RealClearScience Journal Club

Science Figures Interpreted and Analyzed by RealClearScience

Don't Drink Alcohol Made in Prison

By Alex B. Berezow

There are a lot of things you shouldn't do in prison, particularly if you're the former governor of Illinois. For example, don't be a snitch, don't pick fights with people bigger than you and don't steal your cellmate's toothbrush. To that list, one more should be added: Don't drink alcohol your fellow inmates make.

When not shanking each other with knives, prisoners sometimes pass the time by making "pruno," a fermented beverage made from fruit and sugar. There are two downsides to this: (1) It will get you in trouble with the correctional officers and (2) It can give you botulism. (Botulism is due to toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum, a common anaerobic soil bacterium.)

It's probably safe to assume that pruno is commonly made in prisons around the U.S., so it would appear that risk of botulism is fairly low. However, if you do get botulism, you run a fairly high risk (14/25 = 56%) of being intubated -- i.e., having a tube shoved down your throat because you can't breathe.

Hopefully Blago is aware of the risk.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Notes from the Field: Botulism from Drinking Prison-Made Illicit Alcohol -- Arizona, 2012." MMWR 62 (05): 88.

Recent Journal Club

Journal Club Archives