Future Dreams

By Chris Dankovich I've fallen asleep alone every night of my life. For half my life there's been another person in the room, but that's not the same. While I don’t have anyone lying next to me to keep me warm, I've imagined someone there every single night. My arms around my pillow, fingers weaving between the sheets, I imagine [...]

The Hurricane: Juvenile’s First Day In Prison

By: Chris Dankovich, Contributing Writer First days are sitting in an inflatable life-raft in the ocean while the winds whip around you in a hurricane. Giant waves crash violently around you, and the winds and currents own you. Paddle if it calms the current in your soul, or ride the swell with open arms, because either way there has never [...]


Daniel H. Harris By: Daniel Harris, Contributing Writer Men who publicly masturbate in prison to add spice to their fantasies used to be a rarity. Twenty-four years later, that is no longer the case. Back in the day, it was predominately black prisoners exposing themselves. White and Hispanic gangs refrained because their gangs enforced discipline with its own [...]

They Can’t Break My Spirit

By: Mustafa Zulu, Contributing Writer "In order to reform a criminal you must first break his spirit." - Elam Lynds, warden of Sing Sing prison in New York Last month I was busted with a knife and been here in the hole since. Winter months in North Dakota State Penitentiary (NDSP) are the worse time to be slammed in the hole. [...]

The Wrath of Sling Blade

By: Whitney Smith, Featured Writer Early this morning, just before breakfast, I was jarred awake by the yells of an eerily familiar voice. It was the grainy, guttural bark which will be forever burned into my memory. "Sir... Excuse me, sir! My name is Glutton Nickerson! I need a towel, sir!" Sling Blade was back. It has been a while [...]

The Gross Things Prisoners Do When The Water Is Shut Off

By: Daniel H. Harris, Contributing Writer Eastham is an old prison with a slowly decaying network of pipes to provide water and remove sewage. For one reason or another we are without running water every few months. In the free world this would only be inconvenient. In a prison, well, read on. They do rolling flushes of each line [cell block [...]

I Taught Myself Yoga In Prison – And It Changed My Life

By: Daniel Harris, Contributing Writer Many are intimidated by the expensive trappings of yoga. When you take away all the specialty items, forget the retreats to faraway places, and make do where you are with what  you have, yoga comes alive. Yoga's roots were in a hovel; it has only recently taken to life in palaces. I began my yoga [...]

An Oral History of My Future

By: Whitney Smith, Featured Writer Not long ago I finished reading "The Story of Joe Gould." The Story of Joe Gould as told by Joseph Mitchell, a columnist and staff writer at The New Yorker magazine from the 1930's until the mid-60's. Mr. Joe Gould was quite the enigma. Sometimes monikered "Professor," sometimes "Professor Sea Gull" due to his self-professed [...]

Gizzardology: The Harsh Realities Of Prison Food

By: Whitney Smith, Featured Writer When I was a kid my parents didn't have any trouble getting me to eat my vegetables. Or any of my food, really. Of course, like every other kid, there were a few exceptions. It was a lost cause putting lima beans on my plate. And any type of stroganoff dish required a little coaxing [...]

Welcome To Club Fed: Prison Gangs, Politics, & A Lack Of Basic Necessities

By: Whitney Smith, Featured Writer "So how's Club Fed?" someone once asked me during a phone call home. For those who don't know, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has a reputation of providing plush environments for convicted criminals to serve their debts to society, hence the play on Club Med. How could I explain to the person on the other [...]

When You Grow Up In Prison, Did Your Life Ever Really Begin?

By: Chris Dankovich, Contributing Writer Sometimes, after my roommate has gone to sleep (or has left the room, or when no one is looking), I grab my pillow and hold it tightly, pressing my face against it. I fall asleep with my arm wrapped around it, or with it pressing against my back, pretending that I'm not alone – or at least [...]

Take A Look Inside Prison’s Underground Economy

By: Michael Winsett, Contributing Writer When it comes to the underground economy in prison, you have to live inside here to understand it. For example, inmates use “postage stamps” as poker chips. At the end of the night, you can keep the postage stamps or cash out the postage stamps for other items. Then there’s those inmates who run “inmate [...]

I Count Four Social Classes in Prison

By: Paul Gardner, Contributing Writer Inmates, just like people in free-society, are divided into social classes. After years of incarceration in Arizona, I’ve noticed four distinct social classes of prisoners: The Indigent-but-Content The Beggars The Hustlers The Supported Two things work in unison to determine which social class a prisoner belongs to: his access to money from the outside and [...]

Remember Amy Preasmyer? She Writes Us From Solitary

By: Amy Preasmyer, Contributing Writer I am once again faced with the abusive conditions in which Ad-Seg [Administrative Segregation, a form of solitary] has a legacy. It’s a place where protocols are swept under the rug and CDCR’s [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] performances are clearly inhumane and ineffective, evidenced by the increase in serious rule violation reports (115s). Don’t get [...]

In Prison, Stamps Are The Currency That Binds Everybody

By: Kenneth Foster, Contributing Writer Prison is simply a reflection of the greater society. Whatever is happening on the street block is happening on the cell block. Capitalism is mimicked. There’s upper-class, middle-class and lower-class. Yes. There are prisoners with and there are prisoners without. There are prisoners that have a little something, but not a whole lot. And the stamp [...]

Dorothy Maraglino on Prison: Part 2

By: Dorothy Maraglino, Contributing Writer  Don't miss Dorothy's "An Unusual Take on Prison Life: Part 1." ON MEDICAL CARE: Our doctors look like Doogie Howser and approach patients like a short order cook does breakfast. It’s easy to believe we’re part of some unknown experiment. I often have visions of us all being like Jeff Goldblum in “The Fly” -- [...]

Juveniles Tried As Adults: Becoming A Man In Prison

By: Chris Dankovich, Contributing Writer My first visitor in prison was my dad. Looking back at the picture I have from that day, I realize that I must have smelled just awful. It was my second day in at Thumb Correctional Facility's Youthful Side, Michigan's prison for adults ages 13-18, having just arrived from the state's prison intake and processing facility. [...]

Fighting the Ninja: Sex in Prisons

By: Charles Norman, Contributing Writer Mama Herc was a genuine prison legend, infamous beyond his razor wire boundaries. When I was in the county jail for a couple of years, fighting my case through the courts, recidivists would share chain gang horror stories about what would happen to the scared newcocks [new inmates] upon their arrival in prison. All that was missing [...]

What Prisoners Say About Prison, When An Inmate is Asking the Questions

BY TRACY LEE KENDALL, Contributing Writer This prison survey reflects the best and worst of prison life from the perspectives of a variety of prisoners in the largest prison unit in Texas, the H.H. Coffield Unit. This is a maximum security unit and as such, movement is extremely limited as is access to other areas. Getting information from those in [...]

#1 Ingredient in Prison Food? Water.

By Paul Gardner, Contributing Writer BY PAUL GARDNER, Contributing Writer Something smells fishy in the prison kitchen– and it isn’t dinner. The Arizona Department of Corrections uses an outsourced personnel provider to run their kitchens. Here is how it works: Aside from the obvious fact that water is needed throughout the day to hydrate the body, it has [...]

A Lesson on Drugs in Prison

BY TY EVANS Courtesy Ty Evans “Dope is how I do my time," Dale explained, after asking me about the availability of drugs in prisons I'd that he might be transferred. We were in a transfer unit at Michigan City -- he was pending transfer out to New Castle, me newly arrived from Pendleton. I was waiting for [...]

Prison Tips From a Pro

BY DANIEL HARRIS, Contributing Writer My 25 years of experience doing time in prison make me an expert at avoiding the pitfalls of prison. All prisons are different, but many of the rules of conduct stay the same. Simple common sense will save you most of the time. Here are 10 Prison Tips for New Prisoners: 1. Hygiene should be [...]

Death Row : My First and Last Visitor of The Year

BY PAUL ANTHONY BROWN, Contributing Writer Courtesy of Paul Brown The visit is today. I’m so excited. I’ve been looking forward to it for months. I’m showered and freshly scrubbed. I dress in my cleanest, brightest state issue clothing. I brush my teeth. It is my first and possibly only visit I’ll get this year, as I have [...]

F*** Solitary Confinement

BY SHAVEZ HOLDEN Courtesy of Shavez Holden The hole, the new term for solitary confinement. It’s the place they take you when you break one of their “rules,” or at least they say you did. It’s supposed to be a deterrent from future acts of whatever they deem misconduct to be. The hole is a crazy place. Fuck [...]

Wild Cats in Prison

BY DANIEL HARRIS, Contributing Writer (bio) Having spent more than two decades here in Eastham, a Texas prison, I would have sworn the walls around my heart and emotions were unbreachable. Hardened convict? I thought so, until I found out differently when a grey and black tabby cat came prissing into my life and my walls came tumbling down. Eastham prison [...]

Love Behind Bars: It’s Not For Everyone

BY KENYATTA HUGHES He tells her to leave when the D.A. offers fifteen years as the plea bargain. They're on a visit, at Riker's Island. You can’t take this, he tells her. It’ll hurt more when you leave later. She gets angry, tells him that he doesn't know what she can take, how strong she is. Whatever it is, she [...]

Why Prisons Aren’t Correcting Anyone

BY KEVIN COCKMAN Prisons are not built, designed or run with “correcting” in mind. Prisons aren't correcting anyone. These places are put here to destroy hope, break the spirit of individuality, demean, debase, and strip a person of his dignity. Prisons are the world’s incubators of hate and evil. This is the daily battle I have to fight while attempting [...]

How I Earned A “White Flower” in Prison

BY PAUL GARDNER Courtesy, Paul Gardner Here I was, months into a jail sentence that was going to be the beginning of my prison sentence. I had no idea how many years I was going to get in the slammer this time. The fact that I was still in jail after so many months is testimony to the [...]

Only In Prison: I Watched A Prisoner Catch a Seagull And Later Eat It

BY JOSE VILLARREAL Courtesy of Jose Villarreal I don't think that anyone believes U.S. prisons will ever serve quality meals, certainly prisoners are not holding their breath. I have come across many prisoners who’ve become ill from food poisoning over the years. Likewise, prisoners have become rather resourceful in finding ways to scrape up something edible and find [...]

My Secret to Passing Time In Prison

BY DOROTHY MARAGLINO There are days when passing time in prison becomes nearly unbearable. Each second passes with excruciating slowness. As time ticks by, it almost can be heard like a slow faucet leak. Drip, drip, drip… No task you attempt takes long enough. The gaps of emptiness begin to fuel the restlessness inside. The skin on your body feels [...]

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