11 Sep 07

On Shanks (Part 1)

The person I interviewed for this blog asked to remain anonymous, and asked that I post it after my release, as he feared the information he provided could be deemed “a threat to the security of the institution.”

“What is a shank?” I asked.
“Any kind of blade or stabbing instrument. Used for slicing or stabbing. You make them differently depending on the purpose.”
“Speaking of purposes: is using a shank the most common method of killing someone in prison?”
“Yes, for killing staff and prisoners.”
“If the purpose is killing someone, what kind of shank is generally used?”
“You base it on what they call an Arkansas toothpick.”
“Which is?”
“An old-style bowie knife (named after Jim Bowie). It’s a long thin double-edged blade, usually six to nine inches long, and it has a handle on it so the whole thing is about twelve to eighteen inches long.”
“How do prisoners obtain shanks?”
“They find the metal”
“From where?”
“From pieces of tables or chairs or anywhere there is metal. Years ago they would use dental floss and Ajax and a little water and they would cut sections from their metal bunks. You get the Ajax wet, make a paste out of it, apply it to the metal, and hold the dental floss and go back and forth with it on the Ajax, and it goes through the metal like a saw. It’s a slow process but it’s not like you’ve got anything other than time on your hands.”
“What other ways to make shanks are there?”
“I’ve seen them made out of TP [toilet paper] and glue, or newspaper and glue, or notepaper and glue.”
“So someone could kill me in here using a paper shank?”
“They’re purely for stabbing.”
“It’s weird to think that someone could kill me with a piece of paper.”
“They have metal tips. If somebody is coming at you with a shank specifically for stabbing with, you know they are serious.”
“Out to kill you?”
“That would be their only purpose”
“How exactly is a paper shank made?”

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Copyright © 2006-2007 Shaun P. Attwood

4 comments:

AD said...

What a fascinating post! It never ceases to amaze me how resourceful people are in such circumstances. What clever innovations prisoners come up with!

joannie said...

While my son was first in the county in isolation, he had nothing to do but watch an inmate nearby make flowers out of toilet tissue, the roll and melted Jolly Ranchers for color.

Gledwood said...

I know David Bowie named himself after a type of knife so that makes sense...

... people seem to think you're going to stop your blog now you're back?

Is that true?

I can't see any reason why you should... C'mon man carry on!!

Jon said...

The blog goes on. Check this out: http://jonsjailjournal.blogspot.com/2007/10/10-october-07-future-of-jons-jail.html