Prison is no place you want to be.
It's a hard, cold, dangerous environment.
Many people try to make the best of it.
What else can you do?
One would be surprised what useful tidbits follow one past the bars.
Redditor youknowyoulick wanted to hear from those that have done a little time by asking about how free life and jail life can be useful to one another. They asked:
"People who have been in jail, what habits do you still do today that you learned from being in lockup?"
I've met a few people who did time and utilized it to learn. It's always possible.
No Bumpingbuster keaton GIFGiphy
"When my dad came home from prison I remember him being very polite .He was careful not to bump anybody, and he always said excuse me if he were trying to pass somebody."
"The dorm pod I was in had metal stairs that made loud noises when you walked down them. Almost got in a fight with 3 other people because I woke up at night and had to piss and woke everyone up. To this day I can't fall asleep without peeing immediately before laying down. Like, even if I went less than an hour earlier I have to stand there and focus with yogi-like intensity to squeeze a few drops out or I lay awake feeling like my bladder is full."
"I can play Spades a bit better now."
"Man I got really good at spades in there. Played constantly. Had 400 packets of ramen at one point, then people stopped wanting to play me and my partner."
"I can never find anyone who knows how to play spades and it is very frustrating. Hokm is a game with almost the exact same rules, except spades is not necessarily the high suit. Cards are dealt face up at the beginning and whoever gets the first ace, after being dealt the first hand of five cards, chooses the high suit. The rest of the hand is then dealt and the game proceeds."
"Man jail-house chess players are fun opponents. They can play some stupid s**t that ends up transposing into a solid mainline. I'll be like, how can I punish this? then all of a sudden be like, oh we're here?"
"Wow, that's funny you should mention that. I was talking to a US chess champion in a bookstore once (chance encounter) who regularly played against dozens of people for charity. He randomly mentioned that people who learned in jail were very tricky because it was all nonstandard stuff and lots of tricks and traps. But said he always beats them anyway."
In BetweenSalt Bae Sugar GIF by TruviaGiphy
"Save every extra sugar packet I come across in case I get hungry between meals."
Well it sounds like there are skills to be acquired while the time goes by.
Food NeedsMr Bean Eating GIFGiphy
"Eating fast. Too fast honestly."
"Picked this up in the military and 14 years later I still scarf my food down like the worlds ending."
Use of Space
"My bedroom is basically set up like my old cell. In my bedroom I have everything at arms length. I sit with my back to the wall when I'm out. I still pace back and forth in small spaces."
"My boyfriend still does all of this too. He also sleeps with a crow bar or a bat next to the bed and gets super on edge when someone comes walking up behind him. When we go out to eat he always needs to be facing the door. I get annoyed with it sometimes but when he explains how we've both had very different live experiences it really puts it into context."
"Being entertained doing absolutely nothing like staring at a wall I just don’t get bored anymore."
"I was put on three months bed rest at the start of 2020, and I learned this skill. I’m honestly never bored. Ever. I’m not someone who’s really ever been bored much to begin with. I would spend hours thinking about everything and nothing and staring at the trees out my window. Very healing actually."
"I did 12 years in a state institution. The only really strange thing to me was answering the telephone. First off, you don't receive calls. Second, once the call connects, you can hear them say hello and then a prompt plays letting them know the call is recorded and what not before you then say hello. For about a year people would answer when I call them and I would wait for the recording to play before responding."
Senses UpSpider-Man What GIF by Caleb Linden DesignGiphy
"Hypervigilant. Size up everyone everywhere I go. Especially public transport and public spaces."
This are some very interesting habits they've picked up.
Do you have similar stories? Let us know in the comments below.
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Prison is not a fun place.
That is obvious. But it's a good reminder, as to stay on the straight and narrow.
There are unspoken rules and ways to live once you're on the inside.
If you want to live or not be extra traumatized, there are things to learn.
Hopefully none of us find ourselves there but just in case...
Redditor Jujhar_Singh wanted to hear some advice about life in the big house. They asked:
"Ex prisoners of Reddit, what are some of the best tips to survive the first week in prison?"
I know nothing about jail. Thank God, so this should be interesting.
Head DownTv Show Prison GIF by Animal Kingdom on TNTGiphy
"Dot start crap and keep to your own. Keep to yourself/a SMALL group of people."
"Probably like me, do everything by yourself, never expect anything from anyone, try to not talk about things that they can use to hurt you, etc."
It’s not worth it...
"As a supervisor in a level 4 prison... DON'T put yourself in ANY kind of debt EVER."
"I second this! Also if you don’t do drugs on the outside, don’t do them on the inside. Quick way to run up a debt and then you’re addicted and they’ve got you. I’ve had families call in to the facility because inmates are calling them at home to pay their incarcerated loved ones debt."
"As someone who has listened to many scared moms, wives, etc crying and sobbing on the phone please don’t put them through that. Also you have no idea if what you’re taking isn’t cut with something far more dangerous. Lastly I’ve seen way too many men come in with no drug habits or charges, leave with drug habits, then come back because of drug charges. It’s not worth it, once you’ve done your time, to the best of your ability stay out for you and your loved ones."
“I own you now”
"If you find a candy bar on your bunk, DON'T even touch it."
"If you goto a federal prison in Georgia they show you a video thats gives you information on what to do and what not to do once you go in. There’s a skit of a prisoner walking into his cell and finding a candy bar on a bed. He eats it and his cellmate comes in and tells him 'I own you now.' Basically teaching to prevent yourself from getting owned."
"Don't take favors from anyone cause they'll expect one back."
"Haven’t been to prison but had a work colleague who would do favours for me that I hadn’t asked for and then months later would be I did such and such for you now you have to do this for me or else."
"Things like giving me random items from home etc. I started very much trying to refuse everything and she would get extremely rude and demand I took whatever favour/gift it was. She made working there very unpleasant. When I left that job I never talked to her again."
Poop Timescared eric cartman GIF by South Park Giphy
"If you’re taking a crap, take one leg out of your pants/shorts. You are vulnerable on the toilet. Best to not get tripped up if you have to react to a spontaneous assault."
Those are all good things to know, should we find ourselves in a predicament.
Hellthe shawshank redemption escape GIFGiphy
"Don’t mess with the COs the guards will make your life hell more than inmates."
"Spend your time in county working out. A lot of people hit prison and didn't work out at all in county. The big guys can be pretty rough and they'll test you(usually in a joking way) and you don't want to b*tch out. Don't cause problems and work out so you look like you can handle yourself and you should be fine. People will generally try to find easy targets. Don't be one of them."
"Always, always fight back. Even if you know you’ll get your a** beat. No matter what, fight back. They’ll see you’re not an easy target compared to someone who doesn’t defend themselves or else they’ll continue to harass you."
"I'm small and did almost 4 years and never got in a fight. Almost did once, and I told the guy I probably wouldn't win, but he wouldn't want his friends knowing who f**ked him up that bad. He got a strange look on his face and slowly walked away. This was at a minimum security prison, I don't think this would have worked on the max yard. But I still wouldn't go down without leaving a mark."
Chow Time Fun
"A coworker was in jail for about a year after getting caught selling pot. He said the crucial test was when someone messed with his food. He had his tray of chow, and some young guy smacked it out of his hands. He immediately started wailing on the guy."
No Onethe dark knight head GIFGiphy
"Get bigger before going in don't give anyone your food, sneeze inside your shirt hygiene is a pretty big thing. No one inside is your friend."
Start with Respect
"Be respectful but never let somebody take advantage of you. You will get tested as soon as you come in. Prisoners can spot somebody who has never done time from a mile away. You need to stand up for yourself right away. Don’t gamble. Never borrow anything you can’t pay back."
"You will probably need to stick with your race. Stay off the guards radar. Blending in is your best bet. Never talk to a guard alone, especially if something has happened that they are looking for information on, even if you have no intention of snitching. Don’t befriend sex offenders."
"My buddy did some hard time in maximum, was amongst killers. He said most of the guys that were in there killed their wives, like 80% of them, those dudes were struggling everyday against the gang members, then said he got stabbed with a tooth brush for not f**king with people of his race, it happened in front of 2 guards while they were transferring him out of the prison."
"Had some other stories to share as well, but the point was that the guards are not there to protect you and if you're gonna be f**ked with, that's how it's gonna be."
Life of the Barracks
"Once you get to your barracks, stick to yourself and just watch and see how everyone else interacts with others, get a sense for who's on some bullshit and who's doing their time right. Don't accept anything free from anyone, it's never actually free. Like others have said, don't just give away your stuff either, just brings stress and trouble."
"Respect and how you carry yourself are key. As for fighting, it's gonna happen and usually it's to test you. If you stand up for yourself, it doesn't really matter if you win or lose, just so long as you'll fight. I wouldn't recommend using drugs, you never know what you're truly getting and drugs just brings trouble. If you're not in a gang, avoid joining up if possible."
Be on high alert...
"First week!!! Be on high alert. Don’t turn your back to anyone. Assume everyone is your enemy while pretending to be a friend. Don’t make calls to the outside. Don’t order canteen. Don’t let anyone know who you really are. Don’t play any games. Just shower, workout, eat, read, and stay in your cell."
Means to an End
"My father is a hippie and one of the kindest people you would ever meet. In the late 60’s he went to prison for selling weed for two years. First week in someone tried to assault him. He beat the guy up so bad that he lost an eye and had to have his jaw rewired. My dad said he felt bad because the guy acted a little off after that but he said from that day forward not one single person messed with him. His advice has always been don’t fight but if you are forced too then make it count."
Flushfinger toilet GIF by BuzzFeed AnimationGiphy
"I’ve never been but my father who did a few years told me that when you’re on the toilet in the same room as your bunky to flush as soon as something hits that water. I assume if you stink up the cell then your bunky might want to hurt you."
"Tell all the other prisoners, 'hey guys, let’s just be nice to each other and maybe prison won’t be so bad!' They’ll all put on a why didn’t I think of that before kind of face before one guy starts a slow clap that turns into an erupting applause from everyone. High fives all around. Guards are all in tears. Warden comes up to you and kisses you on the forehead."
Read it All...
"Get a book. You can use the spine of a large book as a cudgel. Last resort though because you’ll probably lose reading privileges. Plus reading will help you mind your own business and stay out of trouble. Books make good friends, cons don’t."
"Don't let anyone see your phone code. A lot of prisons use stuff like Pay-tel and the time you buy is loaded into an account and then you use the same code before you dial out. If someone sees you put your code in, they can use up all your minutes. The CO's could investigate it and find out who used it, but they probably won't."
Good luck to anyone doing time.
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Let's face it, jail is the last place you would want to wind up.
Former convicts who have been sentenced to time in prison can vouch for the harrowing stories of violence that are often depicted on film and TV.
But in addition to the savage attacks and violence that are commonplace while in the slammer, ex-cons could also recall being tormented by extreme boredom and eating inadequate portions of bland food.
Canned fruit, cream of wheat, and unsweetened grits, anyone? Yum.
The following former inmates described what life was like during their time in confinement, and shared their stories when Redditor Between3N20Karakters asked:
The Friendly Murderer
"In prison in Colorado I was roomed with a guy who killed his wife and her lover and split his own throat yet he was a really nice person to me. There are gangs of every variety and it was hard."
"24 days in county in Florida. I read 27 books while I was there. I didn't get my first book till my third day. It's an indescribable level of boredom. I only stopped reading when I could no longer find a comfortable position for myself. I also wrote about 40 pages of notes/diary entries, which is something I had never done before."
"I'll just tell one story. I went in thinking I would be out in no time. I was in a cell block with about 12 other guys. There was a common area and individual cells. I was really shy about pooping in front of others, so I held it. For like 2 days. On the second or third day I couldn't hold it. So I waited until I thought everyone else was distracted in the common, went quietly to my cell, shut the door as much as I could without latching it, and sat down."
"About 5 seconds later the door comes blowing open, and in walk every single person in my cell block. They all formed a semi circle around me, arms folded, demanding I finish my sh*t while they watch. So there I sat, pooping, in front of 12 strangers. It was horrible. But I have literally no poop shyness any more. So silver lining I guess."
The Farm Pit
"It's not quite 'traditional' jail and doesn't last quite as long, but I found it far far worse..."
"I was arrested back in the mid 80s in my youth, living in the former soviet union in eartern europe, and served 8 hours in the 'Farm Pit.' Basically just a concrete pit at a factory farm that's empty when you go in, but then they shovel in pig sh*t as the pigs produce it..."
"I thought I was getting off light with a one-day punishment...but honestly it's been almost 35 years and I'm still a wee bit traumatized from it and still feel some anxiety when I see a pig farm, even in a movie. I never knew anything could smell or feel THAT bad."
The Ignored Prisoner
"50 days in Macomb County Jail. Mt. Clemens, MI."
"Cold. Boring. Smells like bleach and feet. The worst part was hearing a guy screaming for the deputies because his chest hurt. They ignored him. He had a heart attack, and died a few feet from me."
The Detailed Account of Life Behind Bars
"I've had multiple stays at county jails in TX. Every minute of it sucks. Having your freedom stripped from you is a terrible experience, even if you know you won't be in long."
"I visited my dad in prison when I was a kid and one thing that stuck with me from then to the time that I went to jail, was the smell. All jails/prisons seem to have the same funky a** BO/mildew smell."
"In county jail the food is horrible and they give you just enough nutrients to survive. People think that everyone works out but it's hard to have energy or build muscle with the amount of food they give you. You have to be able to make commissary to get more food.
"'Commissary is very necessary'. In county it can be prohibitively expensive for a lot people, packs of ramen go for like $1/each. In state prison, they feed you more and commissary is cheaper. You can also get items not in county jail like sodas and ice cream."
"Depending on where you're at you will most likely be grouped with offenders who have done similar level crimes. Meaning non-violent housed with non-violent offenders and vise versa. There are times this isn't true. Even though I was in on a non-violent driving offense, I was housed with people on trial for armed robbery, murder, attempted murder. I'm not sure why I was put in that tank, I don't have any history of violence. Maybe it's the way I look, idk. One of the murderers was actually a really nice guy (to me anyways) and I got along with him well. We discussed philosophy and played chess everyday."
"Being sick in jail is terrible. Medical care is highly lacking. If you're sick they give you a couple Advil per day and that's it."
"Mental illnesses are rampant. Some people are on their meds and stable, others have conditions that are undiagnosed and untreated but clearly off their rocker."
"Pathological liars are everywhere."
"Everyone is innocent. Everyone is a big time drug dealer. Everyone is a hard as f'k gangster. You get really tired of hearing people talk about all the money and sh*t they have out in the world but they're asking you for a shot of coffee because they don't have money on their books."
"Coffee, stamps and ramen works like currency. You can buy different things/services from other inmates. I used to draw, fill out paperwork, write letters and file motions for other dudes to help pass the time."
"Daytime TV is the most obnoxious sh*t ever and you will gain a new found hatred for it in jail. Dudes will be gathered around the tv watching The View arguing over the dumbest sh*t."
"In the showers, sandals are required. If you go barefoot in the shower you will end up with a f'ked up foot infection. I once saw a dude coming off heroin lay down on the floor in the shower. I wanted to puke. There's years of caked on germs on those shower floors and walls."
"Jailhouse snitches and thieves are hated. If you get caught stealing, you better hope you can fight because you will get f'ked up on sight over a couple packs of noodles."
"There's probably more but those are the main things I think people don't realize about jail."
Never Admit to Being Suicidal
"Try to sleep as much as possible, cuz it's not pleasant to be awake in a room filled with cots and a variety of random strangers, some of whom are cool while others are scary. There's a hierarchy so if ur lucky u will locate and secure a buddy near ur cot who offers to show u the ropes and let's u use her shampoo and wants to play cards. Do not tell the intake nurse the truth if she asks u if u have ever been suicidal, cuz I was long ago, and since I answered honestly i was sent to solitary confinement where I had to be buck naked with all lights on 24 hrs a day and no blankets, only paper towel thing and camera on u with creepy perverted guard watching u all night long"
Narrowly Escaping Death
"My a brother was in prison, he was almost beaten to death by guards. He still won't talk about it and it's been over 20yrs."
Keep Your Head Down
"Been in a number of US jails. Food quality varies, but generally you'll be hungry from dinner (~6pm) till breakfast (6am). Usually you can get some commissary items by trading desserts or playing poker (if you're good at it). Most of my time is spent sleeping and reading books, some people prefer TV and you often don't get to choose what's on. I've generally been in minimum security so haven't seen many fights, but I've been on cell blocks where someone's freaking out for over an hour, and this inevitably happens around midnight when you're trying to sleep. Mostly I've learned to keep my head down and do as the officers say."
"The beds suck, the food sucks, and you're inside at least 23 hours a day. 3/10 would not recommend."
"8 days in solitary confinement was one of the worst experiences of my life. 23 hours in a cell one hour out to walk the pod and shower. Lights on for 16 out for 8. No blanket no books, noting that could possibly be put in the toilet to clog it and flood the cell to get out for a little while (apparently that was a problem). I begged for a bible (atheist) or anything to keep my mind occupied and was refused. 1/10 would not recommend."
Highlights Include LSD
"The longest I have ever done was 90 days in a very small jail. Boring 90 days at most we had like 17 inmates including DOC and females. I played alot of spades. Watched alot of stupid things on tv ( real housewives holy f'k). We usually had cigarettes smuggled in from the road crew so that was cool. My cellmate was in a PC programme and he was on trial for murder. The dude was annoying as f'k. The highlights of my sentence include tripping in LSD for the first time ever, and burning books in the shower cause it eas winter and it was f'king cold."
"Very small town jail for a weekend stay at 18 yrs old. Booorriiinnngggg. Eat. Sleep. Get hassled from Barney Fife. They left the cel door open during the day. We had to mop the floor (hell maybe we volunteered), got to check out the library in the jail....no blanket party, no tats."
"Pretty easy time all told. Which I guess makes up for being arrested for 2nd degree Burglary for stealing a mattress out of a unoccupied TENT at a girl scout camp in the mountains. In all fairness a tent is considered a dwelling, so yeah, I was a burgler."
"Yeup, don't do the crime if you don't want the time or whatever."
"Honestly it's not too bad by itself. We were all kind of like a family there. The worst part for me was just how uninformed I was. I had no idea how long I was going to be there and no idea what was going to happen to my house and job. Luckily it all worked out thanks to my friends and family. I feel truly bad for people who dont have people to look out for them. I just couldn't imagine."
Backed Up For Six Days
"I was in Appomattox jail for 6 days. The arrival process is pretty humiliating. They strip you, make you bend over cough, squat and cough, than shower while watching. Their policy is first 24 hours confined. I was lucky and had a pretty nice roommate. In the cell the toilet is annoyingly close to the bunk bed. There were two common shower areas in the main area walkway. The food sucked. Mostly it's just so damn boring. TVs were on when we could go to the common area but you could barely hear them. We got sent to our rooms for every little thing like getting too loud. One fight broke out but mostly things were chill. I swear somehow I did not poop for the entire time....My body was like .nope. Worst part is they messed up my sentence because of sloppy handwriting. I was supposed to only be held a day. I wouldn't have even had to change my clothes just stay in the courthouse holding cell. I later went to court over it and had my fines and community service dropped."
What a lot of people don't realize about being stuck in the prison system for a long time, is that you're completely cut off to what is happening in the world. So by the time you get out of prison, things have radically changed. We can certainly sympathize with the idea of being newly accustomed to a brand new world, after having spent most of your life away from it. Here are a few examples of this, straight from the people of Reddit.
u/thebunnybullet asked: Prisoners of Reddit that served long sentences, what was the biggest culture shock to you once you were released?
They are pretty cool.
Worked with a guy that became obsessed with electronics in new vehicles, like he was impressed with the stock radio in my work truck. When he got a car a couple of the guys helped install a radio with on star in it.
I wonder if he knows about Tesla and their autopilot.
Those are the best.Giphy
First day out I went to McDonald's and they changed the soda fountains to touch screen and let you add flavors and stuff blew my mind.
The machines are connected to the internet for automatic software updates and such. This also let's the app send it your custom mix.
I've never cared to do it but it's cool nonetheless.
That must be really nice.
I've heard it said that carpeted floors are pleasantly shocking after years of walking on nothing but cement.
I can relate to this. I worked as a tree planter for an entire summer, where you're walking around on bumpy forest terrain, dodging roots, mud, dips, etc for 12 hours everyday. Coming back to civilization and walking on a carpet felt like I was floating.
I can only imagine how it would've felt after years.
Cars are totally different now.
I interviewed a dude who went in for murder in the early 80s and was released a few years ago because of DNA testing. It wasn't cell phones or the internet that threw him, he knew about that stuff pretty well. It was the cars. He was a mechanic before he was sentenced and he said cars now are so different and have so much electronics.
- The switch from carburetors to fuel injection
- The phasing out of drum brakes in favor of disc
- Introduction of airbags
- Massive changes in headlight configuration and technology
- The shift from manual controls to power controls, to keyless entry, and then to smart keys
- Dual clutch transmissions
- On-board diagnostics
- Tire pressure monitoring
- Backup cameras
And that's just scratching the surface.
Me, I hate it. I miss being able to make a quick and easy repair for something basic, instead of needing to waste an entire day (or longer) on something that should be a five-minute job.
The dishwasher at my old job served 26 years for murder. He was 21 when he went in, came out to a completely different world.
I remember him constantly asking me questions to look up on my smart phone, and I never got why. Finally I convinced him to get one and spent hours walking him through it. Then I realized he thought my phones sole functionality was to look up info and was taken aback at how much other stuff smartphones can do.
Nicest man in the world, still keep up with him to this day.
For those interested in the story, I'll share. Also might add that he is very open with sharing his story because he's served his time and moved on.
He grew up in a very poor area, his parents worked in the custodial arts at a well known public university. His description of the town he lived in was a total culture shock to me. Very ghetto, tons of crime. Some guy had been repeatedly assaulting his girlfriend at the time and told him if he did her one more time, he'd kill him. After it happened again, he said he went to his house, buried a clip in his chest, went home and waited for the police to arrive. I remember him saying how he told his dad what he did when he got home and had already accepted the fact he's going to prison.
He was 21. He's around 58 now, and still works harder than anyone in the restaurant. He admits how stupid he was when he was a kid, and wishes it never happened but he's accepted his circumstances and moved on.
I work at a global fast food chain, and one guy and a woman entered, the guy was covered with tattoos. I was at the register taking orders and overheard the guy say "What the hell is this?" Referring to the kiosk. He and the woman ended up ordering from me and not the kiosk. The dude said to me, "You go away for a while and everything changes. It's crazy!" He was a really nice dude and it was kind of wholesome to see the woman teaching him about new technology.
Tinder and Uber are pretty neat.
A friends brother went away for about 10 years. Hit and run while he was smoking a bit of weed in his car before school and ended up killing an old man who was our walking. He was a nice kid and the man seemed like a nice guy family guy too. Sad situation all around.
He was pretty shocked by everything smartphone apps could do. He knew about this stuff because he was in a low security unit, but he really had a hard adjusting to actually using it. Seeing and hearing about this stuff second hand is a huge difference to actually using it. His mind was blown by tinder and uber. He had a hard time grasping touch screens or couldn't really see why they were better than buttons. He's never even had a debit card and paid for everything in cash before he went in. He lost it when he saw people tapping their phones to pay for stuff. I think he really struggled applying to jobs online.
My friend told me he struggled being in big open spaces for a bit. He didn't like to sit facing a wall with his back to all the people and stuff like that. Got really annoyed when people moved or touched his stuff.
Also, told me that he was pretty lonely. She didn't go into too much detail, but all of his friends had moved on with life, gone to school, gotten jobs, many were married with kids. They were still friendly to him when he got out, but they were all almost 30 and had moved on. He was basically just starting at 18 with a criminal record.
That was 2ish years ago though. He's finishing up a city college program and going to a state school starting next year. Actually feel pretty bad for him because his family was planning on making this whole big surprise thing for him for finishing city college and it all had to be put on hold because of COVID-19. I know their are bigger worries in the world now, but it's a bummer that he doesn't get to really celebrate his first big accomplishment since prison or really in his adult life at all.
That is a big change.Giphy
Not me personally, but a guy once gave a talk at my school after wrongfully being on death row for over 20 years. He was from the same town as me, and he went on and on about how when he was growing up there it was almost farmland, and when he got out he was suddenly surrounded by fast food, industry, and development.
Remember reading a story about a British criminal (might have been one of the great train robbers?) who came out after a long sentence, and said the biggest change for him was the noise cars made. When he went in, he could tell if a car was accelerating, slowing down and how fast it was going by the noise it made.
When he got out, he had trouble crossing roads if a car was approaching because he couldn't work out the speed of oncoming traffic. Maybe in some ways the world isn't noisier than it used to be?
To be fair, I freaked out the first time I saw this too.
Not me, but my uncle came back from prison after 20 years or something because of something that I am not informed about, probably robbery based on what I've heard. But regardless, here's a funny story.
So essentially he came back from jail and he came back to our house just to see the family. And I thought I'd mess with him knowing that he wasn't accustomed to Future capabilities.
I just told my house bot to turn on the lights in the living room as we walked in, I look back, and his face was like he just saw a ghost. Funniest sh*t I'd ever seen.
Prison is not necessarily full of bad people, just like the free world is not necessarily full of good people. In fact, we've recently heard some stories that made us go, "awww."
Here were some of the answers.
I work non-security. One time I had an inmate walk up to me, super-sketchy like. He reached in his pants. I mentally prepared myself to see his junk.
But instead he pulled out a piece of fruit.
He then proceeded to pull out twenty pieces of fruit from his pants, handing one to every inmate in the room.
When I went to scold him about taking food out of the dining hall he said, "what? I brought some for everyone!"
Working In Groups
I'm a social worker in a prison in Belgium. We were doing a cooking workshop with some of the inmates, there was one guy in the group that was a bit 'mentally challenging'. We were decorating cupcakes, and he reeeeeaaally didn't know what to do, so he just threw some sprinkles on it randomly.
The others stopped him, told him to breath and relax. Showed him how to make smiley faces, how to use different colours, all that good sh*t. They did it all together, slowed down the pace just for this one guy. Let me tell you, those cupcakes looked amazing and the one guy was so proud.
I work in a prison with a lot of mentally unstable guys and every time there is one participating in a group all the other guys are just so patient, it's amazing to see.
I'm not a prison guard, but I was a prisoner. Out in the yard, a frog found its way into the enclosure from under the door. A group of inmates found it, and started pushing other inmates that wanted to step on it. They protected it until it went back under the door. It was sweet seeing these other inmates, who were in jail for violent crimes, ready to throw down to let the frog live.
Not prison, but locked inpatient psych unit. We had a prisoner shipped to us bc he needed chemo during his life long sentence. I was only 21 (female) at the time and he was 6'5, in his forties. I was assigned as his 1:1 sitter and transport companion. I was terrified to be 1:1 with him bc he was so much bigger than me and had murdered 3 people about 15 years ago.
One day, after his chemo session, I was sitting with him and we were both eating a sandwich. He looked over and said "I really hope I don't scare you. I'm a different person now. Thank you for eating lunch with me."
So simple but so pure.
Kindness In Kind
I've had many a prisoner jump in front of me when someone gets too close and aggressive and tell them to back down, we're just doing a job and shouting at us does nothing.
I've seen prisoners assist staff in restraints when they're struggling. One particular prisoner was shouting he had razor blades in his mouth and wouldn't spit them out. Another prisoner overheard this and ran in to grab them out of his mouth before he could bite staff.
I've seen prisoners talk people they've never met down from suicide and I've seen them do their best to make life for people who are there bearable.
They make me laugh my arse off most days and they're honestly one thing that's kept me in the job as long as I've been in it.
Outlets For InmatesGiphy
Not a guard, but did some time at a minimum-security facility (for drug possession). My cellmate was a professional tattoo artist before his sentence. You'd think there would be a lot of requests for ink jobs, but he spent most of his time making drawings for other prisoners. They'd give him things out of commissary in exchange for a picture they could mail to their families.
The warden eventually just let him hold art class once a week. Even though having to check-in/out the pencils and pens was a stark reminder that yes, we were in prison, those classes were a lot of fun and helped pass the time. We'd talk trash about each other's art - 'your drawing is a crime against the arts, we hereby sentence you to thirty days of finger painting!' For some of the guys in there, this class was the first time they had any real exposure to art instruction. Seeing someone in their late 30s,40s,50s, get really really excited about shading and blending and in general just stoked about what they made was pretty cool.
Former CO: In the pod adjacent to mine a nurse was passing meds when an inmate grabbed her and put a pencil to her neck and threatened to stab her. The CO called a code and I took off running the 100 or so yards to respond. By the time I got there three inmates had tackled and subdued the hostage taker I walked up and we threw cuffs on the guy and escorted him to seg. The 3 inmates who helped had a little ceremony and received a reduced sentence. You don't mess with women and don't mess with an inmates medication.
While working the floor one night, one of our officers had a heart attack and collapsed. An inmate rushed over, began CPR, got another inmate to run to the control booth and get help on the way, and saved his life. The inmates cheered and applauded when the officer revived. Not one inmate in that pod tried to take advantage of the situation.
There was also an incident with the state facility, where a prison bus was hit and rolled. The inmates did not flee, helped the injured, including the guards, and even directed traffic at the scene until police could take over.
In both cases, the inmates involved received reduced sentences.
Back To BabyhoodGiphy
When I had to do community service in my small county I (a female) had to go out with the work gang from the mens jail. There weren't any other options for me. So it was a young 20's me with a bunch of hard-bitten frequent fliers more than twice my age. One of the days we broke for lunch at this little out of the way park. It's one of those first really nice days of spring and it's all breezy and pretty out. I finish my lunch and decide to go swing on the swings.
At first the men poked a little good natured fun at me. Then one of them came over to join me. Then another. Next thing you know there's a bunch of convicts and one deputy playing on the playground equipment and we're all having a grand time. We spun each other on the carousel. We went down the slide. We attempted to see-saw. It was such an odd moment of fun.
I use to be a Correction Officer now police Officer. But once I came into work sick as a dog and one of the inmates on my tier asked me if I wanted some soup. Initially I was like "aaaah I don't know..."
He was like "Don't worry I'll make it front you and it will help knock out your cold."
Sure enough he made the soup and it was banging. Sure enough next day after I felt better. This particular inmate if you just met at a bar or wherever you would never think he was in prison for killing two people and attempting to kill another.
I worked at the Calgary Remand Centre for about half a year before deciding it wasn't for me. This would have been maybe two years ago. The Toronto Raptors were in the playoffs and I was training on one of their Maximum Security units, murderers and whatnot all awaiting trial.
The other COs in the bubble were watching hockey, but the inmates were watching the Raptors on the unit television. I asked the other COs if they'd mind if I went and watched the game with the inmates. They laughed and said "Sure rookie". Keep in mind most of the COs are absolute garbage humans. Not all, just... Most.
So I put a radio on, buzzed myself onto the unit and walked over the to crowd of inmates watching the Raptors. They thought I was coming to turn off the TV or fuck with their game (something COs often do just to be a dick). Instead I asked if they'd mind if I joined them... 3 inmates moved out of their chairs to give me a place to sit, I said I was content standing with them. They asked if I was a fan. I explained I'd grown up in Ontario and went to Raptors games for years.
The next hour and a bit was actually the most fun I had during my short career as a CO, shooting the shit about favourite players, favourite games, the direction of the team going forward. It was a pretty cool experience that I'll always remember. I was reprimanded afterwards for giving a couple inmates high fives when we got the win.
A Healthy Anger OutletGiphy
Not a correctional officer, but I facilitate behavioral intervention groups for sex offenders in preparation for their release back into the community.
One of my group members who was released a couple months ago called to let my team know how he's doing. He got to meet his son for the first time, he gave him some Marvel toys he had as a kid. He said he cried when he heard about Stan Lee. He's also working. Walking for 2 hours to get to and from work, but he should be able to get his license and a vehicle soon.
Another group member cried in group when he told us about how he can't wait to hug his mother, as it had been nearly 10 years. He said it was more for her than him, but we all knew he was lying.
Last week, in one of our emotional regulation groups, we were talking about relaxation techniques for when they're angry. I asked the group members about music and asked them to identify an artist or genre that they like to listen to when they are amped. One of the guys, who alludes to being in a street gang previously, and has known assaultive history, made the group swear to confidentiality before sharing that when he's angry, he puts on Celtic Woman and cries.
Violations Not Tolerated
My mum was a CO in a women's prison, and worked up until she was 7 months pregnant with me. There was one particularly aggressive inmate who in a rage threw a chair at her stomach with the intention of harming me- now if y'all know anything it is wayyy against GirlCrimeCode to ever harm a pregnant woman or child. The other inmates immediately tackled the aggressor and two rushed to my mum to make sure she was uninjured, and alerted the other CO's.
Fixing The Prison's Mistake
Obligatory not a prison guard but I did prison ministry for inmates with life sentences a few years back. Basically we stay in a prison for 3 days with a select group of prisoners who have had a record of good behavior. The goal of the weekend is to make these men feel like humans and show them that they are forgiven by the big man upstairs and that they still deserve compassion.
There is 6 tables in a room with 5 inmates and 2 of us "counselors" sitting with them. Now I have no idea how the prison didn't catch this from the beginning but we ended up having 2 men that knew each other from the outside sitting at the same table which is a big no no.
We had just got done singing a praise and worship song about forgiveness and I noticed one of the men had a look on his face like I have never seen before. It was a look of pure but calm rage. It was terrifying. I have no idea where I got the balls to do this but I walked over to him and just hugged him. I said, I love you brother and I'm really glad you're here.
Shortly after I did that he left the room to use the restroom. I was informed later that my hug was what broke down his walls. The next day we see him in the corner praying with one of the other inmates at his table. We found out that the prison made the mistake of placing those two not only on the same weekend together but at the same table. The man that he was praying with was serving a life sentence for murdering the man that I hugged's cousin.
Perfect Circle TimeGiphy
Worked in the Mental Health portion of the county jail for some time.
We had a zero policy on destruction of property and graffiti.
Had one inmate, completely out of his mind, carve perfect circles into the plexiglass of his cell window, the steel on his bunk, the concrete on his walls. It calmed him. There was no chance of a security breach. Higher ups wanted the plexiglass replaced, sand down the bunk, and fill in the walls and repaint.
All three shifts implored the Major to 'let it be'. It kept him calm, we would just have more $ spent if we moved him and continually had to refurbish the cell.
We won, inmate was calm, and those circles...my god they were absolutely perfect!