Former Inmates Disclose Which Things People On The Outside Wouldn't Understand About Prison
boston_nsca/Reddit

Being a law-abiding citizen shouldn't be that difficult.

As long as people obey the rules, maintain their morals, and avoid making extremely bad decisions, they will never see the walls inside a prison cell.


Unfortunately, people do often break the law and find themselves in the slammer where their contemplations on life choices come a little too late.

But now that they have nowhere to go, what is the wisdom inmates acquire?

Curious to hear what some of those might be, Redditor Max_Fenig asked:

"Former inmates of Reddit, what are some things about prison that people outside wouldn't understand?"

Many speculations about life behind bars are confirmed here.

Low IQ

"Some of the people that I met inside are really dumb.... For example there were strangely a lot of people that didn't believe in dinosaurs..."

– JacobWesleyMartin

Boredom

"how boring it is. you spend your entire time just waiting. waiting for court. waiting for a sentence. waiting to get out. it’s a level of boredom i never want to experience again."

– Necessary-Rabbit-340

Misery Loves Company

"Starchy food and a lack of dental care."

– tacopony_789

Waiting In Lines

"Seriously. Between regular prison stuff, it's all just waiting in lines. Picking up commissary? Go wait in line. Doctors appointment? We'll wake you up at 4am so you can go wait in line. (Also, why did the doctors always have to check me out at 4am? One time, they woke me up for medical and for a split sec I didn't know where I was so I just put my hands down my pants and went back to sleep. Guards just laughed and told me to wake my a** up...lol)"

– nnnoooeee

Like A Psych Ward

"No kidding. Your feeling of helplessness is so intense. I sat there thinking I was just a bit down and sad. So now you lock me up and treat me like child and expect me to suddenly be happy? I didn't gain anything from it except learning to keep my sadness to myself and not reach out for help."

"Left the place barely being able to function from my depression to being so drugged up I could barely function. No change in my status to society etc. Just a change in the cause."

– Ashotep

A Learning Experience For The Family

"Being institutionalized in general is something the general public would not understand, I remember when my uncle got out after serving a 10 year sentence we had to explain to the kids they couldn’t just wake him up like normal bc he may wake up violent or scared, we had to tell the kids not to scream or take anything from his room, he was on a strict schedule even after being released (wake up at 5am, work out, sweep, read, eat, etc etc EVERY DAY same schedule. He would set new boundaries which we respected. It was a learning experience for the entire family, even to this day his schedule remains the same, he’s having a hard time getting a job because of certain things. It’s actually interesting."

– Ufakefeufaka

Some former inmates miss the established sense of order and the mundanity of life in prison.

Weird Kind Of Freedom

"Sometimes you miss it once you're out."

"There are some days where I just feel defeated by the daily stresses of life, and I remember being able to wake up every day and not really have to worry about a lot of things: I don't have rent or utilities to pay, I don't have to go grocery shopping, I don't have to do yard work, I don't have to keep a schedule of places to be and worry about making sure I have enough time to get from place to place or anything. It was a weird kind of freedom while being extremely un-free."

– bstyledevi

The School Analogy

"I think this is part of what I miss about being a kid. School was like an optimistic 'prison' in that we were told what to do and when. But that in itself was freeing, because I didn’t have to worry about planning the day, or my life. I didn’t miss out on things bc we all went to the same things. It felt like the guidance we had would make everything turn out okay."

"This is part of what’s difficult about being an adult, that you don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t know if youre making the best choices, you constantly fear missing out on other things while doing anything, you got no guarantee of social interaction with others. People aren’t trusting of you by default, and every first interaction is an attempt to convince people that you’re a good enough person to engage with."

"Someone’s always there to catch you from falling and help you out in school as a kid. As an adult, there’s no safety net, no one’s coming to save you, because you’re on your own."

– ItActuallyIsGullible

Going Through The Motions

"Yeah, its so easy once you get used to it. Everything is figured out for you, you got a stable rutine and there are clear rules and bounderies. Also you usually have a tight group of friends that you share everything with."

"I spend a year in the army as a conscript and I was pretty down after it ended, because I had to return to a life of a young man where everything was still so unclear and difficult."

– ManyPerformance9608

Finding A Community

"Honestly, it's not always so bad. These days there are so many drug addicts in low sec prisons that they sometimes group them together in the same blocks. I was one of them, and everyone was respectful and friendly. When I got there I was in full opiate withdrawal and my cell mates gave me food and comfort to help me get through it. This is not always the case, for sure, but I've dealt with worse people on the outside than when I was locked up."

– boston_nsca

A "Secure Existence"

"As sad as it may sound, for some people prison is the first stable and secure existence they've ever known. That's why there needs to be strong programs to help young kids who end up there learn how to live in a normal society. Otherwise, yeah they either become institutionalized or they just get into the revolving door of becoming a career criminal."

– zerbey

Teacher's Allies

"My mom taught classes in a prison after she retired. She said that since classes were a privilege they had to earn, all of her students were very well behaved."

"Mom also said that if she needed someone murdered, many of her students told her they could take care of that for her."

– teneggomelet

For the most part, ex-cons believed the reality of life in prison didn't closely reflect Hollywood depictions.

Don't Rock The Boat

"Ex-Con here. One thing about Prison I feel like people don’t understand when I tell them my story is that Prison (at least for me) isn’t entirely like what it is in the media. Yeah sure there is Riots, Yard fights, people get shanked, and there scary dudes who look like they want to kill you but in reality they just look mean and scary as a way to protect themselves. For instance there was this big tough dude who was actually a chill dude and got cigs and stuff for others guys if you treated him right. So in reality if you treat other inmates right and don’t bad mouth anyone then you’ll be fine. Just don’t do the what the 'skinny idiot' did, and that is act all SUPER tough and get in peoples faces because that is what will get you beaten up."

– Suitable_Panic_7558

Surprising Civility

"Prison society is exceptionally polite 99% of the time. Inmates have some of the best manners of anyone you will ever interact with. They hold doors for the next person even if they are far away and have to wait. They say please and thank you. They do not insult each other or show disrespect."

"If you are ever in prison and see inmates acting impolite towards each other, get the f'k out of there. That 1% when it's not polite is extraordinarily violent and dangerous."

– Duke_Shambles

Unexpected Comfort

"I'll take a different angle on this instead of the usual horror stories, as violent and crazy as it was, there were a lot of good parts too. As someone that has had a pretty chaotic life, having a secure day to day life, employment and lots of trusted friends around me for a few years was really nice."

"There's a certain level of comfort that comes with being surrounded by murderers that you're actually friends with, new inmates come and go but you're tucked away in the long term unit where there's a 3 month waiting list to even apply to transfer in, it really was a very peaceful experience for me."

– Totallycasual

Makeshift Chinese Cuisine

"You can make 'Chinese food' out of pork rinds, dehydrated rice, hot sauce, instant tea mix, and some other ingredients im forgetting. For some odd reason my mouth is watering thinking about it because in there it was the most delicious thing ever. Now that I’ve been out for three years I’m positive I would be repulsed if I tried to eat it."

– Donnaaahh

Based on the majority of what was shared here, it may seem those of us who have never served a sentence have wrongful impressions of life behind bars.

We just have to take their word for it.

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