says:

    I recently bought some very nice silicone straws from Amazon that are washable. Maybe try those Pal. I’m sorry your husband has this issue.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  2. Judy
    Judy says:

    Not sure that I understand your point here. Prohibitions against plastic straws have been passed largely in order to protect aquatic lifeforms that are suffering from the improper disposal of the straws. It isn’t a prohibition of plastic itself. Why do you see the use of plastic chairs and flexible bowls as potentially ironic?

    • Lee Lofland
      Lee Lofland says:

      Nothing more than the fact that illegal use/distribution of a plastic item could have been the reason the person was sent to jail where they’d be reminded daily that plastic was the reason they were there.

  3. Vivian Zabel
    Vivian Zabel says:

    Your blog posts give me ideas I can use in my books, and I have already used some. Thanks for all the information.

  4. Pat Nipper
    Pat Nipper says:

    I dislike the plastic straw ban because my husband needs them. His skin cancer distorted his mouth so that he can’t close it. He can’t drink from a regular glass or cup without a straw, plastic preferred. He even brings his own straw along in case he can’t get one at a restaurant.

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