|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (December 2012)|
Invented in the early 19th century, the tramp chair was a cage made of bent and riveted metal strapping into the shape of a chair. An individual could be placed inside the chair and locked up securely, the chair thus acting as a jail cell, particularly in towns too small to build a jail. It was sometimes placed on a wheeled platform so it could be moved around easily.
As its name suggests, the tramp chair was often used for vagrants who could be left inside it for a day or two as encouragement to move along. Made of iron, it would heat up or cool down uncomfortably depending on the weather, and town residents could jeer at and harass the occupant. It left no room to move around, so would be very uncomfortable to sit in for a prolonged stretch of time. The American Police Hall of Fame and Police Museum in Miami states that "often the prisoner was stripped naked and the kids from the area would poke him with sticks."
The first person ever known to escape from this device was escapologist Theo Hardeen, the brother of Harry Houdini.
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