Tucker Telephone

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The Tucker Telephone is a torture device designed using parts from an old-fashioned crank telephone. The electric generator of the telephone is wired in sequence to two dry cell batteries so that the instrument can be used to administer electric shocks to another person. The Tucker Telephone was invented by Dr. A. E. Rollins,[1] the resident physician at the Tucker State Prison Farm, Arkansas, in the 1960s.

At the Tucker State Prison Farm, an inmate would be taken to the "hospital room" where he was most likely restrained to an examining table and two wires would be applied to the prisoner. The ground wire was wrapped around the big toe and the "hot wire" (the wire that administers the current of electricity) would be applied to the genitals. The crank on the phone would then be turned, and an electric current would shoot into the prisoner's body. Continuing with the telephone euphemisms, 'long-distance calls' referred to several such charges, just before the point of losing consciousness. Often the victim would suffer from detrimental effects, mainly permanent organ damage and insanity. Its use was substantiated until 1968.[2]

There are scattered reports from American Vietnam War veterans that field phones were occasionally converted into Tucker Telephones which were used by platoon commanders to torture Viet Cong prisoners.[3]

A version of the device is used on a prisoner in the Robert Redford film Brubaker.

A 1974 report by Seth B. Goldsmith, SCD noted "The Tucker telephone not only shocked the penises of the allegedly uncooperative and incorrigible prison-farm inmates of the Arkansas penal system, but it shocked the consciousness of the nation and awakened it to the atrocious conditions inside prisons."[4]


  1. ^ Murton T. Prison doctors. In: Visscher MB, ed. Humanistic Perspectives in Medical Ethics. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books; 1972: 248-249
  2. ^ James Inciardi, Criminal Justice, Seventh Edition, McGraw-Hill, 2005.
  3. ^ Rejali, Darius M. (2007). Torture and Democracy. Princeton University Press. pp. 191–92. ISBN 0-691-11422-6. 
  4. ^ Goldsmith, S. B. (1974). "The status of prison health care. A review of the literature". Public Health Reports. 89 (6): 569–575. PMC 1434688Freely accessible. PMID 4218907. 

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