A Prisoner Writes: Schizophrenic Religiosity

By: TY EVANS, Contributing Writer Courtesy Ty Evans Jeffery Hofstedter was our prime example of schizophrenia augmented by religiosity. White, late thirties, anorexically thin, he balanced a supersize pair of bifocal chominators to laboriously read his Bible aloud, one disconnected word at a time. He had been booted out of pre-GED class enough times that they didn't want [...]

A Drug Dealer’s Simple Solution to Ending Our Nation’s Drug Epidemic

Users use whatever is available, and all price does is move them from one drug to another. “White people are starting to figure that out,” added Edgar Lee. “When they can’t get their Oxycontin they move to heroin.

Chain-Gang Mating Rituals

By: Charles Norman, Contributing Writer Courtesy of Charles Norman Big Willie Taylor came to my cell one evening after supper with a question. I knew it was a question because he never came to my cell unless he had a question that stumped him. If you knew Big Willie, a massive prisoner with a balding,  pumpkin-shaped head, one bloodshot blue [...]

STAND-UP CONVICTS—“THE HIDDEN NOBILITY”: Old Convicts Versus “The New Convict Code”

By: Charles Norman, Contributing Writer Courtesy of Charles Norman Tex McClain had nothing but his word. Old and sick, having outlived anyone in society who might help him, he had to live by his wits to earn coffee and cigarettes. Old Tex’s word was good. If he told you a certain prisoner was a bad credit risk and wouldn’t pay [...]

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A Lifer Makes a No-Bake Sweet for Another Lifer’s Birthday

The Number By Edward Ji I am prepared to die: My name is Edward Mike Ji, now age seventeen, newly minted adult duly dubbed and declared so by Collin County Juvenile Court, inmate number 207989, and death cannot come swiftly enough. I lay in this foul cell–lay in vegetative rot, a spiritual-mental-physical malaise–the whitewashed walls a creeping yellow, as if [...]

My DIY Rehabilitation in Prison

One day I finally said to myself – “you killed someone” – a young man’s life is gone. And I wondered how my mother would feel if it had been me who had been killed. I began thinking about my victim’s mother.

Warning: Borrow A Cup Of Coffee and You Could Become Someone’s Sex Slave

BY TRACY LEE KENDALL Courtesy of Tracy Lee Kendall Everyone in prison is ready to help in some way or another, but the word “help” has a very fluid definition. It can mean to do something to assist, but also to extort or rape or kill. It can mean a lot of things depending upon the nature of [...]

What Is It Like To Get Life in Prison?

I spent the first few years of my natural life sentence muttering incoherently to myself and chewing my fingernails to bleeding nubs while I contemplated the most painless methods of suicide for American prisoners. How’s a 23-year old kid supposed to process having to spend the rest of his life in a cage? He doesn’t. How does anyone at any age make sense of a future of captivity? He can’t.

Is Prison The Right Place for Zach?

Getting a visit can almost be harder than not ever setting any at all. The pain of seeing them walk away, for what can seem like forever, or the feeling of being nothing more than a burden or a pity, can be more painful than the high that seeing the person brings.

Former Cop, Now Inmate, Says Mentally Ill In Prison Are Abused

By: Edwin Garcia, Contributing Writer It is no secret that the state has used the Prison system as a dumping ground for the mentally ill. Common sense would lead an observer to conclude that an environment as degenerative as prison is not the best location to place a person who is suffering from mental illness. Yet the people who run our [...]

Institutionalized Racism in Prison

By: Arthur Longworth, Contributing Writer In prison, it's not necessary for you to be a racist in order for you to act like one, to live within the confines of a strict racial divide, to discriminate. These are things you have to do in here, because the race barriers are institutionalized, embedded so deeply into the way the prison is managed, [...]

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 [...]

Bonding In A Native American Sweat Lodge — in Prison!?

By: Mustafa Zulu, Contributing Writer Mustafa, the author (L) and "Looking Back" (R) in front of a prison backdrop. "Looking Back" is the name of my Native American comrade I met when I first arrived to North Dakota state penitentiary a few months ago. He's about 5'8, bronze complexion, with a traditional Indian ponytail-braid hanging down to his [...]

Party-Boy Has His Best Birthday on Death Row

By: Charles Manou, Contributing Writer I turned forty recently. (Please hold the applause.) Never in a billion years would I have ever envisioned that I would hit the big 4-0 on death row. Courtesy of Charles Mamou When I was free, I was known for having grandiose and extravagant parties to celebrate my birthday. Everything was free, i.e. food [...]

I Was Born With Heroin, Meth, LSD and Alcohol In My System

By: Valerie Baker, Contributing Writer If you’re standing up, you might want to take a seat! Because I truly believe my story has the potential to blow your mind!  (J/K LOL.) At least I think it’s that interesting. Anyway, especially if you’re the “average joe” type of person. Both of my parents were heroin addicted “hippies.” On April 11, 1983 [...]

My Rehabilitation: The Pen Beats The Sword

As we know, I am currently in prison, which I have learned does one of two significant things to its occupants: brings the best out of them, or the worst...

The Convict Code of Conduct — From a True Convict

By DANIEL H. HARRIS Many claim the title of "Convict," but few live up to the Convict Code of Conduct. Convicts are not made, they are born a breed apart. A true convict is incapable of snitching. No convict is ever a bully. The convict's word is more binding than any contract. It is a convict's nature to seek out [...]

How The State Of Indiana Killed Michael Daniels

BY TY EVANS On September 14, 1979, Michael William Daniels’ sentencing order directed that he be executed “in a manner prescribed by law, before sunrise on March 28, 1980.” Within an hour he was triple-shackled and in a van on his way to death row at Michigan City, Indiana. He was 21 years old. He had 196 days left to [...]

Life Behind Bars As A Convicted Sex Offender

By: Cougar Newquist, Contributing Writer In prison, there are a lot of vulnerable people. Many of them probably should not be in a prison setting. It's been estimated that at least 30% of those who are incarcerated have some sort of mental or emotional disability. I suspect the figures are a lot higher. But, in many states, including the one [...]

How One Prisoner’s Girlfriend Starts Trouble Between Rival Prison Gangs

BY SAUL MARTINEZ Deception and propaganda is an every day theme in prison life. Some utilize it to disguise their fears and insecurities, to create a façade of fearlessness in order to keep the wolves reconsidering their initial intentions or to brainwash a mass of individuals with a persuasive lie. Elmira Correctional Facility, New York State, January 2009:  My cell [...]

Sleep on Death Row

BY LYLE MAY The sound echoed around the cell block, crashing against the concrete wall with the force of each angry blow. A few guys yelled out, “Hey man, why the noise?" I say the blows were angry because there's no other way to describe somebody mule-kicking a steel door with everything they have. All of the frenzied emotion generated [...]

What Can Be Done With A Prisoner Like Maurice Smith?

BY JASON WALKER From the first day I stepped foot in a jail cell, I immediately got a good taste of what it's liked to be housed around the mentally ill. These prisoners are nothing like your average prisoner, starting with how they live and smell. While it’s common to walk past a mentally ill prisoner's cell and see him [...]

One Prisoner’s Fight To Beat The “Thorazine Shuffle”

BY TY EVANS COURTESY Ty Evans Scottie McLean still remembers the exact words the Wabash Valley yard officer said that made him go off, back in 1994: “Give me the bandanna, and quit acting like a bitch.” Twenty years old, and with a fresh 190-year sentence, Scottie McLean wasn’t going to let anyone call him a bitch, especially [...]

Only In Prison: Silencing The Sound of Stabbing

BY TY EVANS If you woke in the middle of the night and heard your neighbor being robbed, you could hear that he was about to be stabbed, and anticipated that he would soon be screaming... would you put in earplugs and roil back to sleep? That’s what I did one night last month. It’s the screaming that’s the unnerving [...]

A Letter To Young Fathers In Prison, From A Long-term Inmate

BY JOHN GRIFFIN I would like to share with you, especially those of you who are younger than I am, why my children are so important to me. I am not proud to say that I have been incarcerated now for over 39 years. But I feel blessed, and I am very thankful that I have had the opportunity to [...]

Prison Nicknames

BY KENNETH KYLE Prison Nicknames. Some people have them and some don't. I fit into the latter group. Here are some of the nicknames I’ve encountered during my 14+ years of incarceration. There are the ubiquitous ones - Stretch, Preacher, Shorty, Lucky, Cowboy, Solo, Fats, Junior, Nephew, Deuce, and Viking. Sniper's a little guy, five foot nothing, 100 lbs. wet if [...]

The Raw Truth About Living Around Mentally Ill Prisoners

BY DANIEL HARRIS, Contributing Writer Where did they expect psychiatric patients to end up when they cut Federal Funding for mental health beds? Whatever they thought, I know where they are. Here, in prison, with me. I've had two certifiably insane cellies. My cell is 5'x 8' feet. Imagine living in your bathroom with any of the crazies you've seen on [...]

Dying Prisoners Deserve Dignity

BY LARRY BRATT Over the past 18 months, twenty-three incarcerated men died at the Jessup Regional Hospital (JRH), according to an unnamed staffer at JRH. The youngest was in his mid-fifties. The oldest was 69. Official causes of death ranged from various cancers, heart, liver and renal diseases, hepatitis, and wear and tear on the body from decades of alcohol [...]

How My College-Educated Cellmate Changed My Life

BY RICHARD TAYLOR Only the strong survive. Those were the words I was told in 1999 when I was sentenced to 20 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. I was only 17 years old, charged with 5 counts of aggravated robbery. So I made up my mind that I would not take no disrespect from nobody once I [...]

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