"I'd fight it to the end. I'm not going to give in. So I wouldn't even be thinking of a final meal. That would mean I gave up. If I'm innocent, I'm going kicking and screaming the whole way. My final meal would be whomever's trying to put the handcuffs on me!"
Denzel Washington - Actor
It's impressive to see that Denzel is just as badass in real life as he is punishing bad guys on the big screen. While ChowFu is mainly a food blog, we want to take each of our celebrity answers as seriously as possible. So let's take a deep dive into the world of capital punishment and prison escapes!
Dont worry. We're going to teach you how to get out of those pesky handcuffs in our RECIPE page. In the meantime, our "researchers" have compiled....
Jack Sheppard spent most of his early life working as a carpenter in 18th century London. But finding the tavern too hard to resist, Sheppard slipped into a short life of crime, stealing from everyone in his neighborhood. On April 24th, 1724, Sheppard was arrested and imprisoned at a local prison. Within three hours, he managed to break through the timber ceiling of the roundhouse and, using a rope made of bedclothes, lowered himself to the ground. Thus began the story that transformed Jack Sheppard from a petty theif to one of Britain's most infamous criminals.
Not having learned his lesson, Jack Sheppard would be arrested again on May 19th, escaping on May 25th (again using bedclothes tied into knots). Rearrested on August 12th, to escape on August 31st. Arrested on September 9th, only to break out for the fourth time on October 15th. His luck ran out when he was arrested on October 29th, and finally executed by hanging on November 16th.
While knots is not our strong suit at ChowFu, we scoured the internets and came up with this highly recommended BOOK on the subject, for those who require some supplemental reading material. [Note: The link provided is an affiliate link to Amazon. If you want to help support ChowFu.co and subsidize the cost of running our website, just click on the link above when you do your regular Amazon shopping. It comes at no cost to you and we get some credit from Amazon for the referral! Furthermore, we only link to items we own and highly recommend.]
Perhaps even more deadly than the lethal injection that lies at the end of a death row sentence, is the monotony of day to day life as a death row inmate. While a physical escape may not be in everyone's cards (not all of us can be Denzel Washington), no guard can stop your mind from settling into a better place. In 1982, Stephen King published a collection of four novellas (combined into one book named Different Seasons), three of which were later made into popular film adaptations. Included in this list is one of the most powerful prison stories of our generation, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. File critic Roger Ebert said this of The Shawshank Redemption (the film):
"The Shawshank Redemption" is not a depressing story, although I may have made it sound that way. There is a lot of life and humor in it, and warmth in the friendship that builds up between Andy and Red. There is even excitement and suspense, although not when we expect it. But mostly the film is an allegory about holding onto a sense of personal worth, despite everything. If the film is perhaps a little slow in its middle passages, maybe that is part of the idea, too, to give us a sense of the leaden passage of time, before the glory of the final redemption."
Creativity is key when it comes to escaping prison, and Steven Jay Russell might just win the award for having some of the most creative escapes ever documented. A con artist by trade (is that a trade??), Russell has escaped from prison multiple times, each time using a technique more ridiculous than the last. In one of his many successful attempts at freedom, Russell hoarded a bunch of green highlighters at the prison. He then used his cell toilet to dye a spare prison uniform green such that it resembled a doctor's scrubs. Dressed in his new attire, he plainly walked his way out the front door and into freedom. He would later be arrested and found trying his luck at a Mississippi casino.
The story of his crazy life in and out of prison was made into a well received (but unfortunately not highly popular) movie in 2009 (staring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor), called I Love You Phillip Morris.
Alaska, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconson.
These 18 US states have NO Death Penalty, and no need to worry about missing out on the latest celebrity last meal! Right On!!
Beyond all else, escaping death row is going to require stealth and unconventional tactics, which aligns perfectly with the Japanese martial art discipline of Ninjutsu.
We found numerious ninja training sessions across the US, but for the hardcore deshi (Japanese for "disciple"), the art of ninjutsu will require traveling to the Japanese city of Iga, just east of Osaka. It is here that the Iga-ryu ninja clan fought against the Shogun during the 16th century. The Iga-ryu Ninja Museum was established in 1964 to educate and preserve the history of the ninja in Japan. More impressively, a camp in Iga offers novices the critical skills of ninjutsu warfare, from throwing ninja stars to stealthily climbing walls or fording a river by rope.
For more information, visit the museum home page here
For those who want to practice their ninja throwing skills without splurging on a ticket to Japan, try this Ninja Kunai Knife Set from Whetston Cutlery for a mere five bucks! (as of September 27th, 2014)
In 1983, Ronald Post was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of an Ohio hotel clerk, Helen Vantz. In 2012, shortly before his execution, Post's attorney filed federal court papers alleging that his execution would pose severe problems based on his size. Post clocked in at 480lbs (217kg) and argued that his weight would make it too difficult for the execution team to find his veins for lethal injection. Without directly engaging in that debate, Governor John Kasich granted Post clemency a few months later on the grounds of poor legal representation. The story doesn't end well for Post, however, as he dies merely seven months after being granted clemency. While the reasons for his death were not revealed due to privacy laws, it shouldn't surprise anyone that eating your way out of death row may cause some not so pleasant health effects.
Sometimes the best way to change the outcome of the law is to change the law itself. The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP) is the nation's oldest organization dedicated to ending the death penalty in the United States. Partnering with the ACLU, the NCADP has led the voice of 90 million Americans who believe in ending capital punishment. To join their effort, sign the petition and make yourself heard:
As Denzel seems to know, the first step to freedom is to get rid of those pesky handcuffs. To do that only requires a modicum of lock picking skills and a lot of patience. You can find the dirty details on your escape in our RECIPE section. From YouTube videos to step-by-step manuals, escaping from handcuffs seem just as popular now as it had been during the times of Harry Houdinin. In fact, Houdini spent his early years as a struggling magician until his handcuff routine found traction and he became famously known as "The Handcuff King"
Our loyal readers can no doubt earn some extra credit by practicing your own Handcuff King routine. Get your own set of police cuffs here along with the CIA's own field operative training manual for lock picking here.
Pascal Payet was sentenced to 30 years in jail for murder during a 1997 robbery in France. Dissatisfied with such a long sentence, Payet escaped from prison in 2001 on board a hijacked helicopter. Almost two years later, Payet would use the same helicopter trick to break three of his other criminal friends out of a different French prison. To his dismay, they would all be caught a mere three weeks later. In 2007, Payet would be broken free of solitary confinement after four masked men hijacked yet ANOTHER helicopter to rescue him (stick with what works, right?). He was recaptured two months later and has since been imprisoned in a secret location to avoid further attempts to freedom. For his additional escapes, Payet would recieve an extra 33 years in prison.
To make your own dramatic escape on board a helicopter, look no further than these eBay entries for helicopter sales:
Most people have heard that Texas is pretty unforgiving when it comes to the death penalty. The numbers don't lie. There have been 517 executions in Texas since 1976. That means 37% of all executions in the United States occur in Texas! Within that period, only 12 death row inmates have been exonerated by the state with evidence of their innocence. This means that once you're on death row, you have about a 2% chance of fighting your way (through the legal system) to freedom!