Pepper Spray in Prisons by Jason Walker In Texas Prisons, guards are notorious for beating, killing, and harassing prisoners. They also set up prisoners to be attacked by other prisoners while handcuffed from behind, and they’re even known to assist prisoners in committing suicide, even when the prisoner has no intentions of doing such thing. These cruel practices are so common in solitary confinement, and the grievance system is so inadequate, that many prisoners don’t bother to file complaints against staff. But when prison […]

Prison Guards Gas Prisoners for Fun

Sheldon Johnson

BY SHELDON PRESTON JOHNSON 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. In some cases it’s a combination of both, but usually it’s one extreme or the other. In 2001, I was involved in a riot at the Green Haven Correctional facility. After a mock trial before a Kangaroo Disciplinary Officer, I was given 36 months in SHU (Special Housing Unit), […]

My Rehabilitation: The Pen Beats The Sword

Kids Become Criminals In Juvenile Detention (2)

By Paul Gardner We live in a world where a husband could pick up his wife from a dentist appointment on his lunch break, drop her off at home, and get pulled over speeding back to work. While being written a ticket by the police officer, the cop notices the wife’s prescription of Percocet left in the center console. “Is that your prescription?” The officer asks. “No, it’s my wife’s. I just brought her home from the dentist. Man, she’s gonna be pissed […]

What Happens In Prison Doesn’t Stay In Prison Anymore

Kids Become Criminals In Juvenile Detention (3)

By Kyle Roberts When I walk through the towers to be processed out and I walk through the final gate, no, my mom won’t be there because I decided to save her a little money by taking the Greyhound. If my mom doesn’t meet me at the station, I will only have to walk four blocks to my house. Yes, this is the long way home. Nevertheless… I am sure my new world will be welcomed with warm hugs and kisses. But when […]

I’m Coming Home, Mom! (But Is He Ready?)

Courtesy, Paul Gardner

By Paul Gardner I’d like to take a moment to shine a little light on an English sub-dialect, “Prison Talk.” This form of English is one-part slang, one-part 1940’s gumshoe detective jargon, and one-part ridiculous degradation of English itself. To hear many of the phrases spoken on their own by anyone besides a person who has become accustomed to them would most likely sound completely confusing or hilarious. So I am going to attempt to run a dialogue between two inmates as well […]

Prison Talk 101

Sheldon Johnson

By Sheldon Preston Johnson I was born in Harlem, New York City, thirty-nine years ago. I can say that I started out as a thrill-seeking, adventurous and curious child. The story of my childhood is  not your usual one, yet, like any other it’s filled with both triumph and tragedy. And like anyone else, there are so many, many things I would have done differently if given the opportunity. Nonetheless, there are the rarest of moments that I would not trade for all […]

Kids Become Criminals In Juvenile Detention

Charles Norman

38 Years Is Enough Already BY CHARLES NORMAN April 5, 2016 On this date in 1978, 38 years ago, I woke up at 6:30 a.m. in freedom for the last time. 13,880 days later, I have so far survived this unjust life sentence for a murder someone else committed in 1975. “No one said the world was fair,” a prison guard said to me recently. Corrupt prosecutor, Mark Ober, was quoted as saying, “Norman will never survive a life sentence.” That was said […]

Free Charlie Norman Now

Courtesy of Brad Simpson

We Want Something Valuable To Do With Our Free Time By Brad “Lou” Simpson The one thing nobody knows about prison is that it can be fun. SAY WHAT?? I know you weren’t expecting that, but it’s true. Now I don’t mean fun like a day at the water park, but more like an adults-only obstacle course type fun. If that makes any sense. Let me see if I can help you visualize what I mean. Jobs in prison are sometimes hard […]

The One Thing Nobody Knows About Prison

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BY John Paul Minarik Back in the 70s and 80s at Western Penitentiary, one of the oldest prisons in the world, the Shawshank Redemption was real; the prisons literally looked the same. I am a real life Andy Dufresne, only I never even tried to escape. I have been in prison for 45 years. I am an innocent man but that is the subject of other writings. Yes, I did a lot of income tax work for guards at Western Penitentiary. Our “Red” […]

A Real-life Andy Dufresne

Mama Herc 1985

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 in those jail cells to make it any scarier was crackling campfires and hooting owls. “When you get to prison, boys,” […]

Fighting the Ninja: Sex in Prisons


BY J.S. SLAYMAKER, Contributing Writer Over the past twenty-two years I have had both the privilege and the burden to play witness to some righteously weird shit: guys cutting off fingers or breaking bones in order to avoid doing field work; having otherwise healthy teeth pulled for the Vikes [Vicodin pills]; and more recently, dudes keistering entire cell phones rather than simply deep-sixing them. (I feel like if a brother will go so far as to jam a whole phone up his […]

Penile Implants in Prison Cost About $40

Troy David2

BY TROY W. DAVID On October 31, 1984, Halloween Night at 7:00 pm, gunshots rained on the streets of the middle-class neighborhood of Mount Airy in Philadelphia, PA. I was just 17 years old at the time. My mom worked as an Executive Secretary and my dad drove a truck. I had recently taken pictures for my high school graduation and yearbook. Christine, my sister, and I liked school. I was on the school track team. Outside of school, I held a part-time […]

My Crime: How One Huge Mistake Sent Me To Prison ...

David Valdez

The Least Likely Prisoners to Recidivate? Lifers (yes, Murderers) on Parole BY DAVID VALDEZ, Contributing Writer Before 1977, ALL California prisoners were sentenced to Indeterminate sentences, [or Life on Parole: a term that included “imprisonment for life” (i.e. five years to life for armed robbery). After serving a certain amount of time, a prisoner had to appear in front of a parole board in order to earn their release date. The parole board required inmates to participate in programs and accomplish a set […]

The Case For Releasing Lifers On Parole

Amy P2

BY AMY PREASMYER 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 me wrong. I was in possession of 40 grams of narcotics resulting in a rule violation, as well as a felony act, allowing them […]

Remember Amy Preasmyer? She Writes Us From Solitary.

kevin boyd kid

His Mom Kills His Dad and He Gets Life Without Parole BY KEVIN MICHAEL BOYD Today I look out the window of my cell, a little bitter, a little more realistic. As time passes through my life, I rarely see the changes. They blur into blocks made up of years and even decades doing the same things over and over again. The mirror tells me I’ve aged. The lines, the grey, the male pattern thinning. When we are done and we look back […]

Juvenile Lifer: 17-Year Old Kevin Boyd On Life Without ...

shadowy figure

BY THOMAS GUERRA The story of my life in prison started in November of 2010.  I came to prison for the first time in my entire life.  When I first got to prison I was scared to death that I would never make it out prison alive.  The first two weeks that I was in prison went pretty good.  Then at the beginning of my third week I had two SUR13’s [members of the Surenos gang] force me to have sex with them.  […]

I Was Repeatedly Raped In Prison


BY VALERIE BAKER 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 I was born. My small infant body was withdrawing from heroin. I was a drug baby! My system that day tested positive for every drug […]

I Was Born With Heroin, Meth, LSD and Alcohol In ...

Jason Walker

BY JASON WALKER, Contributing Writer After spending over five years in solitary confinement, I have finally come to realize that solitary confinement is known torture — and the prisoners aren’t the only ones who know this. There have been extensive studies that have shown that lengthy periods of isolation can cause a number of mental and psychological setbacks. In a report concerning CIA torture, expert of sensory deprivation, Dr. Albert Biderman, reported: “the effect of isolation on the brain function of the prisoner […]

Wake Up America, The Facts Are In: Solitary IS ...

Frederick Paine

BY FREDERICK PAINE When I sat on death row for 20 years my favorite game to play was the “what if…?” This is an exercise that most people engage in, but none more so than prisoners. No inmate feels like they belong in prison. I’m not talking about a question of innocence or guilt but rather the stark reality that I had done something so wrong that the consequences of it took away my freedom, my family, and my dreams. I was captain […]

Frederick Paine: “What If… I Hadn’t Shot The Cab Driver ...

Dorothy Maraglino

BY DOROTHY MARAGLINO ON SENTENCING: Although I’ve been here 940 days, I have not had a trial yet. For two years, the D.A and the defense attorneys have been discussing penalty options. It turns out you can’t go to trial before the DA has determined what penalty to ask for, should they actually win the case. For now they are debating if they should elect to choose the death penalty, as a possible sentence, in case of a hypothetical guilty verdict of a […]

Dorothy Maraglino on Prison: Part 1

Lucas Morgan - Version 2

BY LUCAS MORGAN, Contributing Writer Have you ever been screaming inside with a story that you just had to get out? I feel like I will burst if I don’t tell you about the time I forgot I was locked up in prison. Kind of like when you were in high school and you finally got to kiss the hot girl or boy you’d been dreaming about. You just had to tell your best friend. That’s how I feel about this. The Jester […]

The Weekend I Forgot I Was In Prison

Sheldon Johnson

BY SHELDON JOHNSON, Contributing Writer In April of 2008, my son was arrested for accidentally killing a Columbia graduate student [Minghui Yu, pictured], while trying to impress a group of shallow friends who taunted, egged and dared him to attack the Asian man. Fast forward, my son eventual plead guilty to his recklessness – ignorance; however, the media had a field day on all the popular news channels, for my son was only 14-years old at the time of the incident. I […]

Father In Prison Steps Up After His 14-year Old Son ...

Antwan Johnson

BY ANTWAN JOHNSON (bio) Getting out for some is overrated. During my time in penitentiary “Getting Out” was always about all the money I was going to make, or the many women I was going to mess with. I speak from personal experience. I’m a repeat offender. This is my 4th time in penitentiary. I’m the “poster child” for getting out of prison.  First time I was 17 years old. I did four years. My 2nd time I was 22 and I did 3 […]

Getting Out of Prison is Overrated


BY CHARLES MAMOU 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. When I was free, I was known for having grandiose and extravagant parties to celebrate my birthday. Everything was free, i.e. food and beverages, while it lasted. Anyone who was somebody within our little bourgeois community would attend. Club owners would petition me to have my parties at their clubs because they […]

Party-Boy Has His Best Birthday on Death Row

drugs in prison

BY DANIEL HARRIS Everyone’s always shocked to learn that so many drugs are available in prison. But why, I always wonder. It would be more surprising if the lure of easy profits didn’t corrupt so many guards to smuggle them in, given how poorly the guards are paid and how easy the money is. In many cases, a prisoner gets one of his connections on the outside to give some drugs to a guard he’s agreed to do business with. A guard will […]

A Prisoner Reveals Secrets About Smuggling Drugs Into Prison

Courtesy, Paul Gardner

BY PAUL GARDNER 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 absolutely no dietary value. So why is our prison food constantly being watered down? The answer is … Money. Now, you may think that it’s as simple as the equation “more water = […]

#1 Ingredient in Prison Food? Water.


BY KENNETH FOSTER 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 is the currency that binds everybody. By stamp I mean our historical postage stamp. Regardless of drugs, contraband, violence, hustling food out of the […]

Stamps As Currency In Prison

Gilbert Paliotta

BY GILBERT PALIOTTA Just read this, okay? What does whatever I, or any other prisoner, have to say matter? We’ve “committed the crime, now do the time.” Yes, I mean that’s what I may be thinking too, if our situations were reversed. That said, I would be absolutely petrified to have you, an ex-felon, probably a violent offender with grievances, living in my neighborhood. Dating my daughter or son. Working in my restaurants. Fixing my car. Think about that for a minute. Every […]

Just Read This. Okay?

Courtesy Ty Evans

BY 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 placement to general population, and Dale assured me I’d soon see plenty of dope here. Not that I cared; but in Dale’s world, dope took center stage. Since […]

A Lesson on Drugs in Prison

Hawk Front-3-4 LEFT-840

Natural Born Killers BY DANIEL H. HARRIS Like many others who find themselves locked in a cage with no way out, he too had a breaking point. The day we met, he reached it — and bloody murder became acceptable. Prison had changed him. The sky was blue and cloudless that cold and frosty morning. It was a beautiful day to be alive and I was lucky enough to be the first one in line for outside recreation. If you’re in Ad-seg [Administrative […]

The Day I Caught A Live Hawk