Thankfully, most of us will never have to experience prison and its horrors in our lifetimes.
And let’s all knock on wood that none of us every end up there.
AskReddit users shed some light on the most f*cked up things about prison that the general public doesn’t know about.
1. The rules
“Former prison librarian here.
Dental care – Dentists won’t fill your teeth, they will just pull them. No caps, no implants.
Race – Prisons are still self-segregating in a lot of ways. When I worked in a prison in WV, one dorm had a black TV (controlled only by black inmates) and a white tv (controlled by only white inmates).
Honor culture – If you call someone a name or steal from them, the other person must retaliate to save honor. As a result, you will see a lot of black eyes in prison.
Postage stamps are a form of currency.
Many prisons censor what books come into the institution. At one prison I worked in, The Art of War by Sun Tzu was banned simply because of the title. I assure you that no one in admin had ever read the book.”
“My dad was in prison, in his situation, and in many others, you feel immense guilt after getting to know your fellow inmates. Because you’re gonna get out, and they’re not, ever.”
3. Broken spirit
“A neighbor of mine was locked up for murder and released some time before I was born. It’s one of those things where everyone knew about it but no one talked about it.
I remember him telling me the story of why he was in there and what it was like (very rarely did), and the most surprising thing in his experience was that the smaller/quieter/weaker/more vulnerable in general were typically left alone. It’s only if you acted like a big shot did people want to fight you.
Also, picking fights with said smaller/quieter/weaker/more vulnerable ones will instantly get you a nonstop flogging by other inmates until your spirit broke.”
I had a friend go to prison for a drug related crime. He had his own cell and stuck to himself for the most part. Another inmate shit into a water bottle and filled it to the brim with water and mixed it up into a slush.
Said inmate then took the water bottle to the my friends cell, placed at the slit at the bottom of his cell door, and fucking stomped on it! Shit water sprayed absolutely everywhere… while my friend was in the cell too.”
“A cigarette in prison consists of the following:
Take a regular cigarette out of the pack
Cut the tobacco portion of that cigarette into 4 equal parts
Remove the tobacco from each of those separated portions and reroll it using Bible pages into 4 mini-cigarettes called a “clip”
Sell each clip for $2-$4
A cigarette out of that pack can be sold whole for between $10-$20 each.
Edit: Here is the currency conversion for the prison where I was incarcerated:
1 ramen noodle soup = $1
1 mackerel fish pouch = $1.50
bag of coffee = $8
new bar of Ivory soap = $2
1 pack of duplex cookies = $2
bed made = $1
laundered t shirt = $1
tattoo = $20 – $50 (depends on how many hours spent)
fellatio in far stall = $5
All part of the cigarette/clips/tobacco trade
It was very common for someone to walk around the yard picking up fully Smoked Cigarettes to shake out the last few crumbs of tobacco for rolling into a clip.
Most people were fine just buying a clip or two that would last them for the entire evening. If someone saw you smoking a Cadillac you are either going to have to share that Cadillac or fight. (Again a Cadillac is a full Factory rolled standard cigarette.)”
“With the acoustics of concrete, steel and glass, its not only not quiet noises all the time… it’s LOUD noises all the time. Barely can think in some cell blocks.”
“The most unlikely people are chess masters.”
8. The simplicity
“When you get out you miss the simplicity of choices.
When you are in all you think about is getting out and what you will do when that happens. Everything focuses around this.
When you are out, at first, the input is enormous and a small part of you miss the simplicity. 🙂 “
“When you get out, the feeling of soft carpet on your bare feet is borderline orgasmic and you’ll never take it for granted again.”
“Don’t get sick! You’ll probably die a horrible death.”
“Guards can and will withhold medical treatment. When I was in county jail, there was an older woman, vomiting profusely. She couldn’t keep water down, her skin was tenting and she was hallucinating.
I explained all this to the guards and that she needed medical treatment immediately. For two days she was like that until I transferred out. I have no idea what happened to that woman and I still think about her. This was in Georgia, USA.”
12. GOT is everywhere
“On a slightly lighter side, a sort of family friend recently got out of prison after ~18 years for holding up a gas station for drug money.
My uncle was his friend and when the guy got out my uncle said “Man, there’s this show you’re gonna love called Game of Thrones.”. The guy laughed and said he was current on it. The in-prison black market was his source for a tiny ~2 inch battery powered screen and microSD cards with the episodes on it.
Every now and then it would be confiscated as contraband and he’d have to save up for a month to buy another.
He also had a prison-cat that knew to leave his cell before morning activities and to come back after lights out, he’d feed it little chunks of meat he smuggled out of the mess hall. One big thing for him was making sure to train the cat who to go to next because there’s definitely some people that would have killed it just for the unique experience.”
13. Sounds terrible
“You never wake up feeling safe, ever. There is so much hanging over your head that you may not be in control of that the stress level is through the roof.”
“The lifers are usually the nicest people you will meet while you are there. This is their home, this is their whole world. Most of them try to make it as pleasant for themselves as possible.”
15. A business
“The fact that literally every single aspect of the infrastructure is setup to be for-profit, to exploit your family. From arrest quotas, to plea deal quotas, to the corporate run phone system, the prison labor gimmick slave labor used to make PRODUCTS FOR COMPANY PROFIT, not to better the community or help society.
Prison is a business, a corrupt, criminal, awful business run by politicians and special interests that are more evil than the inmates.”