I’m in the Hobby Unit in Texas and my view on things is crazy but very realistic. It’s like someone picked a bunch of convicts from different walks of life and said we’re going to place them here. They just brought the streets inside.

I hear many women say this is a vacation. No responsibilities. A “pit stop” in their criminal life. I’ve heard women say prison has preserved their bodies. Women who are 40- or 50-something look like they are in their mid twenties. I’ve heard women say prison has either saved their life or someone else’s – a life they had once planned to take. Some women believe it was divine intervention from God, all part of his plan.

I’ve been in prison 2 ½ years now and I think I’ve learned more criminal skills than I had when I first walked through intake. Survival is a big thing in prison. It’s crazy but astonishing how some women survive.

Some of us get money from family and friends. Some from strangers we meet on websites developed for prisoners. I look at these ads run in the prison newsletter – the pages of individuals and businesses that sell sexy photos of women that prison women in turn use and refer to as tricks. People whom they write erotic letters to and send provocative pictures. I ask myself, is this the Texas prison system trying to pimp us out? Do they have us on some secret escort service? Are these things run by the government or by individuals who are also criminals trying to make a dollar? Or by pimps looking for potential hoes? Or is this some kind of set up to slap a new charge on us? Or is the state so cheap that they allow this as a means for us to get out there and take care of ourselves so they don’t have to come out of pocket and do it?

I see women selling make-up that can be bought on commissary for a $1.40 and they turn around and sell it for $5.40. Women buy a pack of cookies and a candy bar that cost them maybe $2.50 and they make cookie patties and turn around and sell maybe 10 of them at three stamps at piece. They make like $12.00.

I have learned to take nothing like a map pencil and 30 cent pen and flip it for some eye shadow and turn around and flip the eye shadow for five dollars in flags. These women have many ways of hustling such as doing hair and charging $3 a head, putting money on people’s book and commissary to get extra shit. People pay people to go to medical to get whatever it is they need or want. They drop forms to medical, law library, dental, religious classes so they can meet their woman or handle business.

They pay SSI or troublemakers who just don’t care to make stuff. They make jewelry, make-up, clothes, sexy panties and bras that are dyed bright colors. They make wife beaters for the studs and boy shorts for the hoochies. And it’s crazy because all this contraband and these things are available to us, if not we make it available through visitation.

Or crooked laws. Yes we have those here. Men and women who mess with the inmates. We have laws that are so crooked and ghetto that they’ll get out there and throw down with the inmate. There are no cameras on Hobby so everything goes. People get caught up. So you won’t sell razors on commissary but you hand them out once a month and don’t even do a trade off?

We are constantly wrapped up due to the shortage of staff. It’s like payday and holiday. Everyone parties and no one comes to work. What do you expect when all you hire are people from the streets who are young, ghetto and irresponsible individuals?

There are so many ways we are manipulated and abused but in the same way there are so many more ways we abuse and manipulate the system. Women gamble, they have their families send magazines for perfume samples they either wear themselves or sell at a flag a piece. You have your commissary hoes, you got your pimp who shares their own women with their partners. You got your gamblers, hustlers, cons who wash laundry in the toilet and slap them on the wall to air dry or those who got money and are too lazy to do it for themselves so they pay others to do it. You got your salons that hired strippers for birthdays and holidays, personal tailors, the list goes on and on.

It’s like I’m at home minus my family and drugs and alcohol but I’m sure they got that in here too. Most of the officers come high or drunk themselves. Any and everything for the American dollar. We walk around with homemade purses or wallets loaded with stacks of flags that we use as money.

A lot of these women are getting wiser in the criminal world and making future plans to get out and recommit. They abuse the education system to get out of the hoe squad, some women even break fingers and sprain ankles. Rec is a big orgy, an all you can eat buffet. Women have sexual relations with their partners in broad daylight, in wide-open spaces while sitting next to a woman reading a Bible. Wash off, that’s what’s street whores do. Me? I’m lucky I got a good roommate who doesn’t have a psycho woman. She’s young but has an old soul. We’re different but she’s also very criminally minded so really how lucky am I? Prison is prison. We inmates shape and form it. The laws try to intervene and maintain it but it depends on the person, situation or surroundings and how they choose to adapt to prison. Point blank. It is what it is.

I’ve got two options. I can do my time, learn something and make a change or I can develop new criminal skills and continue to shift through the revolving prison doors.


Amber Massey has been released.