HENRY EARL: World’s most arrested man

If ever you find yourself pulled over while driving and served a speeding ticket, or a police officer confiscates your Prosecco outside your local pub because they think you look out of it, the following fact may well give you a small amount of consolation the next time you run into the ‘po-po’.

According to the Facts In Your Face Twitter account, the world’s most often arrested individual is a Mr. Henry Earl. He has been detained by police and sent to jail more than 1,500 times since 1970, mostly for public intoxication, in other words, being completely drunk…trolleyed…smashed…legless….sizzerped…on the streets.

Earl, who is also known by the alias James Brown, is a 64-year-old resident of the city of Lexington, Kentucky state, USA. Sadly his drinking addiction has seen him booked over 900 times alone in the past thirteen years, but the upside is that he has achieved a sort of cult status. There is even a website dedicate to his in-and-out-of-prison stats, named “What’s up with Henry Earl?”

“He likes to get drunk a lot. And he gets busted a lot. As in “900+ times in the last 13 years” a lot. He spends roughly twice as much of his life in jail as out. His rap sheet is pages and pages long. Henry would surely take the gold in any Boozer Olympics competition.” – Wee’s News.

Earl has so far spent 4,618 days inside for 1,030 catalogued offences. His average time spent in jail per year is 243 days, and in an average week, this gentleman will be eating cold porridge for 4.5 days and tasting sweet freedom instead for only two days. He has sadly spent several Christmases, Thanksgivings and birthdays behind bars.

Not much is known about him, but his first arrest was in July 1970 at the age of 20 for carrying a weapon. He is believed to be homeless and one local who has spoken with Earl believes that he has mental health issues and criticised the level of mental healthcare in the United States. Local officers have been accused of constantly picking on Earl and seeing him as an easy arrest, although they say he is detained for his own safety. Earl himself had often provoked matters by hurling people’s drinks onto police cars to score a ‘free ride’ to the cells. He has allegedly even asked local shopkeepers in the town of 300,000 to call the police even though he had not committed any crime. He is renowned for his bubbly personality, fierce independent streak and many tales to those who take the time to listen to him.

He often visited local fast food restaurants and would dance and tell jokes in order to get some money for a meal or alcohol fix. People likened him to the suave crooner James Brown, whose name Earl unofficially adopted. He is also beleived to have served in his homeland’s armed forces and was said to have survived a near-fatal head wound from an explosive device while going through a secret tunnel during the Vietnam War. Many of Lexington’s inhabitants and even some of the police officers have a high regard and fondness for Henry Earl and see him as a quirky local institution. One person who often encountered him at a local shelter, Ginny Ramsey, a co-founder of Lexington’s Catholic Action Center, told CNN: “You can’t help but love him, I tell you.

“He’s as honest as the day is long. With Henry Earl, you’re going to hear the truth.”

His cult status has won him a few thousand fans around the world, and a massive headache for the police force serving Fayette County, where Mr. Earl earns most of his infractions. The county jail, as is normal for American correctional facilities and police forces, posts ‘mugshots’ of their offenders. They apparently have tonnes of pictures of Henry. His impressive arrest tally forced Fayette County jailers to ask the owner of the popular sharing website Fark to cease linking to their offender databases as the thousands of visits were causing their servers to crash.

He now has his own theme song, fan videos and even a Firefox browser extension. You can also follow his status via RSS feeds.

In 2009, he was nearly successfully free from the demon drink in an alcohol recovery programme he was placed onto by the courts, but hit the bottle again after five months and a few days short of his graduation from the course, which would have entitled him to a home and food stamps. Currently he is still in jail, but the Lexington Catholic Action Center are trying to help Earl with his booze addiction and stop him from ever returning to the slammer again. 

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Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
Facts In Your Face, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/FactsInYourFace
What’s up with Henry Earl?, Wee’s News http://www.monkeygumbo.com/wee/news/henryearl/
“Thanksgiving In Jail For World’s Most Busted Man” – the smoking gun/TSG Industries Inc. (27 November 2013) http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/drunk/a-henry-earl-thanksgiving-756903
“World’s ‘most arrested man’ nicknamed ‘James Brown’ faces Christmas in prison AGAIN” – Simon Austin, Mirror (Daily Mirror) – News – Prisons/Mirror Online (5 December 2013) http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/henry-earl-worlds-most-arrested-2893792
“Christmas in the clink? Most arrested man goes before judge to hear if he’ll celebrate the holidays in jail” – Ashley Collman & Helen Pow, MailOnline News, Daily Mail/Associated Newspapers Ltd (5 December 2013) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2518767/Henry-Earl-hearing-Most-arrested-man-goes-judge-hear-hell-celebrate-holidays-jail.html
“Most-arrested man to face judge as friends hope for ‘Christmas miracle'” – Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN International Edition – Regions – U.S./Cable News Network/Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (4 December 2013) http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/04/us/kentucky-henry-earl-most-arrested/
“Henry Earl (a.k.a. “James Brown”) 1000th arrest” – teveeschmeevee, YouTube GB (25 September 2008) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2ahSLnd_6U


London, a leader among the world’s cities. A population of eight million.

Frantic, busy, popular, cultural, fast, slow. A giant urban sprawl where everything runs at breakneck speed and even life can ill-afford to catch a breath. People go past each other in a flurry of activity, not a glance or a smile. No-one asks about anyone else, their fortunes or their misfortunes. For those with no fortune in life, the loneliness and dismissal is even more profound. Aside from the casual toss of coins or the countless stares and avoided looks, those who take the streets as home feel as invisible and inconsequential as ever.

Out of many voices, one is captured. On a simple piece of nondescript cardboard, an anonymous individual asks for help. Not to buy a sandwich or get twenty pence for a phonecall, but to feel what the luckier ones feel. Eager to sample the delights of one of the city’s upmarket restaurants or for people to wish him a simple ‘happy birthday’, the owner of the mysterious sign pleads for assistance from a known, yet invisible public. To realise an ambition, just a helping hand to make it happen.


Behind the cardboard voices, capturing the less-photographed side of London and making a social stand against poverty, is a new artist and blogger, known only by the pseudonym ‘IMPREINT’. His latest project sees a visual night-time trip to the nooks and crannies beyond where most tourists and Londoners venture and where their eyes pass over. The solitary cardboard sign, with its well-written and urgent message, is part of IMPREINT’s latest photographic project, entitled CUT OFF – an acknowledgement of the invisible, the homeless, the forgotten – and their ambitions and desires. Taken among the city lights under the cover of night amid London’s distinctive red phone boxes and its bright lights, IMPREINT preserves with their camera the wishes of a down-and-out asking to be accepted and noticed by society. We see neither the sign’s creator nor the audience, but the loudness of the sign holder’s dream rings true amid the serenity and harshness of London’s cold grey streets.

CUT OFF is a long-time concern for the artist, who had previously exhibited works under the titles of “The Space” and “The White Frame Collection”, since his career began more than five years ago. Seeing a world where people were just asking and giving, IMPREINT felt something was wrong. He thought that rather than a give-or-take situation which is the norm regarding the homeless, it needed to be more about equality and letting them speak for themselves. The piece of cardboard became a metaphorical message, a symbol of seeking opportunity to change its owner’s condition while doing their best to bring about that change. Work on the CUT OFF project began in January 2015, which saw IMPREINT take to the streets of London with cardboard signs in tow. While more comfortable with paint and found objects, IMPREINT saw no challenge in arming themselves with a smartphone and camera and getting down and personal with London’s pavements to capture the images for CUT OFF.

CUT OFF is a project that works in its simplicity, yet subtly laced with a deep message. In one way, IMPREINT forces us to confront this reality of life without thrusting it into our faces. While popular culture and urban living has forever linked the homeless person with the cardboard sign, IMPREINT’s work challenges us to sit up and take notice of these often ignored signs, set amid the empty domains of those without roofs. By making the homeless the focus of CUT OFF, IMPREINT has reached out to society in its own terms, making art that opens people’s eyes to the harsh world of street living. IMPREINT has done well in a theme where many artists fear to tread, that of making art reflect on the more negative attributes of society. Not simply to show it on a white wall and say ‘ this is it!’ but to stir in the viewer a need to change their outlook, and perhaps, do something about it.

Cut off IMPREINT (3)


The artist began their work in the UAE in December 2009, with a wish to make art not just something to be sold at auction or admired by gallery visitors, but to make a social impact, benefitting society and not just depicting it. IMPREINT themselves transcends the default role of artist as name and brand, seeing themselves as not just a person, but a concept stretching far beyond the individual. IMPREINT has exhibited at impromptu art galleries and spaces of creativity all over London, as well as self-created international shows in places such as India, Spain and Hungary.


Official site: http://www.impreint.com/

Blog: https://impreintofficial.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IMPREINTofficial/


Many thanks to Napsugar Budai for setting up the collaboration and supplying images for this article.


IMPREINT http://www.impreint.com/
“EXHIBITIONS” – IMPREINT http://www.impreint.com/#!exhibitions/c236g
“Reviews” – IMPREINT, IMPREINTofficial https://impreintofficial.wordpress.com/reviews/
“PROJECTS” – IMPREINT http://www.impreint.com/#!projects/c20iw
“IMPREINT – CUT OFF” – Napsugar Budai (5 January 2015) https://napsugarzas.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/impreint-cut-off/
Photos by IMPREINT and supplied by Napsugar Budai.