Official Codex Discord Server

  1. Welcome to rpgcodex.net, a site dedicated to discussing computer based role-playing games in a free and open fashion. We're less strict than other forums, but please refer to the rules.

    "This message is awaiting moderator approval": All new users must pass through our moderation queue before they will be able to post normally. Until your account has "passed" your posts will only be visible to yourself (and moderators) until they are approved. Give us a week to get around to approving / deleting / ignoring your mundane opinion on crap before hassling us about it. Once you have passed the moderation period (think of it as a test), you will be able to post normally, just like all the other retards.
    Dismiss Notice

Ask an ex-con (almost) anything

Discussion in 'Prisonscape' started by PekkaK, May 19, 2014.

  1. PekkaK Heaviest Matter Developer

    PekkaK
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Parrots:
    133
    This topic is dedicated to questions about how life actually is in prison. Garland contacted me during our KS campaign and wanted to offer his knowledge on prison life, and we thought that it would be interesting if he would answer some of the questions from you guys, too. So if you have any questions (I sure do!) regarding the joint, ask them here! Some of this information will of course be used in the game, too. This thread was moved from the ghost town called Prisonscape forums, so all these initial posts are written by Garland but posted here by me. Here's an introduction of Garland:

    Hi everyone!

    Before I get to the first questions I wanted to give a brief introduction. As Pekka has already said, my name is Garland and I am an ex-con. Until early last month I was in federal prison, serving a 6 1/2 year sentence, and of that sentence I served just short of 6 years. My prison experience was a totally unexpected and surreal event in my life that changed me as a person, for better and in some ways, for worse.

    I was 24 years old when I received my prison sentence. I had never been in trouble a day in my life. Not even a traffic ticket. I was not living a criminal lifestyle. I was not what you think of when you think of your typical convict nor would I become your typical prison inmate. I went from being a college-educated guy in his 20s with a professional blossoming career in politics, who wore suits nearly every day, to being in an environment where most people there had breathed, slept and ate crime. Who were tattooed from head-to-toe and looked like body builders. Who ran with gangs and in some cases had been in and out of prison their entire lives. I was truly a fish out of water. One day I was on top of the world, the next my world was turned upside down because of a stupid mistake I had made years earlier that caught up with me, and I found myself facing federal criminal charges and eventually found myself behind a two-layer fence of razor wire.

    But I made it. I'm now 30 years old and I find myself having to start all over again. It's hard to believe sometime that it's over with. It seems like just yesterday my prison sentence was beginning and I thought it would never end, but here I am, and that said it wasn't all that bad. In fact, while a lot of bad things happened and I witnessed horrible events, many wonderful and beautiful things happened in prison. There were times I actually had fun, actually laughed until I cried. Some of the deepest, open, most meaningful conversations I ever had in my life took place behind bars. I made a best friend and learned what true friendship is all about. I was also very fortunately. I stayed out of trouble and was generally liked and respected by everyone. I got along with almost everyone and was accepted by almost everyone. I had few problems during my entire prison stay, avoided most conflict and confrontation, and never really got hurt or into a fight (although I had a couple of close calls). I met all kinds of different people, from Wall Street Executives and CEOs to your neighborhood crack dealer to gang bangers to prominent politicians to a couple of "terrorists." I met people from all over the country, even all over the world. I learned a lot from many of them, had very interesting conversations. I got to see the best and worst of humanity. If there's one thing I learned from prison: people are capable of so much evil, but also so much good, and I came away deciding that deep down almost everyone is good. But, that said, I also came away understanding the tough truth that there are some genuinely bad people in this world.

    I avoided most people in prison. Avoided conflict, associating with too many people, gangs. This is very important if you want your prison stay to go as smooth as possible. I kept a small circle of close friends that I trusted and knew were good people. We hung out and did our thing. I was also fortunate because while I was at some rough spots initially I spent most of my time at a low security facility in Petersburg, VA, where everyone pretty much got along and there were few problems. I avoided the penitentiary all together. Still, I witnessed many shocking things and had a full perspective of the many nuances of prison life.

    Being in prison is like being in limbo. It is like being transported to a place where everything is backward and little make sense. The world on the outside moves, changes, progresses -- but there you are stuck in the same routine, day in and day out. I heard many comparisons during my time to the movie "Groundhog Day," where Bill Murray keeps waking up to the same day over and over with no escape. While a little extreme, it is not that far-fetched of a comparison to what prison is like. That said, there is nothing like prison and as a disclaimer while I can help you understand it until you've actually been there you can never truly understand what it is like. But my hope is with this thread is to provide some insight into the world of incarceration and to help you learn as much about prison as possible.

    Why am I doing this? A couple weeks ago I was browsing through Kickstarter (a website I read a lot about but had never visited because it did not exist prior to my incarceration) and discovered the campaign to fund Prisonscape. The idea immediately struck me as genius and I had one of those "who didn't I think of that!?" moments. The prison environment, afterall, is so unique, complex and interesting it would make for a great game. I instantly felt a strong desire to reach out to the creators and offer my assistance. I wanted the game to be as good, and moreover, as realistic as possible, and I thought this would give a chance to make the worst experience of my life into something positive. So, I sent off an e-mail offering my insight on prison as a way to help make the game better and as realistic as possible and I received a reply back from Pekka who accepted my offer. After a few exchanges of e-mails, he presented to me this idea of a thread that would be a sort of Q&A where I could answer people's questions. I immediately liked and agreed to the idea. Not only will this give me a chance to help people understand prison, but I also feel in the process the answers I give will help with the development of the game. Further, I feel very strongly after my experience that the prison and criminal justice system in this country are severely broken. It is unfair, uncaring, unsafe, unjust and largely racist. I feel that at least 90% of the people I did time with, especially at the low security institution, should not have been incarcerated, either because they didn't deserve to be in the first place or they have long paid their debt to society. So, this unique opportunity gives me a platform to speak out about the system and perhaps in the process change some minds about it or encourage people to take action to bring about change. Finally, I will get something out of that and that is that it gives me a chance to talk about my prison experience, which is therapeutic for me in a way. As I mentioned previously, I've only been out of prison a little over a month and am still trying to readjust to society.

    That said, I do reserve the right to refuse to answer any questions. I will generally not name people by name or reveal details that I feel are too personal or could get someone into trouble, that includes about myself or others. I want this thread to be about prison, not specifically about me or anyone else.

    That said with those stipulations understood and that all out of the way feel free to ask any questions you want and I'll do my best to answer them!

    I'm at your disposal. [​IMG]
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 38
    ^ Top  
  2. PekkaK Heaviest Matter Developer

    PekkaK
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Parrots:
    133
    The most common term for a prison guard these days is CO (short for Correctional Officer). Guard is rarely used and neither or decades old terms like "screw." Sometimes people simply refer to them as "the police."

    "Regarding money in prisons. It is true that years ago cigarettes were once the main currency, but today most prisons, including all federal prisons, have banned them and they are now contraband. Meaning they're illegal to have, but are still commonly bought and sold at a much higher price. Someone who has a steady access to cigarettes in prison today is most likely a very rich man in the prison sense. Most cigarettes get in via COs, who bring them in to exchange them for information (i.e. prison snitches) or who are getting some financial gain out of it. In the former category, this often happens in an unofficial sense. COs bring in cigarettes to trade for information because they get bonuses when they make big busts, so cigarettes allow them to get this information.

    Of course, doing this is against prison rules and if they got caught they could get fired, although COs rarely get fired for anything, just transferred. In the latter category most likely someone an inmate knows on the outside (friend or family) is paying the CO on the outside to bring the cigarettes in... The CO charges the friends/family for the servce but the inmate comes out ahead since he can sell them for so much on the inside. There's also a rare third category when if an inmate is from close by where the prison is he might know a CO from the outside or know someone who knows that CO and has a relationship or establish a relationship with them to get cigarettes (or other contraband). Sometimes this relationship is also sexual. I've seen several cases where inmates and female staff members were having an affair and the female staff member was bringing in things for the inmate.

    That said, the most common form of prison currency today are postage stamps. Typically 2 stamps = $1. Also, at some places, 1 oz. packs of tuna or mackerels are often used as currency because both are popular food stuffs (especially with those who work out because of the protein they contain) and are usually priced at the Commissary at around a dollar.

    Pekka's notes: We'll probably make cigarettes more rare, make postal stamps the "basic" prison currency and also add tuna as one of trade goods items in the game.

    I noticed that COs had guns in some of the graphics. I've NEVER seen COs with guns inside of a prison. That would be a HUGE security risk. It's unheard of... at most they'll have stun guns, tasers, guns that shoot rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas guns, flash bangs... But never guns with bullets. Usually when there's a riot (or they need to extract someone from a cell that won't come out, usually happens when someone is in solitary confinement, also known as the 'hole' or the SHU in federal prison, which stands for Special Housing Unit) they'll send in a specially trained team of COs in SWAT-type gear to handle it. If this happens the best thing to do is to get down or run to your cell and stay down. Once a fight broke out between 5 gang members and they ran in there and anyone that moved, including people not involved in the fight, got shot with rubber bullets. Prison slang for these groups of COs is usually the "goon squad." Also, outside of the fence when they're patrolling the perimeter guards to have shot guns and rifles to prevent escape (and in the guard towers for prisons that still have those).

    Pekka's notes: That particular cutscene is actually a drug-induced hallucination. The guards do not have guns, only SORT (the specially trained team) will have them.

    Regarding prison weapons, most are some kind of knife (called shanks) which are made out of any number of things from toothbrushes to chicken bones to shards of glass. I once saw someone made one of of a LAWNMOWER BLADE. It seems you have these in the game, along with fire which is sometimes used as a weapon as well. Inmates also made blow guns with darts. These are popular for getting someone at a distance and especially in circumstances where inmates are locked in a cell and can use these through a crack in it or the metal flap built into the doors which are almost universal on all cell doors now and are mostly used to slid a tray through to serve meals. As a result, these are extremely popular weapons to have when someone is in the hole. because it's likely the only way they'll have to hurt someone, and usually COs are the biggest target because that's who they will interact with most. A CO will be most vulnerable for attack when they open the flap on the door to slide a tray through, at that point an inmate made use the blow gun and its homemade dart to try to hurt them. Also, sometimes inmates target other inmates that are being escorted down the hall to another cell as they walk by the door. Since people usually go to the hole for a reason, like fighting, it's possible they may try to get back at the person they got into a fight with, a rival gang member or someone who snitched on them. To maximize the darts effectiveness, I've seen inmates coat the tips in feces, urine and even blood. One of the worst things I ever witnessed was an inmate with AIDS cutting himself to donate blood to another inmate for the purpose of coating a dart in it.

    Pekka's notes: Some ranged weapons can be crafted in the game and can be used in fights. There will also be some incidents related to "prison cocktails".

    Another weapon that is common is simply throwing hot water on someone, usually heating to boiling in a microwave or with a stinger (a prison manufactured stinger typically consists of a power cord, plug, wires and two metal bars stuck together that conduct electricity... it's insanely dangerous, but effective for heating anything you stick it in, usually water for coffee). Other times, however, baby oil is used in the same way -- heated until boiling. The results of this are not pretty to say the least. I've also seen inmates combine boiling water or baby oil with Magic Shave, a ethnic facial hair removal product. The reason is this makes the burning sensation worse and sticks to the skin, causing more permanent damage. I've also seen oatmeal combined into any number of these "cocktails" because oatmeal will also stick to the persons skin as it burns them and if the target attempts to remove it he will pull off his skin with the oatmeal.

    Sorry for the gruesome details, but those are all realities in prison.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 19
    • Informative Informative x 1
    ^ Top  
  3. PekkaK Heaviest Matter Developer

    PekkaK
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Parrots:
    133
    Here's some recent information/ideas/thoughts I thought would be relevant for the game.

    -Maybe it's already like this, but whenever a CO shakes someone down, whether it's a pat down style shakedown or searching through their cell they always wear gloves that are usually a shade or light or dark blue.

    Some prison Commissaries sell fruits and vegetables, however, many don't and in those places inmates who work in the kitchen will steal them, bring them back to the housing units and sell them for whatever the monetary unit is in a particular prison (cigarettes in your game, but in reality these days mostly stamps, sometimes things like macks/Tunas like I mentioned before). Onions, tomatoes and bell peppers are the most popular and common. The price varies from prison to prison (and sometimes from unit to unit if units are difference sizes because larger units have more competition that drive the prices down), but usually $1-2 dollars is about right. To smuggle food out of the kitchen, inmates often have a good relationship with the COs that work there and supervise them so they let them take stuff out -- often in exchange for information, but sometimes for something as simple as preparing special meals for COs.

    Also, COs there understand that working with inmates there is better. By giving them some stuff, but making them understand that if they abuse this they will be cut off it prevents inmates from taking everything that isn't nailed down. Other than that, the best way to smuggle things out is in a laundry bag by wrapping the items in dirty or clean clothes inside, or by strapping the items to their body as flat as possible on their pants legs, sleeves, etc. by using an elaborate set of custom pockets made with trash bags. I've seen people come with a trash bag full of eggs strapped to their chest before. I've also seen inmates get caught doing this and the COs who shake them down leaving the kitchen and find it bust the eggs while they're still attached to their chest to be jerks.

    By the way, any product or service offered by an inmate for a monetary exchange is referred to as a "hustle" in prison and it's general prison code/ethics that everyone's hustle should be respected. This not only means helping out your fellow inmate as a sign of good will if they're starting one, but also not stepping into their territory if they're already doing it. It also means being understanding if that hustle means they have to utilize certain prison facilities to be able to do them. For example, clothes washing is a prison hustle and some prisons don't have washes/dryers in the unit so people wash clothes by hand as a hustle. These people need constant access to sinks, mop buckets, and places to hang drying clothes to do this, which means they're often "in the way" (popular prison slang, by the way) when you need to use these things, but because of prison code this is generally accepted as okay so long as it has its limits and they accommodate others at the same time. The general thought is "this person is just trying to make money to support himself so they should be allowed to." "Respect the hustle" is a popular prison slogan/lingo.

    Also, prison code says doing anything to hinder a hustle is generally wrong and "disrespectful" (respect is a huge concept in prison and people will often use the word "disrespectful" to describe someone's actions that they dislike), including and especially snitching on the person doing it. Prison hustles include everything from selling food from the kitchen, to repairing clothes/fabric, to washing clothes, to selling prepared food, to cleaning shoes, to cleaning cells, to selling art/craft items they made, teaching skills, typing, selling new clothes from laundry, selling porn, back massages, legal work (inmate lawyers), tattooing, making and selling hooch, etc. Almost everyone in prison has some hustle to a degree.

    One of my favorite aspects of the game is the Warden who is worried about saving money. This is a true reflection of the realities of prison and inmates are constantly being price gauged on everything and are losing things in the name of "saving money." In the federal system there's something called the Inmate Trust Fund which is a fund that contains the profit they make from all products and services sold to inmates (Commissary included) and this is suppose to be used to pay for things like TVs, microwaves, hobby craft supplies, recreation materials, books, movies, etc. That said, the numbers rarely added up to me and I've always believed there was a great deal of fudging of the numbers going on my the staff members in charge.

    Everything in prison is expensive, including and especially items sold at the Commissary. It's really all a scam and a monopoly. The biggest culprit (who pretty much has a monopoly over the whole system) is Keefe Commissary Networks. http://www.keefegroup.com/ It shouldn't come as a big surprise that politicians who support tougher criminal laws and sentencing get huge campaign donations from Keefe and other companies that profit off of prisoners. I call this the Prison Industrial Complex. It's a multi-billion dollar industry and the last they they wanna see is people let out of prison because it effects their bottom line. Inmates are a cash cow for them. The phone system is also a huge monopoly in prison and scam. Calls are ridiculously expensive and about three companies dominate the market. Those include NCIC, GTL, Paytel, and Global-Tel Link, which is the worst offender because their prices are sky high. They dominate the private prison market. An article from the ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/global-tel Long distance calls where I was were $3.65 for 15 minutes. Global-Tel is much more expensive.

    A few years back inmates wised up and started using Magic Jack to get local phone numbers that "forwarded" to their home numbers, thus all their calls were local and only about .90 cent for 15 minutes where I was... Then they figured out how to block Magic Jack numbers so everyone switched to Google Voice, which was better because it was free. Almost everyone uses this in prison now and it made the phone companies take a big hit so they convinced the GOP it was "call forwarding" and therefore a "security issue." A BOP-wide memo was issued at federal level informing us that using services like Google Voice was against the rules and we would be punished if we did, but in reality what Google Voice does and how it works doesn't make it a violation of the rules, so the few people who got in trouble for it all successfully appealed their punishment.

    The only people who got caught were ones who mentioned they were using it on the phone (all prison phone calls are recorded and monitored, of course) or forgot to turn off the feature that informed the caller it was a Google number. I have a friend who's in a private immigration prison in PA and he says Global-Tel has figured out a way to make it so Google numbers don't work there. Speaking of which, the private prison industry alone is a multi-billion dollar industry. The biggest company is Corrections Corporation of America (http://cca.com/). They run mostly immigration/INS prisons, because no one cares so much if illegal immigrants are put through the things private prisons put them through and prison camps for very low risk/non-violent offenders. These prisons typically do not even have fences and the environment allows them to spend less money on security so they can maximize profit. A lot of wealthy/white collar offenders prefer to be at these facilities because while they're expensive they have a lot more things you can buy. You see, because these are companies, they are all about maximizing profit.

    There point is to make money. So on one hand while this means everything is efficient, on another it means that they cut back on a lot of free things for inmates other prisons don't. Basically, their goal is to get away with making things work and making an environment secure while also doing as little extra as possible for inmates and providing as little free things as possible. It's all very basic and if you want anything it's going to cost you and that's the "silver lining": they may not provide it for free, but they'll let you buy it! And they'll let you buy things/services that your typical prison won't. Any way they can make money, they will, and these things are very expensive. Many private prisons allow tobacco products even though most government run ones don't anymore. They have MP3 players and e-mail (note: all federal prisons have this now, more on that later). They have eBook readers. They have crock pots and pot plates and personal TVs (note: some state prisons have this, it's banned in federal prisons). They allow inmates to do things like buy special meals a couple of times a week.

    They put vending machines in the units. You get the idea, basically anyway to get money out of inmates, they will do. My friend in the PA prison told me a story that they had rechargeable MP3 players but because they were losing so much money on batteries they made it so those all of a sudden didn't work anymore with the music purchasing system and got "better" MP4's that were some knock off brand I've never heard of, took 6 AA batteries and were $175 dollars (around $20 more than the old ones). It's insane.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 18
    ^ Top  
  4. PekkaK Heaviest Matter Developer

    PekkaK
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Parrots:
    133
    Are transvestites/transgender people (I'm sorry but I don't know the official term) allowed to dress up as women and have make-up inside?

    The official prison term, as offensive as it sounds, is "punks." Most people who fall into that classification do not find the term insulting, however. Most of them like it when you call them "girls" or "ladies." The term "punk" actually describes any gay or person who is transgender. A lot of people in prison are gay or bisexual, some are very open, many are not. Many are in relationships while they are in prison. Many fall in love. For the most part they are good people and everyone talks to them like anyone else and treats them with respect (that said, as a general rule, it is a good idea to avoid talking to any of them you don't know because if they have a boyfriend they might get the wrong idea and you'll quickly find yourself in trouble because they think you're stepping into "their territory"). In fact, in some cases, they are the most respected people on the compound because they give sexual favors to interested parties. Many receive gifts for this, both in exchange for sex or just in the same way a girl might receive a gift from a guy and the guy gets nothing in return, or vice-versa. Most sex in prison is consensual and most predators are passive-aggressive, asking questions to "feel out" a person they're interested in before making a proposition or a move. Rape does happen in prison, but from my experience it's more rare than pop culture has allowed people to believe. There's also the idea of someone being a "prison bitch." This also does happen., but generally people are treated more respectfully in these types of situations than you'd be led to believe by that terminology. Often people who owe money get into this situation. Weak people and people who look or act young or feminine are also a target. I was only 24 when I came into the system and looked more like I was 18 so while I never had any problems, I had more than a few people approach me in the passive-aggressive way I described above and proposition me, but once I firmly told them I wasn't interested they backed away and were respectful.

    The term "turned out" is used to describe people who "become gay" in prison and get into such situations, although in most cases I believe unless there is force involved they were always gay and prison simply gave them an environment where they were given the opportunity to act on it. Other than simply wanting to, inmates who become "turned out" do so for a variety of reasons, both of a consensual and non-consensual nature. It could be because they owe money. It could be because they like receiving money, gifts and being taken care of. It could be for protection from others (hence why weak people often find themselves in this position and are quickly targeted by people who offer them protection in exchange for becoming their "prison bitch," although they often treat them very well and don't abuse them, at least physically). It could be because they like the companionship and attention. Often, though, it is simply because deep down it is what they want. Many try to "become" female in prison and consider themselves "women trapped in a man's body."

    That brings me to the question at hand. While, to the best of my knowledge, I never did time with anyone who was post-opt (except once in County jail for a couple days awaiting transfer the person who was in the cell beside me was transgender and was kept their in solitary for their protection -- they used to talk to me through the air vent in the wall about things. I enjoyed the conversations, actually), I did do time with people who had taken hormone medication at some point to make themselves more feminine. It had effected their voice and appearance in some cases. Some had grown breasts as a result and it was common for those who hadn't to stuff their shirt to make it look like they had them. They made their walk feminine and used feminine hand gestures. There were three distinct examples who were prominent at Petersburg. All had adapted female names. They called each other "girl" in casual conversation.

    As for dressing up as women and wearing make-up, this is kind of a grey area in prison, because it's difficult for COs enforce rules against those kinds of things and specify what applies and what does not, so most of the time they let it go. I've literally seen everything from homemade make-up, to lip stick (usually made from red Koolaid, which is banned at many Commissaries for this very reason), to actually having someone make them purses at the hobby shop. They also always smell like perfume because they rip out the perfume advertising inserts with the sample and rub the paper over their body (this is common for straight inmates to do as well with cologne before they have a visit). The one thing that isn't allowed is modified clothing, because there are rules against "clothing alteration" in the inmate handbook (rules) at every prison or jail I've ever been inside. So when an inmate makes "booty shorts," dyes their blanket pink, makes a skirt or a thong or bra (all of which I've seen happen), they can get in trouble for it and have those things confiscated because they are classified as contraband.

    Where do people actually fight? Are there any "blind spots" where inmates go to sort out their conflicts?

    Believe it or not, at the low facility I was at there were almost no cameras. There was one at visit, one near the place where staff entered and exited the prison and one at the recreation yard (rec yard) which wasn't even there when I first arrived. Other prisons, however, have cameras EVERYWHERE. There are blind spots. The most common place inmates go to fight are blind spots in the rec yard, usually the bathrooms, other bathrooms, or most commonly in their cells where there are no cameras. Often fights are an organized event, although sometimes they spontaneously happen. These fights are actually the most dangerous because any number of people might get involved that has any connection to the people fighting (friend, celly, gang, being from the same area also known as a "home boy," etc.) , bringing out weapons, and the next thing you know there's a full scale riot happening and here comes the COs in their SWAT gear with rubber bullets and tear gas. In organized fights, which are all about keeping the peace, each inmate prepares for the fight, although usually any weapons are not allowed and no other protections except putting on boots (that is a key element to every fight that is organized, people put their boots on because they're steel toe and can be used as a weapon and leverage -- many people NEVER are without their boots for this reason and people who want to fight someone will often say "put your boots on!" to call them out). How is this enforced? By other inmates. You see, most fights are usually sanctioned events. Most people in prison fall into a group or "roll" with someone. People organize and stick together in prison for protection. Anyone not in a group are often targeted because they are more easily prayed upon. There are "shock collars" (people who are in charge of a group). Gang leaders are the most common "shock collars," but that said a group could be a gang or it could be people from different parts of the country (in federal prison, people organize and stick together by state and city, so when you first arrive people are going to ask who you're with and if you say "no one" they'll ask where you'll from and if you say "California" for example they'll direct you to the California people -- your "home boys." It's not like that everywhere, but in many places it is and you'll sit at meals only with people from your area at a table specifically designated for people on your area by the inmate population). So when two people have a problem (or a "beef," in prison lingo) the two shock collars will meet, usually with other members of each group there, and decide what should be done about it to avoid any other problems or a full on war between both groups. If they conclude the only option is for the two people to fight it out than terms will be negotiated and they'll pick a time and a place, usually someone's cell. There someone from each group will make sure the person fighting from their group sticks to the rules, usually by making sure they don't bring any weapons to the fight. People from each side will stand guard, to make sure everything goes as planned and no one breaks the rules, and also make sure no one else from their side gets involved. They don't want a full on riot. Really this is all about "squashing the beef" to keep the peace. The person who wins is who wins, no matter how badly one person is beat no one else is allowed to step in. Once someone has been beat badly enough, the fight will be broken up by both leaders of the groups. After that, it will be made clear to both of the fighters, and the groups as a whole, that it's over and they aren't to have any more issues with each other, especially the one who lost. They want to make it clear to them they aren't allowed to seek revenge. They lost fair and square. They then have people to clean up the blood and any damage. While this going on one or more people stand guard to make sure no one else comes in, no one else sees and to keep a look out for COs. At the very least in such fights each fighter's cell mate (or "celly," in prison lingo) will be there to ensure the fight is fair, no one else comes in and no COs catch them fighting.

    Which drugs are available in prison? Do inmates make lot of pruno?

    First, no one says "pruno." In my entire time in prison I never even heard that term used by anyone. "Hooch" is the most common term, and yes, it's very common and a lot of it is made. In institutions that have easy access to sugar and yeast (like ones with bakeries), it's even more common. It's typically made in jugs that once contained cleaning chemicals or double-layered trash bags. The whole thing about it being made in toilets is a myth these days. When people make it they usually stash it in common areas, not in their cells, that way if it gets found it can't be pinned on them. Vents are very popular for this, along with the inside of trash cans under the trash bag and in areas that have drop ceilings above the ceiling tiles. It stays there until it ferments, which depending on how strong they want it to be takes several days, and then afterwards it is usually bottled in whatever plastic container they have available (although usually water bottles) and then consumed and/or sold. They have to strain it before they drink it or it'll contain everything from fruit seeds to sediment. Usually this is done with a bed sheet that is thrown away after use. Hooch was going for $6 (12 stamps or 6 mackerels) a bottle where I was last. It's extremely strong and potent stuff and also fairly disgusting, but it does the job. It smells very strong also, so people who drink it have to do things to mask the smell like eat candy and spray fragrance they make. Most drinking is done in a bathroom or a cell where there aren't cameras and there's almost always a look out. A lot of people end up fighting because their drunk and usually, because of the reckless nature of the fight, they are caught and go to the "hole" (known as the SHU, or Special Housing Unit in the feds, it's 23-hour lock-down in a cell).

    I didn't do a lot of drinking while I was in prison. I only did twice and the second time I got extremely sick and swore off of it for the rest of my "bid." Usually hooch is a sickly orange color or a light red. It is made from everything from koolaid to raisins to potatoes, but usually it's made from sugar and fruits and/or fruit juice, usually oranges or grapefruits. Moldy bread is used for the yeast at places that don't have actual yeast. V8 is also very popular because the level of acid in it from the tomatoes ferments very well, but it also makes it taste awful. At the same time, it's not as bad as you might imagine. It's better than Thunderbird, lol.

    A lot of places restrict the items sold in the commissary or available in the kitchen to prevent hooch production. It got so bad at the low I was at that they took all sugar drink mixes and fruit juices off the commissary, locked up the sugar in the kitchen, stopped serving citrus fruit and only gave out artificial sweetener at breakfast.

    As for drugs, ALL drugs are available in prison. They are also very expensive. I didn't do drugs while I was in prison (or before prison, for that matter) and stayed away from all of that. Pills (including pills which are prescribed to inmates in the prison and instead sold by those inmates, although what medication inmates are allowed to get is extremely restricted and most medication is crushed up and has to be taken in front of medical staff during what's called "pill line") and marijuana are most common in prison along with cigarettes, of course. Most of it gets in through the COs and staff, although sometimes inmates have family/friends bring it in during a visit and they manage to sneak it back inside with them. Where I was at heroin had become a big problem, although I never saw any myself.

    How easy is it to bribe a guard?

    Well, I never tried, lol, but a lot of the times when COs bring things in it's because they want to make money, so they aren't really being "bribed" or it's because the inmate has established a strong (and usually earnest) relationship with them so they're willing to bring things to them, usually benign things like food or porn, but often cigarettes and drugs or cell phones. It's more of a passive thing than an aggressive or direct thing, in other words. Few people actually confront a CO and offer a bribe, although I'm sure it's happened. After awhile, if they build a solid relationship with a CO or staff member, an inmate might ask for something or attempt a bribe, at which point it might be considerably easy. Although I never bribed a CO, I did develop strong relationships with a few of them and they did favors for me and looked the other way on things, nothing major or even a violation of the rules in most cases, although I did have one CO bring me fast food once. Also, when I was in County jail, we had a CO bring us fast food several times a week. We would have our family bring it when they visited and put it in his truck outside and he'd get it when he went on break and bring it to us. In return there was some food for him, too. Basically, we bribed him with lunch, lol.

    The other thing that happens in prison is inmates getting involved in romantic or sexual relationships with female staff members. When this happens they are able to get a lot of things brought in to them from the outside. This relationship is usually earnest, but a lot of times the inmate is manipulating and "playing" the staff member. One big reason this happens is a lot of women get jobs in prison and are vulnerable. They quickly become "turned out" because many of them are lonely and not used to receiving so much attention from men and all of a sudden men are giving them so much attention in prison. It isn't usually because they're particularly attractive, often they are not and on the street they might even be considered to be "ugly," but in prison where men who have been locked up for sometimes 20+ years and haven't been with a woman in as long they are treated like goddesses and often they succumb to this attention.

    Did you meet any of the gang leaders? If so, how were they?

    I met several gang leaders, a couple of which I was friendly with. Namely I met a shock collar for the Latin Kings and the Paisa, which is basically the Mexican mafia. Both were really nice guys, actually, and I cooked with one of them a couple of times. They were surprisingly laid back and had been in prison for a long time. They were also very intelligent, which I think contradicts the usual gang stereotype. Mainly, their roles were as peace keepers. They just wanted to keep the peace by helping people work out problems with members of other gangs in a constructive matter.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 18
    ^ Top  
  5. PekkaK Heaviest Matter Developer

    PekkaK
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Parrots:
    133
    Is the whole "don't drop the soap" thing true?

    Not really, no. Like I said, most sex in prison is consensual and aside from that if people want to rape you they're going to do it whether you drop soap or not. Also, these days few showers are like the ones we've seen in prison movies and TVs where it's one big open area and everyone showers together. Most showers today are individual showers that contain some kind of barrier, but is often open enough so COs can keep an eye on you. This barrier may be a shower curtain (sometimes partial transparent so you aren't obscured from view), brick walls that don't go all the way to the ceiling, a plastic & metal door that obscures your lower body, hospital style curtain dividers, etc. There may simply a deep recess with no door or barrier, but is deep enough so only someone trying to look can see. A one point or another during my time I experienced all of these variants.

    Often inmates will put something up to signal they are in the shower so other inmates will not come around or they'll put some extra clothes up or make a curtain out of an extra towel or sheet to other obscure the view. This is a violation of rules since the COs want to be able to see you, but nearly all the time the COs never notice or look the other way and don't say anything. Also, if you want to take a shower and they're occupied you say "hey shower, who's got after you?" or "who's next?" and you find out and talk to them and make sure they are last. If they are you get in line behind them. Sometimes, if people get confused, or someone jumps in the time it can cause serious drama. The word "respect" is used a lot in prison and that person will be called out as being "disrespectful." Usually, though, someone to cool things down will offer their spot to the person who was jumped. Many inmates often make little sacrifices like that to resolve conflict and keep the peace. Also, if someone is getting their things together to take a shower they may close the curtain/barrier and/or turn the water on or put a towel up to signal that the shower is reserved until they can get in.

    At the low I was at we had very normal looking showers with curtains that fully obscured you, however, because of the amount of consensual prison sex that was happening in some of the showers they switched to curtains that were clear on the top and bottom and tan in the middle.

    EVERYONE wear's "shower shoes" in prison. These are rubber flip-flops, often they are orange or tan. In county jails sometimes that's the only form of footwear they give you. At the Low I was at they switched to black Crocks about halfway through my time. The reason this is so important is prison showers are often DISGUSTING and you never know what kind of germs (or what else) might get on your feet. If you don't wear the shower shoes you're asking for at the very least a fungus out break, possibly the most dreaded prison skin issue: a severe staph or MRSA infection.

    That said, I have witnessed people who showered in their boots because they were worried someone might jump them in the shower, lol.

    Regarding prison etiquette and showers, it is considered the most basic etiquette to exit the room and give your celly (cell mate) time to get themselves together and dressed when they come back from a shower, even though no one ever comes back to their cell naked or even just in a towel. Usually you get at least partially dressed in the shower. I always put on a short, underwear and shorts for example before I exited. I've been in situations where this was expected of me and they'd offer me the same courtesy when I got out of the shower, but with the last celly I had we became such good friends and so comfortable around each other that we never were bothered by the each others presence.

    As a random side note, soap is actually used as a weapon sometimes. Inmates manufacture "soap socks." This is a very popular weapon in county jails because of the limited availability of other weapons, especially because there are limited things to manufacture shanks out of... Basically you put at least one (but usually more) bars of soap onto a tube sock, often typing another sock to that one that isn't filled with anything to give more extended reach, and wet the tube sock with the soap until the bars kind of mold together and then while still wet you beat someone with it. It's surprisingly effective, especially if someone is jumped by multiple people welding them. I kept a soap sock for personal protection in one County jail I was at because it was so rough. I witnessed several people severely beat by people welding them. Thankfully I never had to use mine. I witnessed one person beat by members of the Blood gang (who were prominent at that one county jail I was at). Apparently the victim was also a Blood and he had told on (snitched) someone and they had found out. This is, of course, a big no-no in prison/jail. It doesn't matter who the person(s) told on, snitches will run into a lot of problems in prison. Blood members have a gang symbol tattooed on them called "paws" after what they resemble. Usually they are located on the arm somewhere and are almost always received in prison, sometimes simply by heading up the top of a plastic drink cap and burning it on. In the incident I witnessed, after they beat this individual, they used smuggled in contraband lighters to head up the tops of drink caps and burn the paws off of them. He ended up getting an infection from his wounds, but he lived and they put him in protective custody.

    I also witnessed socks being used that had dominoes in them from game sets some on the Commissary. These dominoes were made out of some kind of extremely hard plastic and inflicted way more damage than the soap socks. Also, in places where you have lockers and therefore have combination locks for them a "lock in a sock" is a popular weapon and it is exactly as the name suggestions: a tube sock with the lock in it. Locks are also used as quick weapons by just picking them up in the hand and striking someone with them or punching with them in your fist with a finger inside the loop of the lock almost like a brass knuckle.

    Also do new inmates go through some sort of hazing?

    When someone is considered to be "green" (the term "fish" is used, but rarely, and if it is used it is used only in the joking sense lampooning a by-gone era -- you're not going to see someone walk into a cell block and everyone start chanting "fish," that's Hollywood) they are hazed in an indirect way. For example, other inmates may try to bully or take advantage of them based on any perceived weakness, in particular their ignorance of how prison works and the overall system. Most of this is financially related, trying to extort money from them, other times it's sexually related with an inmate trying to "turn out" the person. It's almost always passive aggressive. In prison most people look out for each other and you'll quickly want to find "your people" upon arriving, this almost always means the people from your state or area -- your "home boys." Among them you will usually find almost instant acceptance and protection (unless, of course, you have snitched on someone or are a sex offender -- they will want to check your "paperwork" to verify what you did and that you're "clean" or "straight"). In some prisons that's who you will spend almost all of your time with. You will eat at a table only with people from your area (and usually a table predesignated for your area by the inmate population) and you will cell with someone from your area. If you don't run with people from your area, you might run with a gang if you are a member (it is a BAD IDEA to join a gang in prison, leave gangs alone), people of a certain religion (especially if you are Muslim -- the Nation of Islam is "deep" in prison, meaning they have a lot of members) or people of a certain race (anyone who is Hispanic might run together, and in prison they are all just said to be "Spanish" as a general term, that said they are often broken up by country and often gang themselves -- Spanish gangs often have the best alliances AND the worse feuds in prisons). Upon arriving in prison, most likely someone will try to help you out by asking where you're from and directing you to your home boys. They will also tell you the table you're people sit at and they'll be able to tell if you're "green" so they'll try to help you understand how things work, but they'll direct you to your home boys to actually show you the ropes. I've seen people who were brand new to the system try to sit with the wrong people and the people at the table asking where they were from and then explaining to them that they couldn't sit there and directly them to where they were suppose to sit. Most prisons are very segregated, although low security ones usually aren't, just higher security prisons.

    Most likely your home boys will even ask you if you need anything in complete earnestness and with no hidden agendas, especially hygiene products, and may even put together a care package for you to get you started.

    That said, usually any "hazing" that takes place will take place before you arrive at prison, in county/regional jails and transfer holding facilities. Here you may be beaten as part of some "initiation," especially if you actually are a gang member or join one (again, bad idea). People will try to take advantage of you in a much more aggressive way here and you will have to take a stand and defend yourself or it will get worse. They will try to get away with as much as possible and over on you as much as possible. They will try to steal things from you, including and especially your commissary and meal trays. They may jump and beat you for no reason at first, and generally mess with you so long as you let them or until the next new person comes in and they move on. They will "bid" off of you every step of the way, which is a prison term that basically means making their time go by using someone else as entertainment. People attempted to do all of these things to me in County jail, especially at the one I mentioned above, and every time I backed them down by standing up for myself (and also quickly finding people to band together, which sadly often means sticking together with people of your own race for protection -- there's a huge racial element to prison life and almost everything is ultimately broken down on racial lines). I also, as I mentioned above, armed myself. Anyone who is "green" will have a lot of problems in County jail and better learn fast or they could find themselves in a situation that is hard to get out of. Other inmates no this, which is why they move in and pray on new people quick. Trust no one in jail and no one is your friend. If you're acting friendly to you, ask yourself "why?" Ask yourself what they are getting out of it. They want something from you, plain and simple. They will manipulate and take advantage of you. Usually what they want is money or sexual favors. In fact, it is almost always one, the other or both. One trick they use is they will get one or two other inmates to threaten you and then another will ride to the rescue as your protector to gain your trust, but the whole thing was a setup/act. Next thing you know your rescuer is requesting commissary, money being placed on his account by your family, sexual favors, your trays, etc. for "protection." That's the passive-aggressive part, but often in jail things are just aggressive, as in just taking your things and attacking you. One reason for this is a lot of the people in county are younger and wilder. They are also just starting their time, whereas in prison most people have been there awhile and just want to do their time free of drama and be left the hell alone. Everyone is much more relaxed in prison than county jail.

    I also witnessed something in the holding facilities people called "gladiator school," where if you went out to the rec area people would get together and force you to fight someone else or everyone would beat you if you refused. The idea was to earn respect and see what you were made of before actually arriving at prison (holding facilities are usually your last stop before arriving at your prison designation). The whole thing was remarkably idiotic and I never went to the rec area as a result and just stayed in my cell. Thankfully, my celly tipped me off about it before I went to the rec area one morning or who knows what would have happened once I had gotten out there. I guess this is the closest thing to a hazing I can remember...

    I wonder if you could consider writing a book on the subject.

    I actually have the beginnings of several books. One is a non-fiction about my prison experience and the other is a fictional tale based on my experience. I also have a few outlines and beginnings for other works of fiction non-prison related and am helping someone else with a book on prison. I don't know what will come of these or when, but I think you're right that it is another way to turn an unfortunate experience into something beneficial.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 14
    ^ Top  
  6. PekkaK Heaviest Matter Developer

    PekkaK
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Parrots:
    133
    Let's say there's a fight - how much needs to happen for the place to go to a lockdown and how long does it usually last?

    There's two different types of lock-downs. The first is a lock-down of the compound, which means that everyone can freely move in what building they're in, but they can't move from one place to another. In federal prison there's something called "controlled movement" or "10 minute moves." Basically every hour they open up the compound and give you 10 minutes to go from one place to another. So if you want to go from the chapel to the library, for example, you have 10 minutes to do it. Once you're there, you're stuck there until the next move. Sometimes there are special moves and sometimes they are shorter than 10 minutes, but almost all of them are 10 minutes in length and occur every at the end of the hour. If anything happens -- someone gets in a fight, someone passes out, someone has a medical issue, someone goes to the SHU, they bring outside people onto the compound, etc. -- the compound is put on lock-down, meaning you're stuck where you are until they reopen it and call a move and all moves until then are cancelled.

    The other type of lock down is more serious and in this type of lock down people are confined to their cells until it's over with. I should note that not all prisons can lock down this way. For example, at the low I was at it would have been impossible to confine people to cells because a lot of the prison was an open dorm environment. In the housing unit I was assigned to we didn't have cells so much as rooms surrounded by thin cubicle walls that didn't quite touch the ceiling. There were no doors.

    However, at higher security prisons it is essential that they be able to completely lock the place down and quickly to keep things from getting out of control. They may lock down just one housing unit or the entire prison, depending on what happened. If they call a lock down, you should get to your cell IMMEDIATELY. Some people like to grab some ice from the machine if they have time cause who knows when they will be able to again, but if something is happening, like a fight, and they rush in and you're out you will get tased, gased, shot with rubber bullets, etc., even if you have nothing to do with whatever is going on. Often in these situations, even if you're locked in a cell you might get hit by a spray rubber bullet or get irritated by tear gas or mace.

    Sometimes, in serious situations, the entire prison is locked down. This usually happens if there is a gang feud going on or a riot breaks out. In fact, it almost always is gang related. It can last hours, a day, a week or months, depending on the situation. Once you're locked in you can't leave. They bring your food to you. Often times, because cells don't usually have showers (except in the SHU), they will let people out cell by cell for a quick 5 - 10 minute shower.

    If people protest anything, they will lock it down. If there's a big fight, they'll lock it down. If something happens and they don't know who did it, they'll lock it down. If they even get word something is going to happen, they'll lock it down. It will stay this way until they sort it out. If that means finding out the individual(s) involved in something, it will be until they complete their investigation. It often means that people will have to be sent to another prison before the lock down ends. Population control is very important to prison security and they can't let one side gain too much power... the demographics have to be perfect. Some gangs can't be kept together in the same prison. Following a lock down entire gangs may be shipped to another prison or large portions of people from a certain area or transfers may happen on racial lines. If individuals are the problem, at least one of them is transferred, some times both, but not to the same place. It's all about keeping the peace.

    To give you a basic scenario, let's say the Bloods and the Latin Kings have a "beef" and a fight breaks out. They're going to lock down the place immediately because let's say the fight happened in the rec yard, they don't want this getting back to the housing units because the Bloods and LK's might fight there. After the lock down, they'll probably either move all of the Bloods or all of the Kings to another prison. With one whole group gone, the problem is resolved.

    What was your favorite food inside?

    My favorite food that they served regularly at the "chow hall" was fried chicken. It wasn't great, and the pieces we got looked like the chickens had their share of steroids, but it was still fried chicken.

    Some of the holiday meals were good. On holidays they try to give a "special" meal. It's hit or miss. One time they gave us steak and an ice cream sandwich. I thought that was amazing.

    My favorite foods, however, were the ones we prepared in the unit. You'd be amazed what you can do with a microwave and how creative people get in prison with food. Some of the food we made was almost gourmet. My favorite dish was Thai Peanut Noodles, which is a dish my celly (who's Korean and was an excellent cook) came up with. I still think it was absolutely delicious, even now that I can eat whatever I want. It was spaghetti noodles with a Thai sauce made from peanut butter, crushed peanuts, garlic powder, coffee creamer, vinegar and other seasonings with sliced onions, green peppers and diced meat. There was always cooked and seasoned sliced bits of meat and sausage stick, which are a staple of prison cooking. The ones like this:https://www.highlandbeeffarms.com/356_h ... atalog.cfm and https://www.highlandbeeffarms.com/#prod ... atalog.cfm (these were the actual ones we used in prison, BTW) Sometimes he would add slices of chicken patty that we purchased from other inmates who smuggled them out of the kitchen. They sold three patties for $1 (2 stamps or a mackerel) and usually came wrapped in plastic wrap or a plastic glove. Trust me, it's a lot better than it sounds. The sauce had this amazing tang to it. I liked it because it was so different than everything else we had in prison

    I also love a prison nacho. This is a prison staple. Everyone makes there nacho different, but they are epic and probably will get you several miles closer to having a heart attack, lol. The one I made had seasoned fried rice at the bottom, generic Doritos chips, refried beans, chili beans, nacho cheese, cooked sausage pieces, duced tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and jalapenos. We'd often add other meat depending on whatever other inmates brought in from the kitchen. The best was adding roast beef to it. It took it to a whole different level. This sounds crazy, but it's still one of the most delicious things I've ever tasted in my life.

    How are prison jobs? And what's the wage? Are there woodshops, laundries, teaching jobs, chapels?

    Prison jobs are mostly a joke, but generally the more involved your job and the more skills required, the more you make. That said, inmates do mostly everything in the prison and keep it running, including all the repair work, electrical work, welding, etc. Those jobs pay the most. Pay is determined by grade, which is determined by seniority and job performance. Most jobs don't pay anything, but some pay a decent amount. Nothing like street wages, though. People can make anywhere form less than a dollar a month to a few hundred in certain instances. The most I've ever seen a prison job pay was about $1.20 an hour and that was at UNICOR, which is both the biggest joke ever and a modern example of slave labor rolled into one. UNICOR are basically factories within federal prisons. Different UNICOR factories do different things, could be make furniture or clothing. At Petersburg there was a print plant. UNICOR used to only do work for the government, but more recently it is now legal for them to accept outside contracts if the jobs would otherwise go overseas. Overall, UNICOR is the best money available in prison. It's also remarkably inefficient, corrupt and loses a lot of money when it shouldn't. Still, because it is the only opportunity to make any actual money in prison unless you have special skills a lot of people try to work there. There are waiting lists. If you have a fine to pay or have special skills it's easier to get hired there. Also if you have any prior UNICOR experience. Shifts work pretty much like a regular work day and week, unless there's no work in which they just don't work, but if there's work they can get a lot of overtime and that pays more. I've literally seen people go in at 7:45am and not come out until 10pm at night. People who work there told me it's not a good work environment, it's very dog-eat-dog between inmates, a lot of brown nosing with staff goes on and a lot of backstabbing. UNICOR's website: http://www.unicor.gov/

    I had a job as a unit orderly. I cleaned part of the floor, the water fountain and two wall fans. It took an average of 20 mins a day and I got paid between $18.00 - $32.00 a month to do it., usually it was on the lower end though.

    There are wood shops and other vocational opportunities in prisons. The wood shop wasn't so great at Petersburg, but the machine shop was quite nice and popular. People who completed it could get certified by the state of Virginia.

    There are laundry jobs. When I first got to prison we had in unit washers and dryers we could use, which were awesome. After a couple of years Obama signed an Executive Order limited energy use so they took those out, spent several millions of dollars upgrading the institution laundry facilities and we all had to take our clothes down to laundry and have them wash them. They always came back damp and dirty. It was horrible. As a result, the number of people hand washing clothes as a hustle skyrocketed. The going rate was 6 pieces of clothes (most people wouldn't do socks or underwear) for $1. They'd do blankets and sheets for $2. Before people doing this as a hustle was unheard of, but people did wash, dry and fold your clothes for you as a hustle. That was $1 per load and you had to provide the detergent.

    A lot of jobs mean people will get a certain hustle. Also, some people get jobs because of the hustle. For example, a lot of people want to work in the kitchen because they know they can make a lot of money stealing food and selling it. Laundry workers sell new clothes that are better than the ones they give you as hand outs.

    Every prison has a Chapel. County jails and regional jails usually do not. Most of the time your religious experience is limited there. At best, they might make Bibles and other religious text available and religious items like prayer rugs and Kufi's available for Muslims. Sometimes members or leaders of a local church may come by once or twice a week to speak to inmates in their cells. But in prison, religious is very big and important and in the federal system there are legal requirements that must be provided. For one, Chapels are required to represent and provide for all of the religions officially recognized by the BOP. This includes, but isn't limited to, Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, Nation of Islam, Moorish Science, Wicca, Judaism, Buddhism, Asatru, Native American, Santeria, etc. They must provide the funding necessary to carry out all of these religions and provide equally scheduled time in the chapel for all. Funding is allocated based on number of registered members of each faith, but even if there is only one member they have to provide minimum funding. One guy came from another place and he practiced Santeria, which is like a voodoo religion, and the chapel had to order $1,500 worth of things for him, including little idol dolls for worship. Videos, books and music are also available in the chapel. There are typically TVs with DVD players to watch the movies and stereos with headphones for the music. There's often a cold war going on between the faiths as they fight over limited funds, time slots and resources. No one is ever happy with that. There's a lot of drama that goes on with that, actually, and for that reason I mostly avoided the Chapel. The jobs are coveted, namely because it's a nice, air conditioned, easy job environment. The pay is also good. There are several Chaplains that oversee the different faiths. Most of the Chapel where I was considered of a giant room with multiple dividers that could be pulled shut as to infinitely expand or section off the room. Racism is present in some religions. The Asatru faith in prison are generally made up of members of the Aryan Brotherhood. Meanwhile, I don't think I've ever seen a white member of the Nation of Islam or Moorish Science and under Moorish Science there was a video called "What's Wrong with White People." A lot of "acceptable racism" goes on with those faiths. Several of the faiths have outdoor worship areas. The Native Americans have a fire and a sweat lodge. They can smoke pipe tobacco and one inmate is allowed to keep it in their room. He is called the "pipe keeper." Wiccans are have a fire pit they sit around once a week, as do the Asatru, who are allowed to drink non-alcoholic mead from a horn. Buddhists have incense and pillows and a gong. It's all pretty interested. I was a registered Buddhist in prison because it made the most sense to me, although I'm not very religious. On one occasion I was invited to the sweat lodge ceremony as a guest and I went. It was pretty awesome. Religions also get one special meal per year, which includes a "regular meat" (something that is served regularly like fried chicken) and a "special meat" (something that is unique to the religion). For example, Asatru might get venison, Wiccans might get boar, Muslims might get lamb, Rastafarian red snapper, Native Americans bear or bison, Buddhists got duck. The religion's members get together and decide. Jews and Muslims also get Passover and Ramadan means, respectfully. That said, I heard that this is the last year the BOP is providing "specialty meats" for religious meals. Not sure why.

    Finally, yes, you can get a teaching job. This can be as a tutor teaching GED to other inmates (which pays about $40.00 a month) or you can submit a lesson plan to teach an A.C.E. class (Adult Continuing Education). These classes take place at night and inmates get $10.00 a month per class. There was a time when they approved almost anything, so you had awesome and crazy stuff like Nuclear Physics and Marine Biology and TV Production, with the people teaching them actually having backgrounds in those subjects. The Marine Biology guy worked for NOAA, for example. But towards the end of my bid they put a moratorium on teaching new classes so you could only teach would had already been approved. I taught American Government and Public Policy because of my campaign and polisci background and I absolutely loved doing it. It was one of the best things I did in prison and everyone seemed to enjoy my classes. I took them very seriously and actually put effort forth, but some classes were also jokes. While it's true that all you had to do to pass the class was show up (or have your name on the sign in sheet saying you did), many classes were essentially courses designed just to make the people taking them look good. You see, you get a certificate for completing a class and it also gets put down in your file. Your unit team -- Counselor, Case Manager, Unit Manager -- wants you to "program" and one way to do that is to take A.C.E. courses. It keeps them off your back, but more importantly it can help reduce your points and lower points can actually change your security level. So if you're in a medium you can go to a low and if you're at a low you can go to a camp, which doesn't even have fences. It can also help convince your Case Manager to put you in for more halfway house time, which means leaving prison earlier. What this all means is that a lot of people take classes just for this reason and as you know with any market, whenever their is demand for something entrepreneurs will step in. As a result, teaching classes is sometimes a "hustle" because the teacher just signs an inmate in for them for a few dollars and they never even have to show up to the class but it's as if they did. Whenever I had a new class coming up, tons of people came up to me offering to pay me for this service, but that's not why I did it. I told them if they wanted to come in, sign in and leave I didn't care and would look the other way, but if the roster was checked by the staff (which did happen, but rarely) they were on there on and I wouldn't vouch for them.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 13
    ^ Top  
  7. Gregz Arcane

    Gregz
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2011
    Parrots:
    5,034
    Location:
    The Desert Wasteland
    PekkaK,

    Thanks very much for sharing your experiences with us. My first question is simple, how much of the following is an accurate depiction of modern day KWA prison life:

     
    • Brofist Brofist x 2
    ^ Top  
  8. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

    ERYFKRAD
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2012
    Parrots:
    13,552
    Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    And what about escape attempts, I gather most inmates don't bother with it?
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  
  9. anus_pounder Arcane

    anus_pounder
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2010
    Parrots:
    5,962
    Location:
    Yiffing in Hell
    So basically you're telling me prisoners get more social interaction, action, booty and money than I do. 'kay, brb gonna an hero. :negative:
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 11
    ^ Top  
  10. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

    ERYFKRAD
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2012
    Parrots:
    13,552
    Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Probably different in Tihar though eh?
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 3
    ^ Top  
  11. Turisas Arch Devil Patron

    Turisas
    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Parrots:
    9,448
    It wasn't him in the prison, silly.
     
    ^ Top  
  12. Gregz Arcane

    Gregz
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2011
    Parrots:
    5,034
    Location:
    The Desert Wasteland
    Whaaa? I thought we had some Codexer's on the inside =(
     
    ^ Top  
  13. PekkaK Heaviest Matter Developer

    PekkaK
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Parrots:
    133
    Yea Garland was the one who wrote those. He already registered here, but can't write any new posts yet before approval.
     
    ^ Top  
  14. Gregz Arcane

    Gregz
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2011
    Parrots:
    5,034
    Location:
    The Desert Wasteland
    oic
     
    ^ Top  
  15. GarlandExCon Arcane

    GarlandExCon
    Joined:
    May 19, 2014
    Parrots:
    2,513
    Hey everyone! Yeah, I'm the one who was in prison, not Pekka, lol. Anyway, I'm here now, so I'll be happy to answer questions that you have...
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 29
    ^ Top  
  16. GarlandExCon Arcane

    GarlandExCon
    Joined:
    May 19, 2014
    Parrots:
    2,513
    My first question is simple, how much of the following is an accurate depiction of modern day KWA prison life:

    Eh, not very accurate. As I said in response to some earlier questions, most prison sex is consensual and most people who are predatory and might be interested in having sex will go about it in a passive-aggressive manner. Obviously, there's more dangerous predators in maximum security than in medium or low security institutions who might try to rape someone forcefully. The main reason it happens there is you have people who have nothing to loose like people with life sentences who are never going home. What more can they actually do to them?

    His comments on "sagging" were interesting, though. When I was at the low and some of the younger inmates there would sag their pants I'd think to myself "they'd be in so much trouble if they did that anywhere else."

    The thing about "Lock Up" is that it tends to be accurate to a degree, but it focuses on extreme examples in the system so you don't get a wholly accurate picture of prison life. They also only usually cover maximum security prisons, which are dramatically different than lower security prisons. Even medium-high security facilities, which are only a step down from maximums, are dramatically different like night and day.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 22
    ^ Top  
  17. GarlandExCon Arcane

    GarlandExCon
    Joined:
    May 19, 2014
    Parrots:
    2,513
    And what about escape attempts, I gather most inmates don't bother with it?

    It's virtually impossible to escape between cameras and double layer razor wire fences and patrols with shotguns. I often pondered ways to escape where I was. I'd never try it, of course, but I wanted to see if I could find a reasonable escape route. They don't exist. Hilariously, the best shot would have been through the front door, which they seen to be aware of because they have cameras and it's well-guarded and has three electronic gates people have to pass in and out of to go through. To anyone in a lower security institution, the idea of escaping or attempting to is also thwarted by the promise of at least 5 more years to your sentence. At higher security institutions, where someone might have so much time they have nothing to loose, the attempt is thwarted by insane security.

    I heard two "escape" stories while I was in prison. The first was a guy named T-Rex. He was in his 60s with a big white beard and matching big gut. Used to be a biker. Nicest most reliable, friendly people I met in prison. Very trustworthy and if you were on good terms with him he'd help you out anyway he could. He was wild as hell in his youth and up into his 40s until he got caught. He had assorted charges over the years, most of them drug and armed robbery related. Basically, he has so much time he's never going home. Anyway, he told me a story about how he escaped and was on the run for over 15 years. They busted him and at his arraignment he hid some alka seltzers on himself and popped them in his mouth and used them to fake a seizure. They left him unsecured on the gurney and at some point they left him alone and he slipped out the door, but before he did he moved one of the ceiling tiles as a distraction so they'd think he went into the ceiling. He went into the parking garbage and saw a truck with the keys in it and stole it. It turned out it belong to the D.A. He took it and spray painted it a different color and that started his 15 year run. He got caught when his sister-in-law got busted and ratted him out.

    I also met a guy named Pappy, who was this other guy in his 60s who was a straight-up mountainman from the Tennessee/North Carolina border. He kinda looked like the Six Flags guy. Couldn't hardly understand a word he said. He once showed me pictures that consisted of a bunch of old, rusted bars on his property with weeds grown all over them and preceded to tell me, in complete seriousness, "these are my cars in my yard..." He also had Colon cancer and found this out in prison. His crime was moonshining and growing marijuana, although he indicated to me he took the fall for someone else for the marijuana, so since that wasn't so serious they put him in a Federal Prison Camp. A camp is very, very low security. One CO, typically no fence. When he was diagnosed with cancer he just walked off the camp and started walking home. They caught up with him about 10 miles from the camp. He told me he was trying to make it to the store to call to have someone come pick him up. For this they charged him with escape and gave him 5 more years and put him in a low security prison, which has a fence and lots of COs. I know, not much of an "escape," but still... He went home about a year before I did, invited me to come up there and go bear hunting with him, lol.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 21
    • Funny Funny x 1
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
    ^ Top  
  18. Job Creator Arcane

    Job Creator
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2012
    Parrots:
    4,324
    Location:
    tax haevan
    Is this a realistic depiction of prison life?
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 6
    • Funny Funny x 1
    ^ Top  
  19. GarlandExCon Arcane

    GarlandExCon
    Joined:
    May 19, 2014
    Parrots:
    2,513
    Is this a realistic depiction of prison life?

    LOL! Almost nothing is realistic about that in any sense.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 5
    ^ Top  
  20. anus_pounder Arcane

    anus_pounder
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2010
    Parrots:
    5,962
    Location:
    Yiffing in Hell
    Ye gods, MDickie. :lol: The man is insane, I tell you. He'd fit in right here actually.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
    ^ Top  
  21. PekkaK Heaviest Matter Developer

    PekkaK
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Parrots:
    133
    How prominent computers are nowadays? Do inmates have any kind of access to the Internet?

    Do you have any kind of contact with the higher ups, for example the warden?

    I suppose spreading rumors and gossiping is frowned upon, but do people get in trouble for doing this? This is very challenging game mechanics-wise, as the inmates need to be interesting and have a background and stories, but it's very difficult to create a believable prison system where people will give you this information about others. This is probably something where we have to give up on 100% realism and just make some of the prisoners blabbermouths.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 3
    ^ Top  
  22. GarlandExCon Arcane

    GarlandExCon
    Joined:
    May 19, 2014
    Parrots:
    2,513
    How prominent computers are nowadays? Do inmates have any kind of access to the Internet?

    I can only speak on the federal system. In the federal system we have something that is called TRULINCS on our end and CORRLINKS to outsiders. I really don't know why it's called two different things exactly. The website is https://www.corrlinks.com/

    We got TRULINCS when I was at the Low facility about 3 years into doing my time. It is now universal across the entire BOP. Basically they set up six computers in my unit with keyboard, mouse and monitor. The tower was locked in a cabinet on the desks that sat on. They were made by Dell. We had to enter log-in information to sign onto the system. This included our inmates number and also our PAC and pin number. I think PAC stands for Prisoner Access Code and it was a 9-digit code we had to remember and enter anytime we wanted to use TRULINCs, make a phone call, transfer money to our phone account, etc. Giving someone else this number was against the rules and if someone else got your PAC number it was considered a very serious event. The pin number was 4-digits and primarily was related to Commissary purchases. Originally we had a kiosk that looked like an ATM outside the Commissary where you could punch in your inmate number and pin and see your account balance and transaction records. When they got TRULINCS they got rid of this box because this information could be accessed on the system. About 4 years into my time they put thumb print scanners at the Commissary and then added the same to the TRULINCs system, which eliminated the need to enter our pin number. Instead, we would press our thumb to a pad they installed beside each computer. Everyone was allowed to use the system to the best of my knowledge there, although it is my understanding they can prohibit inmates from using it in certain circumstances, both as a form of punishment and because they believe that allowing them to use the system would cause problems (such as people with certain computer-related crimes, etc.).

    Originally TRULINCs was very basic. You could use it to contact staff, eliminating the old forms you had to fill out (although some staff members still wanted to use the old forms and sometimes it was better to use the old forms to create a paper trail -- TRULINCs gave staff members an excuse to ignore your requests). You could take surveys they occasionally posted. You could check your account balance and information and print all of your records in the library (with a cost of I believe 5 TRUunits per page -- more about TRUunits below). You could also view and print all of your Commissary receipts, which was actually very convenient. There was also a bulletin board where information, memos, flyers, etc. would be posted and could be read like a built-in PDF file.

    The other big change that came with TRULINCs was how we had to deal with sending out snail mail. We now had to enter all of our contacts into TRULINCs, including names, addresses and phone numbers (and e-mails, more on that in a second). The good thing about this was that phone numbers were almost instantly approved. The bad news is where we could before just hand write whatever address we wanted to send a letter to right on the letter and drop it in the mail box, now we had to print out address labels and put it on the letter. Any letter without a label would be returned to us. The labels were free and could be printed out at the library with a limit of 5 per day. They also had our inmate number on them at the top. The only way to print a label was to enter the address into our contacts in TRULINCS. There was also a limit of 200 address contacts per inmate, although I never got close to that limit and I did a lot of pen pal stuff so I probably sent out more letters than most other inmates. My guess as to why they were doing this was so they can know who we are writing. They can also, for example, know if inmates are writing the same address, if they're writing another prisoner/inmate/felon (generally against the rules, but it's a grey area), identify any anomalies with an inmates' contacts, etc. I also noticed when I came home that some of the letters I had sent home had marks that went over the address label. It looks to me like this is from where the letter went through some kind of scanner that scanned the address label, possibly to make sure one was there, but also possibly to record what address an inmate sent out a letter to (remember, the labels had our inmate numbers on them).

    The biggest thing about TRULINCs, though, was e-mail! We could add people's e-mail addresses to our contacts and, once they approved our contact, e-mail them whenever. There was no limit of how many e-mails could be sent or received, only a limit of 20 e-mail contacts total and you could only be on the e-mail part of TRULINCs for 30 minutes a day and then you had to wait 30 minutes to get back on it. This sounds great, but it didn't run quite that smoothly. For one, the approval process was a mess since the e-mail requesting that the person we want to e-mail accept our request to e-mail them often didn't make it past most e-mail provider's SPAM filters. Also, while you could set it up so you'd be notified when an inmate sent you a new message, all messages weren't sent directly to an individual and could be read and accessed only via the CORRLINCS website I linked above. So, when you consider this, TRULINCS/CORRLINKS was less e-mail and more like a message board-like intranet. Lots of people had problems with it outside of the initial approval process. The CORRLINKS website was constantly down, e-mails were received, etc.

    The whole thing was paid for via the Inmate Trust Fund, which is a fund that pays for inmate "luxuries" in prison like recreation equipment, microwaves, TVs, etc. Basically, all of the money we spend at the Commissary and on TRULINCs was suppose to go into the Trust Fund for those things and as part of that back into paying for TRULINCs e-mail. I think I touched on this in an earlier response that Pekka reposted here, but my perception of the Trust Fund is there's a lot of fraud and corruption is going on with it and I believe BOP staff are embezzling from it. They'd tell us we didn't have funding for certain things or that we ran out of extra TVs and microwaves but with the amount of money that inmates spend at Commissary and on e-mail (and later on MP3s, see below), there's simply no way something isn't going on, whether it's mismanagement or something actually criminal, I'm not sure.

    Anyway, on TRULINCs you could purchase TRUunits, which were .5 cent per unit. On e-mail one minute was equal to one unit so e-mail was .5 cents per minute to use. There was no limit of the total number of units you could purchase, although there was a limit of how many you could purchase at one time (I believe it was something like 500 or 600). You could also print your e-mails at a cost of 5 TRUunits per page. By the way, it cost .5 per minute whether you were replying to, reading or checking your e-mail. When you first log-on all you know is if you have any new unread messages because that is displayed in blue at the top of you do. Once you click the button to actually go into the e-mail service to check, it starts to cost money.

    Shortly after we got TRULINCs a rumor started going around about MP3 players coming to the BOP. Most of us had the attitude it was years away if it wasn't all just talk (rumors in prison that come from inmates, especially about changes to the system, are called "inmate.com" meaning gossip coming from inmates that, like the Internet, "don't believe everything you hear from it"). We knew some private prisoners already had them because private prisons are all about making money. We also heard that you had to buy some kind of card to purchase songs at those places. Then, we heard that Alderson, a federal women's prison camp in West Virginia mostly known for where Martha Stewart was incarcerated, they had a pilot program for MP3 players. This was confirmed by another inmate who's wife was doing time there. Then it was confirmed by the staffer in charge of the Inmate Trust Fund that it was coming but he didn't know when. Rumors circulated about it and eventually they started upgrading all of the computer infrastructure to accommodate the system, including new terminals. About a year after this process started, and about 6 months after we first heard the first date of when it was coming, all of which turned out to be false, we got an official date for the MP3 players. Everyone was so excited. Honestly, it was probably the most excited I'd been since coming to prison about getting anything. It was the biggest quality of life improvement we got while I was there -- like Christmas in September (I was so excited the morning the system came online I literally got up early and sat by a computer waiting for it to come on). They allowed us to purchase the MP3 players a week in advance. They were SanDisk and exclusively made for inmate use, with our name and number entered into the player and a verification system. Of course, it was a huge rip-off and God only knows what strings SanDisk pulled to get that contract. They were $25.00 players that we had to pay $69.00 to buy. Some people had lots of problems with there's breaking, but I never did. There was a problem with them freezing up and also the data on them becoming corrupted that I did see though. Fortunately, I never experienced this problem. The players were 8GB (space for about 1,800 songs) and came with earbuds and a built-in FM radio. Unfortunately, the radio was very weak so it was really only good for watching TV (in prison, the audio of the TVs is broadcast via radio frequency, so you have to have a radio to listen to the TV by tuning it to whatever station the TV is broadcasting on... kinda like how modern drive-in theaters work).

    One cool thing was they didn't have batteries and were rechargeable. They installed charging stations in every unit and you'd just plug your MP3 player in to one of about 30 firewire cables located on the charger and leave it there to charge. There wasn't a big theft problem with them because they were registered to each inmate and had the verification system (the only theft that occurred was when they started breaking and inmates would have their MP3 stolen so it could be used for parts to fix one that broke). The verification system by requiring you connect the MP3 player to a computer terminal (via another firewire cable they installed on each), log-in and then validate your MP3 player. This had to be done every 14-days or the player would lock and be unusable. The players also had a voice record feature on them, but this was disabled because they were specifically geared to be institution (even the instruction manual that came with them was geared towards inmates and prison usage).

    If you wanted to use the music service on TRULINCs you'd just connect your MP3 player to the computer and then log-on and click the music button to go to the music section. It looked like a stripped down version of iTunes. We could browse for a maximum of 60 minutes per day (in 15-minute time intervals), listen to up to 30 music samples a day (30-second samples), add songs to our "wish list" (maximum or 30 songs) or purchase songs. We could also delete songs, but we didn't get a refund if we did. All songs we had were edited so nothing with explicit lyrics. Also, if an album had short interludes they wouldn't even bother including those. Occasionally, one of these songs would slide through (mostly explicit ones) and they'd remove them later. If this was the case, and you had already downloaded the song, as soon as you connected your MP3 it would remove it automatically and refund your money for that purchase.

    The catalog of available songs was around 2 million songs from four U.S. labels. It was... incomplete, but better than I thought it was going to be honestly. I was heartbroken when I'd discover they didn't have a band I loved, though. For example, I'm a big Pavement fan and they had none of their songs. Once a month (usually the second Tuesday) they'd update the system, but the updates were kind of a joke. They added a section for "new releases" but a lot of the these were actually stuff that was already available or very old songs or duplicates of songs they already had just from different albums. There were a few new releases, but this was rare. Also, it seemed whenever they added something, they took other things away and usually what they took was better than what they added. I kicked myself more than once for not downloading certain songs before they removed them (even if they removed a song from being available for download, it remained on your MP3 player so long as it wasn't removed for being explicit).

    We could search for songs by artist, title, album, song, and genre, although the search was weird and often you had to type an artist name EXACTLY right or it wouldn't find it. For example, unless you typed "KE$HA" with the dollar sign, you'd get no results. Some of the songs were really oddly organized and titled too. They almost looked like bootlegs, lol.

    We could only purchase up to 15 songs each day. Only individual songs could be purchased, not entire albums at a time. A lot of times they'd only have a couple of songs from one album or an album would be missing tracks because those tracks were interludes. Songs cost either 16 TRU-Units (80 cents), 24 TRU-Units ($1.20), or 31 TRU-Units ($1.55) each, but I'll tell you something: I downloaded over 600 songs from the time they got the system until the time I went home and I NEVER once downloaded a 80 cent song. I don't even know if I ever saw one when I was searching through music. Most songs cost $1.55. The only reason I know that the 80 cent songs do exist is I had a friend who found some Boyz II Men songs for that much, lol.

    When songs were purchased, available songs were automatically downloaded onto our MP3 players. This was after we completed a kind of "check out" process by confirming we wanted to purchase the songs we had added to our "shopping cart." We had to buy TRULINCs for music purchases BEFORE we entered the music section. This was a pain because if you forgot to do so and entered the music section first you had to wait an hour before you could go back on. I'd say typically about half the songs you wanted were available immediately and half the songs you had to wait to get. This seemed to be based on whether or not another inmate had the song. If someone else had downloaded it, I noticed, it was available immediately from that point forward. The problem with this is whenever they'd do an update and add something new you'd always have to wait a day to get those songs. Downloading the songs to the MP3 player took about a minute, depending on how many songs you got. It was always a good idea to check-out before you had less than a minute remaining, otherwise even the available songs wouldn't finish downloading and you'd have to come back in an hour to get them. The screen would be bright red during the download process, warning you now to disconnect your MP3 as it could become corrupted if you did. Eventually, they added a diagnostic and repair utility that you could run to fix these problems.

    Songs that weren't immediately available were placed in a queue file to be downloaded the next day. So if I purchased music at 7pm on a Thursday I could download whatever songs didn't immediately download as soon as the system came on Friday morning (the system started itself up at 6:00am and turned itself off at 11:30pm everyday). All you had to do was connect your MP3 player, go onto the music section and the songs in queue would automatically start downloading. One thing that sucked is that once you downloaded some songs on a day and some were placed in queue to be downloaded the next day, you couldn't download anymore the request of the day. Even if you only purchased two songs and one downloaded and one was placed in queue. That said, if you downloaded 10 songs and all 10 downloaded immediately you could get back on as soon as an hour later and purchase up to 5 more songs.

    If an MP3 player was to break we could purchase a new one at the Commissary, plug it into the computer and all of the songs we purchased would automatically be transferred to that MP3 player. This was good, since it meant losing or breaking your MP3 player didn't mean also losing all of your music. If your MP3 broke or messed up because of a manufacturing flaw and it was under warranty the process of getting it replaced or fixed depended on the institution. I've heard higher security institutions simply replace the MP3 player and send the MP3 back to the vendor and they receive the refund, but at the Low I was at they sold MP3 envelopes at the Commissary and you had to bring your MP3 player back to the Commissary in that envelope and they'd send it to the vendor for you so they could fix or replace it. I believe there was a 1-year warranty.

    Once an inmate is released from prison (like me) you can send your MP3 player to SanDisk and for $15.00 they are suppose to unlock it for you, send you all of your music files on a CD and also send you the necessary firewire cables for using it. I haven't sent mine out yet, but I'm going to do so at some point.


    Do you have any kind of contact with the higher ups, for example the warden?

    I saw the Warden about a dozen times in my almost 6 years in prison. When they come around, usually it's an epic event and they're doing basically a walk-through tour of the place, generally with other higher officials (and often from outside of the prison itself, like BOP officials from D.C.). Whenever this happened I hated it because as a unit orderly they cracked the whip on us extra hard about making sure everything was clean and orderly and the unit team (Counselor, Case Manager, Unit Manager) would threaten harsh punishment for any room/cell found to be in violation of the rules. Often they'd come down earlier in the week of an expected "big shot" visit and terrorize us by shaking down our cells and generally just making our lives miserable. Basically, they wanted to look like they were doing their job, even though the other 364 days of the year they didn't do a damn thing.

    The best place to talk to any higher-ups, or any staff for that matter, is at mainline. Mainline basically means whenever a meal is served in the chow hall, namely the lunch meal. Staff all stand at mainline on a set day and that's when you have access to them. They stand by a wall by the serving lines and you can walk up to them to ask questions. It's a good idea to stand there a few feet away from them until they recognize you and wave you over. This is the best time to ask questions or have grievances addressed, but don't expect much, they love to give the run around and will usually ask if you've filed a BP 8 (more on this below) or direct you to another staff member. The Warden stood main line a few times while I was there. The Associate Wardens are more easily accessible. Most of them insist you follow the chain of command and some flat out hate it when you step outside of it.. For example, lets say you have a grievance with medical and you go up to the Associate Warden about it. He'll probably tell you to talk to someone from medical first, etc.

    Another issue with main line is the people there aren't wearing badges or name tags with their names and positions on them, so often you have no idea who these people are and might not known that the person that you should be talking to about your problem is standing right there. I believe this is intentional. They don't want to have to do any work or deal with inmates if they can avoid it.

    The typical way to have problems solves, questions addressed, make requests, etc. is by a form called a BP 8. A BP 8 is actually the start of the administrative grievance process. After that there's BP 9, 10, 11 -- each one going higher up the chain of command with your problem. BP 11 will take your issue all the way to the regional board of the prison in D.C. Most inmates never get past a BP 8. Either because they don't need to (BP 8's are used for somethings like asking to join a recreation class and that's addressed and nothing higher is needed), or because they give up... and that's what the whole process is designed to do: get you to give up. The whole thing is so tedious, time consuming and bureaucratic by design for that reason. The idea is that unless the problem is very serious, the inmate won't make it through the hurdles. Also, a lot of time by the time you get to someone who can actually help you the problem has resolved itself, often poorly. Once you file a BP 8 they are suppose to give you a written response in 30 days. They will wait the entire 30 days and often you still won't get a response and will have to press further to get a response. Often staff will claim they never got the BP and to file another one. Eventually, once you get a response, if you don't like it (you probably won't) you have 30 days to file an appeal. This is when the BP 9 comes in... It's hard enough to get a BP 8 (especially since TRULINCs staff messaging came into play because now when you go to get a BP 8 they know it's for something serious and not just asking to take a class, etc.) because they don't like to give them out because it means you're "putting paperwork on someone" (inmate lingo for filing paperwork against staff for grievances), but getting a BP 9... Oh man. You're suppose to get them from your Counselor, but he'll duck you and give you the run around because he knows if you're asking for a 9 it's something serious that's likely staff related. He/she may also try to claim that you need to file a BP 8 first, even if you already have, so it's important to have your BP 8 with you when you request the BP 9 form. It goes on from here. The BP 10 goes to the Warden and often this is where it stops. Also, with BP 10s they have 60 days to respond and with 11's they can have up to 90 days to respond. By this time, most likely, your problem is resolved for better or for worse. Each step up the chain you have to file an appeal if you don't like the response and you have 30 days to do so. If they even claim they received your appeal one day late you have to start all over.

    Because of the absurdity, tediousness and general BS associated with the process there are actually inmates in prison you can PAY to file your BP 8 - 11's for you. For them, this is a hustle. These people are AWESOME at doing this. They know all the pits falls and in's and outs of the process. They are also persistent and don't give up. These inmates are a thorn in the side to the staff and the staff is well aware of who they are... Often, they'll gave to them just so they don't have to deal with them, which is why they're so effective at what they do. When an inmate like this tells a staffer he's going to "put some paper" on them, it actually strikes fear in the heart of the staffer because they know this is not a hollow threat and usually they give in to the inmate. These people literally sit in the law library all day long and just file BP 8's, 9's, 10's and 11's for themselves and others about anything and everything. Some of them do it just for fun or to beat the system. If there's anything they don't think is being done right -- if they got so much as one spoiled carton of milk -- they will "write it up." While staffers don't usually mess with these inmates because they know they don't f**k around they also quickly label them as "problem inmates" and they sometimes do what they love to do with all of their problems: send them away. I've literally seen inmates transferred to other prisons for filing too much paperwork and generally complaining too much. Often, the power they have to do this is used as a threat against inmates (i.e. "you file paperwork on me I'll have your ass shipped to California"), but a lot of these inmates have been locked up a long time which is why they have such a firm grasp on how the system worked so they are immune to these threats.

    I suppose spreading rumors and gossiping is frowned upon, but do people get in trouble for doing this? This is very challenging game mechanics-wise, as the inmates need to be interesting and have a background and stories, but it's very difficult to create a believable prison system where people will give you this information about others. This is probably something where we have to give up on 100% realism and just make some of the prisoners blabbermouths.

    Gossiping, rumor spreading and talking about people behind their backs is definitely looked down upon and someone who does it all the time will quickly develop a reputation as being a "snitch" and people will, at the very least, disassociate with them. I've known a lot of inmates like this -- many were green and didn't know any better -- others just did it because that was what they liked to do. I knew one guy, he was a guy in his 60s from Alabama who was green as hell and loved to run his mouth and get in people's business and gossip. I never had an issue with him and I felt slightly sorry for him because he was a true fish out of water and had a fresh (first time) 25 year sentence which would most likely mean a death sentence for him given his age and health. That said, he's very lucky he was at a Low so no one really messed with him, but other than getting a bad reputation his mouth definitely caused him problems and he actually got his ass beat a couple of times over it and threatened a few more. Had he been at a Medium facility or higher, he would have probably gotten stabbed. One thing about a Low, if you have problems you've got to be doing not just something wrong, but a lot wrong. The double-edged sword about low security is that while it's laid back and mostly problem free, this also means people get away with a lot of BS they shouldn't get away with because they have no fear factor. In other words, no one "checks them" when they do things like gossip or snitch. Even if they aren't telling COs/staff directly, the fear is that what they're saying could get back or be overheard by staff.

    Sometimes what they're going around saying isn't even that bad or serious. It's nothing that would get anyone in trouble, in other words. There's actually a term for this in prison, it's called "dry snitching." In other words, putting someone's business out there without it having any negative repercussions. The opposition would be like "wet snitching" (although this term is never used, wet snitching is just snitching), where there are or potentially are negative repercussions, such as would be the case of a prison snitch/informant who tells a CO that another inmate has a shank or hooch, for example.

    Being trustworthy in prison and being known as someone who can "hold water" (i.e. not go around telling everyone's business) is a good reputation to have and arguably the most important. If you're known as someone who minds their business, you're already half way to a trouble-free prison bid.

    Anyone who doesn't have this and is known for going around spreading rumors or gossip, yes, will have serious problems, rarely in Low security prisons (although sometimes), but almost definitely in Medium security prisons and positively in Penitentiaries. There it's almost a certainty that someone who gossips will at some point offend someone that it gets back to and that person (or, usually in those environments, PERSONS since everyone rolls with a group, if not a gang than people from their area) will get beat up at the very least and killed at the very worse. They may get simply jumped and beat or something more serious like shanked or have boiling hot baby oil thrown on them, etc.

    Typically it'll go down like this:

    1. Someone will hear the snitch tell another inmate/CO something
    2. This will get back to the person that was part of what was told (usually via one of their "homeboys")
    3. Either the snitch will get jumped or be confronted by the person (and probably other people he runs with) about it.
    4. Even if the snitch denies it he'll probably still pay for it, although I've seen scenarios where the person who overheard what the snitch said is here to confirm it.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 21
    ^ Top  
  23. GarlandExCon Arcane

    GarlandExCon
    Joined:
    May 19, 2014
    Parrots:
    2,513
    A couple of things I thought everyone might find interesting:

    Dungeons & Dragons in Prison:

    This might surprise some of you, but old school pen and paper D&D is extremely popular in prison. Some people literally spend hours at a time playing. For some, it makes up the bulk of how they spend their time. For those that play it provides an escape from prison into a fantasy world. I know because I played a ton of D&D while I was in prison. All together I probably played over a thousand hours of D&D while incarcerated. I played with a small close-knit group of friends and we while we'd speak to the other groups and loan them materials, we never played with any other groups (more on that below). My best friend and cell mate was DM and he created a huge epic campaign that we played an average of 4 hours a night for almost 3 years. When all was done he had created an entire world complete with multiple story arches and hundreds of NPCs. It was actually very fun and very impressive and it made time fly by so fast. It was one of the funnest things I did in prison and when I played I forgot where I was for a few hours. On any prison compound you'll find literally over 100 different D&D books, maybe as many as 1,000, and different groups trade and loan each other books and materials. In just our group we had over 20 books. We also had dozens of map packs as did others, but many of our maps had to be had drawn the old school way. Towards the end of my time they stopped letting maps in through the mail. We also had cardboard tiles and we were the only ones that had those. It was amazing because they came in through the mail which was unheard of... it was a total fluke, but an awesome one. When we first started they didn't allow dice sets into the prison, so people made their own dice. I was always amazed when people made dice out of cardboard, glue, toothpaste and/or sand and they'd actually come out amazing. Think about making a working D20 out of cardboard and toothpaste and tell me you're not impressed. Eventually they got a pilot version of what's called the Creative Minds Program at the prison I was at and we were able to get real sets of dice. They never got passed the pilot version of the program while I was there, which I contribute to lazy recreation COs, but had they we would have been able to order more D&D stuff as well as board games, etc.

    At the prison I was at there were maybe a dozen D&D groups. Most of them gathered and played down at the gym at tables in one of the rec areas. My group had only 5 at its peak and we played in our unit in our cell (this was only possible because we all lived in the same unit), but some groups were as big as 10. Most prisons have multiple groups that play and groups often break down lines of sexuality (lots of gay D&D players), offense and race, although most are white. That said, it was hilarious to me when I'd talk to a big black dude with muscles and gang tattoos and he'd start talking to me about playing as a Tiefling Sorcerer. Some people play it that you'd never suspect.

    Most are nerdy white guys, though, and almost all of them are sex offenders. While I had no issues with any of them and treated everyone with respect and judged people by the character they showed me, not what they did, one key reason I only played with my group of friends and never there groups was that. It's a guilty by association thing. But, honestly, they were all good (albiet flawed) people and more pleasant to be around than a lot of other inmates who were in prison for something that's generally more "accepted" behind bars. We also freely loaned and traded books and materials with their groups.

    As for why this is, I have two theories. The first is that I think that since almost all of their crimes were non-touch sexual offenses involving a computer (i.e. child pornography) that the use of a computer and the like of other nerd things just went hand-in-hand, and second and to a lesser extent, I think for a few of them the role playing and fantasy element went hand-in-hand with the sexual deviancy that caused them to commit their offenses. It is for the latter reason that some prisons have banned or restricted role playing games like D&D because they say it interferes with sex offender treatment.

    That category, by the way, is a complex one and is an entire different topic, but I'll say this: the majority of the ones I did time with were good people convicted of Internet charges who I think made a very stupid mistake and will never do it again. Then you have some of them who I think are deep down good, but flawed people who need treatment because they have a deviancy that could cause them to re-offend and molest children in the future. Then you have the final category and these are the people who are actually bad people with a serious sexual deviancy who are a serious threat to society. I refer to these as the "Hinawi's" after a seriously twisted individual I met behind bars who was a complete sexual deviant and was caught trying to smuggle homemade videos into the country of himself having sex with children, including his own niece and nephew, via Reagan International Airport. I'm not big on the idea of civilly confining anyone because I believe it to be a violation of Constitutional rights, but that guy might be a candidate.

    Anyway, moving on...

    A Few Famous(ish) People I Met in Prison:

    ➛Michael Vick: I spoke to him briefly when I was in regional jail. He was back for a court appearance related to his dog fighting charges.
    ➛William McCorkle: He was an infomercial guy in the late 90s. He was one of the first infomercial guys the feds brought down for "fraud" to set an example. He went home late last year before I did. I knew him well and helped him write some things. He became religious in prison and wants to start a bible college and become a televangelist. He has an interesting personality... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_J._McCorkle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_qQvjFgN2c
    ➛Mark Siljander: Former U.S. Congressman and Deputy UN Ambassador. Nice guy. I walked the track with him and we talked a few times. It was funny because even in prison he acted like a politician in the way he talked to people. His charges, money laundering, obstruction and conspiracy related to accusations of lobbying, seem largely trumped up to me -- a response by people who didn't like what he was doing with Islamic charities. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_D._Siljander
    ➛Tempo: A Puerto Rican rapper that's very famous there. He released tracks from prison and was arrested at the Latin Grammy's. I played basketball with him once and he seemed nice enough. The Puerto Ricans at the prison swooned over him when he got there. When he left the prison later that day they showed him boarding a plane on Univision http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempo_(singer)
    ➛James Sharpe: Former Mayor of Newark, New Jersey. I don't think I ever talked to him, but I did see him around a lot. At the time I didn't know who he was... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharpe_James
    ➛Daniel Masarik: Former Milwaukee police officer; convicted in 2007 of civil rights violations in connection with knifepoint beatings. It was fairly high profile. I talked to him a few times without realizing that was him.
    ➛Abdul-Halim Al-Ashqar: Convicted on "terrorism" related charges for "obstruction of justice" and "racketeering" charges related to Hamas. He also ran as an independent candidate for Palestian President. He was an extremely nice and respectful man and I believe he was brought up on the charges as punishment for refusing to testify against his friends. He lived right down the hall from me and I interacted with him daily. He let me borrow his copy of The Wall Street Journal everyday http://www.webgaza.net/palestine/people_profiles/Ashqar_Abdul-Halim.htm
    ➛Tarik Shah: Convicted of being an "Al Qaida Sympathizer" over something he said to an informant about offering to help teach members of the Iraqi insurgency and that's it. He really did get a raw deal. He's also a martial arts expert and an amazing bass player. I got the chance to see him play several times. He played at Clinton's inaguration. I talked to him many times as we lived in the same unit. In fact, on my next to last day I spoke to him for about 20 minutes by the microwave and we talked about Thai cooking and Chuck Norris. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarik_Shah
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 32
    ^ Top  
  24. anus_pounder Arcane

    anus_pounder
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2010
    Parrots:
    5,962
    Location:
    Yiffing in Hell
    Is it true rapist, child molestors and the like are considered low - to put it mildly - even by other criminals?
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  
  25. Crane quorum plaustra vagas rite trahunt domos Patron

    Crane
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2013
    Parrots:
    848
    Serpent in the Staglands Divinity: Original Sin 2 Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Wow, reading this thread has been incredible. I'm not sure when you're planning to go through on the book plans, but when that time comes, is there some way we can be notified?
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 2
    ^ Top  

(buying stuff via the above buttons helps us pay the hosting bills, thanks!)