1. When I first got there, I had to watch an instructional video on how not to be raped.
“When I first got there, I had to watch an instructional video on how not to be raped….That was legitimately the scariest memory I had of it.”
2. I always remember the first door that closed behind me that didn’t have a handle.
“I always remember the first door that closed behind me that didn’t have a handle.”
3. The first moment the guards shut the cell door and lock you into your new 7 x 9 home is an unforgettable experience.
“The first moment the guards shut the cell door and lock you into your new 7 x 9 home is an unforgettable experience.”
4. One guy slashed the other’s face repeatedly with a razor blade melted into a toothbrush.
“My very first time in jail when I was 18 was a bit of a trip. Went through the whole entry process where they check your butt for stuff, make you feel like a piece of shit, threaten you, etc. It was pretty fun. Then the group I was with were split up to head to different cell blocks. My foot was barely through the cell block door when a siren started blaring and we were told to face the wall and not move. A bunch of guards rushed the cell block and after a couple of minutes they rushed a guy covered in blood past us followed by a guy I assumed was the cause of the blood. Find out later that they had an argument about a fucking book so one guy slashed the other’s face repeatedly with a razor blade melted into a toothbrush.”
5. Being raped by a kid 10 years younger than you is humiliating in itself but being forced to French-kiss the kid is even worse.
“Being raped by a kid 10 years younger than you is humiliating in itself but being forced to French-kiss the kid is even worse. You learn very quickly that if you are a targeted inmate that you stop taking care of your oral hygiene. Nobody wants to kiss you if you have green teeth.”
6. I didn’t sleep, I laid on my bed clutching tweezers and shaking.
“I saw people die, I watched them go completely insane, I was in a lot of fights but nothing compares to that first night when I arrived. I was 18, blonde, and pretty and people wanted to kill me on sight. I didn’t sleep, I laid on my bed clutching tweezers and shaking. I lost a lot of hair that night, I was that scared.”
7. Watching a dude get beat senseless with a padlock in sock…over a dessert.
“Watching a dude get beat senseless with a padlock in sock…over a dessert…”
8. It was literally a torture camp run by active and open members of the KKK.
“Several moments come to mind. Like others said, getting there is terrifying. On top of that where I went is the largest prison in Florida and very very old fashioned like in the movies. Miles upon miles of fence and razor wire and gun towers everywhere. It takes a long time just sitting on your bus waiting for them to process one at a time. And then you get off in the sally port and they immediately strip you and toss all your county garb in a bag and the county guys take off. And there you are naked with 50 other guys and this enormous redneck motherfucker who has literally been doing this exact shtick for over 20 years proceeds to just attempt to humiliate and terrorize all the new inmates. Everyone who came through there had a story about this guy. You’re all naked and you all have to spread your asses and he makes you stand ‘nut to butt’ and if you aren’t close enough to the guy in front of you he will push you into him literally pushing your dick into his ass. Then you sit on a wooden bench in your new boxers for hours while these two black ladies who are the DMV ladies on steroids proceed to call people up one at a time and ask them the routine questions in the most stereotypical ghetto state employee way. There’s no translators for the nearly 1/4 of the new inmates who speak no English whatsoever so they just ask the questions louder and louder and get angry. Anyways you go through all that and then get assigned to your dorm and I’m one of the last people in this room so I’m the only one assigned to my dorm on this trip into the compound. So we walk up to I block which is this ¼-mile-long 50’s style cell block and I have to climb three flights of stairs by myself and then I’m in it. This shit is real. The officers throw some abuse at me and then tell me my bunk assignment. Wing 3 cell 32. Bottom floor end of the row. And I walk through this sliding bar door and it closes behind me and I walk down this real fucking life cell block with all these faces staring at me and into my cell. We were all youth offenders and I ended up being in the room with this pretty cool Mexican kid who immediately gave me some cigarettes and coffee which I hadn’t had in the eight months I was in county. Smoked and drank as much as I could and then spent about an hour throwing up. Stayed there for a month and it was so incredibly boring and the hottest place on earth. No windows, just open brick and bars to the elements in a concrete block building with no circulation in July. It was easily 120 degrees on most days in there. Lock down all day every day aside from chow with no books or radios. Cut a couple guys in the canteen line and they told me to get to the back and I told them to fuck off because they had all been doing it but I was white. So they jumped me the next morning when the doors rolled for breakfast. Tried to get me to give them my cigarettes the next day and I told them to fuck off again. They jumped me again the next morning. That probably would have continued for a while but I finally shipped out.
Then things took a major major turn for the worse. I arrived at my permanent ‘camp’ and it was a youth offender deal with about 1000 inmates where it’s run like a boot camp. It was literally a torture camp run by active and open members of the KKK. The resident skinheads were traditionally shit on by everyone else as being snitches because their gang leader was actually a sergeant. They got all the cushy maintenance and construction jobs. While I was there two officers killed a kid by PT’ing into a heat stroke and then beating him while he was unconscious and then dragging him into direct sunlight and leaving him. They went to jail and the ball started rolling from there. After I left the FDLE launched a massive investigation and fired and prosecuted over 30 guards for abuse. The abuse was very real and very traumatic and went on daily for the three plus years I was there. The scariest moments outside of that were when I was targeted by the Latin Kings for some perceived transgression and had a few very sleepless nights waiting for retaliation but things eventually smoothed over. There were several riots that were scary themselves but the scarier part was when the rapid response team showed up. Several hundred CO’s from surrounding institutions who are on call the squash riots. They come heavy and they come armed. All non-essential work and school assignments are cancelled and chow is the only movement allowed. One dorm at a time. You could end up eating breakfast at 11 and lunch at 4 and dinner at 9:30 at night. No phones, no canteen, no nothing. Strip searches five times a day. Full dorm searches which include taking everybody’s personal shit and just throwing it all over the fucking place.
The only riot that I actually felt personally unsafe in was when shit just kicked off randomly at chow with the dorm that was ahead of us. It was a coordinated attack on one guy by about five and as they were stabbing him shit just went nuts. Everything is flying and everyone is fighting and a bunch of us who were gang neutral just decided to GTFO. As we were running to the back door by the kitchen we just watch this kid in the kitchen get hit with this giant steel paddle for stirring grits and soup and shit and it just fucking scalps him. It was some nasty shit. We got out and hit the ground immediately and just waited for shit to settle down. I was definitely in one of the roughest institutions in the state and it was a wild ride. Coming up on six years out and I’ve stayed out of trouble since.”
9. Every time you are passing someone, are they going to shank you? Are they going to cold cock you in your face?
“Day 1. Everything is just scary as can be. You don’t really know where you will be safe, if anywhere. Every time you are passing someone, are they going to shank you? Are they going to cold cock you in your face?
Chow time was total panic mode. Hundreds of violent thugs in a close group outnumbering the guards, 25 to 1. If something went down, you would be dead before order was restored. When incidents happen, you have to hide, but not cower. You have to keep your back to the wall so you can fend off any incoming attacks. So the first chow time a fight broke out was the scariest time I was there.
As days went on, you become more aware of when to be alarmed but there are plenty of sneak attacks that come when all is calm. Just don’t go.”
10. I was labeled a race traitor by the whites and was told someone would be coming to slit my throat.
“The first week of my 12-year set was the worst. I was a skinny 20-year-old with no criminal history, and it takes a while to learn that most people are mostly talk. I accidentally sat at the black table at chow, made a point of staying there and eating with them when they showed up to avoid offending them, was labeled a race traitor by the whites and was told someone would be coming to slit my throat.
Nobody came, as most people don’t want to be inconvenienced with a long stint in the hole for killing someone for something so small, but I slept with a pen cap hooked to my watch band holding a sharp pencil against my wrist in case I had to stab someone in defense. Living for days with the crippling fear of imminent death fucked with my nerves. My hands shake a little now.”
11. When I entered the cell, my cellmate said jokingly welcome to hell.
“The first time the metal doors slammed, I am in eastern Europe, we still have heavy, solid doors. That, combined with the jiggle of keys was nerve-racking.
When I entered the cell, my cellmate said jokingly welcome to hell; I was terrified.
But per total it wasn’t that bad.”
12. Waking up at 4am covered head to toe in sweat staring at my cubicle wall.
“Dreaming about being free; being with family, playing in my backyard. Then waking up at 4am covered head to toe in sweat staring at my cubicle wall. That was on day 3 of 1,945.”
13. Being in such a confined space without ventilation makes the effects of tear gas, stun grenades, and pepper balls worse.
“Riots. It’s gotta be riots. Where I was at, there weren’t individual cells, least not for my threat level- non-affiliate, educated, no priors. Think of it as a 60’x100′ concrete rectangle with bunks lined up in three neat little tiers/rows, of which one is usually reserved for blacks. This was a ‘dorm’ with an inmate capacity between 64-126.
So there’s about 96 of us in there, normally everyone is chill with each other. The race thing never escalates so long as everyone is respectful, keeps to their own, and the dialogue between the reps is open. I ran with the blacks, and the Hispanics usually outnumbered us 4:1. One day, two youngsters were horse playing and accidentally slapped a southsider (Hispanic). Instead of apologizing and taking the time to get this sorted out by our people, he ran and hid. This escalated into a shouting match and then to a riot. As all the blacks occupied one tier to themselves, we overturned our bunks to use as barricades. Any black who wasn’t inside was free game, I remember one guy getting swarmed and he was crying out ‘I didn’t do anything! I didn’t do anything!’ So don’t ever get caught on the shitter. And when a riot breaks out, everyone belonging to the races involved has to participate, doesn’t matter if you’re cool with a Hispanic or not, it’s obligatory because others are always watching, and if you don’t they’ll report you to whichever dorm or facility you get sent to next. Prison is a small world. Word spreads easily from a kite or a guard.
In a riot, no one wants to get hurt, it involves a lot of things being thrown or feints being made. It became like a tug of war, the Southsiders on one side trying to pull apart your bunk wall, and the blacks on the other side pulling simultaneously. One of the blacks ended up getting grabbed onto, and he was begging us to pull him back in, you can imagine an almost comical scene from our side half-heartedly making an effort. Makeshift projectiles are being thrown, they’re using the electrical sockets for the television to light things on fire to throw those.
Being in such a confined space without ventilation makes the effects of tear gas, stun grenades, and pepper balls worse. Only thing to do is hope that someone has a wet cloth or some hair grease. Cover or smear it all over your face and wait for the burning and pain to subside.
Prison. I don’t recommend it. If you’re wondering how I landed myself in there, pride. Pride makes you do stupid, meaningless shit for equally stupid, meaningless people.”
14. I remember getting jumped, beaten to a pulp.
“I did two years, I was only 19 when I first when in. I remember getting jumped, beaten to a pulp, and I didn’t honestly get afraid till after when you are recovering and kind of helpless. I saw kids the same age as me get raped, so in the midst of just getting jumped by a gang for not handing over my food, wanting to take a shower, I started to notice people looking at me different and knowing how careful I had to be. Thank god I never did get raped, but god knows I had come very close several times…it still gives me a sick feeling of how helpless and alone I felt.”
15. Prison is not a part of human rights. It is psychopathic.
“They pronounce you a savage. Laws no longer apply, rape is a joke, not a horrible violation of someone’s humanity, and either you do as the wardens say and don’t get any punishments (just general bad treatment), and get beaten up by the other prisoners, or you listen to the prisoners and stay there longer, getting beat up by the guards. Prison is not a part of human rights. It is psychopathic.”
16. One of my best friends on the outside was black. On the inside he got stabbed and jumped by a group of Mexicans.
“One of my best friends on the outside was black. On the inside he got stabbed and jumped by a group of Mexicans. I am Native American. I watched it all happen on the yard and wasn’t allowed to help him. Still fucks me up.”
17. My cellie is a 300lb black chick, who proceeds to tell me that her name is Sherry and ‘she don’t fuck with white meat.’
“I was in jail, not prison but whatever. I got arrested on a plethora of charges one evening, bail was set at 150k and no one was posting it any time soon. At the time I had dermal implants, the piercings that are literally implanted in your skin and need to be cut out. The correction officer who did my intake told me I had two options, I could rip them out (not happening) or I could go to lock-back which is 23 hour lockdown, in a very very tiny cell with one cellmate. I opted for the 2nd option. You normally only get put in lock-back if you get into a fight, or you’re in for a serious crime that would likely get you jumped in general population, like child abuse/molestation and stuff like that. I was the rare exception, because the CO was convinced I was going to eventually rip this tiny piece of metal out and ‘use it as a weapon.’ The whole thing was ridiculous.
So this is my first time in jail and I’m pretty terrified. I’m a very tiny, very white girl. The jail was in a very urban area, and I was one of the only white people in there. Whatever, it’s cool though I’m not too worried about it. Then they take me back to my cell. My cellie is a 300lb black chick, who proceeds to tell me that her name is Sherry and ‘she don’t fuck with white meat.’ I didn’t even know what to make of it. So I mind my own business, go and lay down on my top bunk and settle in for the long haul.
Well a few days go by and Sherry and I say little to nothing to each other. But this jail was overcrowded, so one day they come and open our cell and throw a cot down on the floor and bring this other black chick in there with us. This new girl tells me her name is Lakeesha (I have no clue how to even spell that.) And when she asks me my name, Sherry tells her ‘not to talk to the white meat.’ Her and Sherry know each other from the outside, and start talking about why they were there.
So Sherry and Lakeesha start talking about why they were in, and Sherry starts claiming that she’d been set up by the police for killing her own daughter. Like her daughter was stabbed around 20 times but ‘the police did it.’ At this point I realize Sherry is very likely a brutal murderer, and she refers to me as ‘meat.’ Lakeesha eventually gets put back in general population, and I go back to cowering in the top bunk and trying to never make eye contact with Sherry.
This is kind of anticlimactic, but eventually I get out and Sherry stays in. But living in a 5×10 room with someone who very likely is unhinged and a maniacal murderer, who is about 200lbs bigger than you and refers to you as ‘white meat’ for over a month was the most terrifying thing I encountered while I was there.
Oh, and one chick tried to trade me a Snickers bar to fool around with her in the showers and was pretty persistent about it until a CO showed up. That was pretty creepy too, but Sherry takes the cake for the scariest part of the experience.”
18. He kicked him in the head until it looked like the outside of a bruised watermelon.
“Spent 6 months in Juarez for stealing car stereos with my uncle. Me in this super obese guy shared a cell let’s call him Pepe. I think he got caught stealing copper lines or something like that. we would chill together most of the time I was kinda young and scared and he seemed trustable. This one day I remember it being quite hot so I was chilling with my shirt over my shoulder you know just walking around. That’s when this guy not even 5ft I want to say 4’11” (almost a midget tbh) came up to Pepe and asked him about his kid and how was the family I knew something was up Pepe was intimidated by a midget (Pepe was about 5’9) all I remember is this little guy stretching his arm toward me and grabbing my shirt he said ‘andale vamos de aqui’ which means something along the lines of ‘get out of here’ honestly I knew something was going to happen to I just started walking away when I heard a rumble. All I see is little guy choking the shirt out of Pepe from the back with my shirt. Pepe just grabbed him, threw him on the floor, poked his eyes, and kicked him in the head until it looked like the outside of a bruised watermelon. Pepe looked so fucking vicious like he enjoyed it for a minute there. Then the guards showed up and beat the shit out of him. I remember I never saw him after that. That same night I got a new cellmate a young kid that beat and stole from his mom. Besides that he was pretty cool. I spent two months in there and then was moved to a smaller facility to do the rest.”
19. Officers would pick cells at random and just beat the shit out of whoever who was unlucky enough to be in there.
“An officer was attacked and killed by an inmate. Every night, for weeks, 3rd shift would come on and a half dozen officers would pick cells at random and just beat the shit out of whoever who was unlucky enough to be in there. Imagine sitting in the dark, hearing a grown man just 100 feet away screaming in pain and agony. Did I mention the CO’s were laughing in between blows?”
20. For two days he just sat naked on the floor rocking back and forth with a blanket thrown over him.
“While I was being processed one of the ‘guests’ was screaming nonstop about suing everyone and making the cops his bitch. He was still very under the influence. All the cops were generally laughing about it until one decided that it needed to stop so they all suited up and went in to shut him up. They were more jacked than any HS football team I’ve ever seen. Off they went and about 3 minutes later—silence. Walked me by his cell on the way to my new room and he was just sitting there buck-ass naked. Few hours go by and he decides to kill himself by drowning in the toilet. This will never work. Well, in go about eight cops in full gear. I would think eight professional guards could move one guy but they decided to taser him several times while his head is in a metal toilet and water. For two days he just sat naked on the floor rocking back and forth with a blanket thrown over him. Then he just disappeared.”
21. I really thought I would wake up dead.
“I truly thought I was going to die, after Mo-rilla and Go-rilla convinced me to stand up for myself after my lunch was stolen. When I told the guards, they immediately locked down our entire block and took our TV and canceled our ‘common time’ for a few days. I really thought I would wake up dead.”
22. Just really unintelligent people with nothing of value to say except to talk themselves up or put other people down.
“Jail fucking sucks. The best way I can describe it is, you know when you head out to the bar after a long week at work to relax with your buddies or your girlfriend, and there’s always that one guy at the bar who doesn’t even seem like he came with friends? Sometimes he’s like a good 15 years older than you, like he should definitely know better. He’s loud and obnoxious, he’s trying to fight everyone that looks at him, he’s rude to every woman who walks in, whistles at them or catcalls them, and he wants to make sure that everyone there knows that he’s a tough guy, even though you couldn’t care less about this dude, he’s gotta one-up everyone’s stories, etc.? Well that’s the kind of guy who gets arrested, so put about 50 of those guys in the same small dorm, and now take away all their stuff. Just really unintelligent people with nothing of value to say except to talk themselves up or put other people down. And it’s not even just that it’s a bunch of criminals, ’cause there’s criminals everywhere and some are good people, but it’s that they are the dumbest of the criminals because they got caught! And you want to tell yourself, ‘wow I’m glad I’m not like these people,’ and then you realize you are, because there you are locked up with them wearing the same underwear sleeping on the same shitty mattress eating the same garbage food.”
23. Standing in handcuffs and shackles while a court of men who didn’t know me decided what to do with me for a crime I didn’t commit.
“Standing in handcuffs and shackles while a court of men who didn’t know me decided what to do with me for a crime I didn’t commit….It was straightened out after a year. Basically I was at the wrong place wrong time and they had to sort that out. I’m good now for the most part, except when you Google me some pretty incriminating articles come up that are no longer accurate because I was found innocent and I haven’t been able to get them taken down successfully.”
24. The COs caught the black guy raping the gay guy in the showers.
“I was in Rikers Island (NY), and this black guy was messing with this gay Hispanic guy. The next day the COs caught the black guy raping the gay guy in the showers.”
25. Her skull was just slipping off, one side was cracked with half her face inches lower than the rest.
“I did some time in a woman’s prison, of which I’ve heard from others that it can be worse than the men’s due to not having any kind of work release and also hormones, including the entire prison getting their monthly visitors all at once.
I saw lots of fucked up stuff but one ‘fight’ stands out in particular. I put ‘fight’ in quotes because the injured went down in one move and there was no build-up or reaction time.
I was in a Max Security part of the prison because I still had open cases, but mostly in Max was filled with violent psychopaths like murderers, gangbangers, violent assault & battery…then there were the baby killers, the child diddlers, the lady who hid her pregnancy and fed her husband the baby, the chick that did a set-up over Craigslist to cut a baby out of a pregnant buyer to show her bf she miscarried; they wore bright red and would only ever be in out of seg for a day or two because they got into a lot of fights or maybe it meant that they were actually diagnosed mentally ill, but I saw them get attacked while never instigating anything. On my third day there one of them politely asked for some food I wasn’t touching off my tray and it caused a snowstorm. Half my table stands up yelling at her not to talk to me or look at me she starts shuffling back and someone trips her and she gets kicked in the ribs while she’s down. No COs notice or care. I’ve read in some men’s prison AMAs that it’s not as violent as you’d think and that chomo child-abusers mostly just get ignored. Not true in woman’s, these women take so much pride in their motherhood it was ridiculous. They’d spend a majority of the day discussing how they have done and would do anything for their kids (I was young then and still childfree now so I didn’t have to play those games), which I always thought was dumb as they were sitting in prison for more of their kids’ childhoods than they were out for.
Anyway as for the most fucked up thing I saw…well there’s two. The first was the worst fight/attack. My pod gets called down to chow hall along with maybe five others. They open some double doors that normally are locked with a post that runs between them. There’s one girl in the pod in front of us that everyone knows, she has a big mouth and is always aggressive. She was toward the back near us and then starts skipping up ahead, she’s about to go thru the doors and as she’s skipping launches herself forward with her two hands cupped together in front of her and SLAMS another girl in her pod’s FACE into the post in between the door with all her strength. Her skull was just slipping off, one side was cracked with half her face inches lower than the rest. She was trying to instinctively hold her face together while at the same time being in shock, nursing took forever and we all had to squat where we stood until everyone involved left.”
26. I spent the night listening to the dude in the bunk above me shake violently from some kind of withdrawal for hours and hours on end.
“Uhh. At tent city Arizona I spent the night listening to the dude in the bunk above me shake violently from some kind of withdrawal for hours and hours on end throughout the night. For what it’s worth, I think that guy’s scariest memory of prison was worse than mine.”
27. You break the law, and you’ll get sent to a cold, unforgiving, and merciless place where death will be a mercy for some.
“I was brought to county, they had me up against a wall. I took off my belt, they removed everything from my pockets, but they didn’t check my ass or mouth for anything. I ended up in a cell with 9 other guys, a few of which were drug addicts, I could tell from the marks on their arms. Most of them were career criminals, I could tell that from what they were telling each other. All of them were trying to sound and act tough.
I was then processed. Photographed, had my fingerprints, and palms recorded. I was then taken with a few of the guys from my shared cell to a separate room where they gave us clothes and told us to strip. We changed and moved on to a block where there were open beds and tables.
I remember it being fucking freezing in there. Multiple guys sized me up and checked me out. I was in there for only 3 days, and I lost count how many times someone tried to mess with me or steal from me. People watched TV or played cards. The whole time in there, we were all treated equally like rabid animals, or sometimes objects.
Not once did I get sympathy, nor any form of humanity from any of the guards or prisoners. In and out, that is their job. Get you in, hold you for however long, and get you out. Either to society, or to prison.
In those three days, I was with a mass murderer, and didn’t even know it. I found out when we went to see the judge for ruling. He had killed 12 people in the last six months, and brutally raped an elderly woman.
The fact that this terrorized me, and it wasn’t even the big house, is what will keep me on the right side of the law. There’s no rehabilitation of any kind in the U.S. ‘justice’ system. It is fear, pure and simple, that keeps people on the right side of the law. Not a teaching of morality, nor of emotions. Straight simple fear.
You break the law, and you’ll get sent to a cold, unforgiving, and merciless place where death will be a mercy for some.”
28. It was terrifying because I’ve never felt so scared of a lot of things…and there’s no one I could tell. I was truly alone.
“The isolation. Not just the hole. I mean, yeah, that was shit, too. But the isolated feeling that followed me the entire three years, six months, nineteen days of my bit. It followed me out, as well.
I was sentenced in Indiana, but was sent to a corporately owned facility in Kentucky. The drive for any family was a minimum of 8-9 hours. So I never saw them. Friends just kind of…evaporated. Understandable…but so lonely. It was terrifying because I’ve never felt so scared of a lot of things…and there’s no one I could tell. I was truly alone. No one I could talk to about it. What you gonna do, tell your cellie? Haha.
I’ve been out for 12 years now. Never had any more trouble. Most people I work with have no idea I have that dark past…but it’s there.”
29. Having to be alone with just your thoughts for a majority of the day.
“Having to be alone with just your thoughts for a majority of the day. Much like everyone else in jail, my thoughts are negative and self-destructive, and being alone with them for extended periods of time does more harm than good.
If you show signs of harming yourself, they take more of your rights away (blankets, sleeping pads, toilet paper). That only leads to more destructive thoughts.
Then when you get out they make you walk three miles to the impound where they hold your car for ransom even though they could have just left it in the parking lot where they arrested you (right next to the station).
The scary part to me is that this shit is legal. If I pulled someone out of their car, kidnapped them, took away everything they own, yelled at them, threatened them if they possessed any more plant matter, took their car and held it for ransom, then I would probably be considered a very dangerous person. Yet police do this on a daily basis. Think about that and how scary it is that people actually support this criminal activity.”
30. You’re a body, that’s it.
“Never had a problem with the other inmates, just the authority.
They do what they want, and you gotta take it, unless you’re dumb and wanna make your stay worse.
This was just in county; the authority does not give a shit. You’re a body, that’s it.”