30 Ex-Convicts Recall Their Most Terrifying Prison Experience

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.”



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