In 2009, nearly 2.5 million citizens in the United States were incarcerated in federal and state jails and prisons. And in most of those correctional palaces, everyday things that were taken for granted on the outside are banned, from lighters to cooking grills. But that doesn't stop some ingenious inmates from improvising a few familiar devices from the land of the free.
With hours on end spent within a cramped cell, there's no limit to what one can conjure up. If they can acquire the right materials, they can build some really cool MacGyver-esque things. Sometimes it's luxurious, like a device for lighting up a cigarette. Sometimes it's essential, like a weapon that protects from the advances of another inmate. And sometimes it's something Michael Scofield would think up in Prison Break—an escape tool to shave some time off their prison sentence.
Below is a compilation of some of these clever convict inventions, from simple handmade contraband to improvised weapons. Some of these items were constructed in the U.S., but the majority of this jailhouse tech was conceived behind bars in other countries, like Germany and Mexico, where life isn't so easy for detainees.