Prison Trivia

Those of us who worked in prison, or out on the street managing parole or probation caseloads, know a few things. Things we took for granted as we went about our daily grind. Some things, we try to forget. Others are simply hard to explain. But, having left that world of bars, walls, and wire, I have found that people on the outside are curious as hell about what goes on in “that place.”

1 Building at Folsom Prison–My home for a while

Recently, I went to Bouchercon (the World Mystery Convention) in Toronto. If you’re a reader and haven’t been to one of these huge gatherings to geek out over your favorite authors, you’re missing out. Authors like Lee Child (really approachable, by the way) Michael Connlley, Walter Mosely, Kari Slaughter, Louise Penny, are all found wandering the halls talking with fans. And it’s a great way to meet new writers.

I was lucky enough to get assigned to a couple of speaking events at the most recent conference, and one was a solo bit called, Author 20 on the 20. An author gets 20 minutes to talk about anything they choose. My spot was close to the end of the conference and admittedly, as fun at everything had been to that point, I was just about on panel and interview overload. So, I went another direction with my 20 on the 20 spot. Prison Trivia.

During the 20 on the 20 Session at Bouchercon

I hosted a game of prison trivia and handed out books and chocolate for the correct answers. The trivia questions were all related to my books, At What Cost and Bury the Past. Bury the Past has a particular prison storyline and the trivia hit on some of those points.  People really want to know what goes on inside the walls. They are curious about that other world. And, it was a different way to expose readers to my stuff and hopefully, they’ll connect with the stories.

The audience had to answer questions about Califonia prisons, gangs, contraband and population. They had a great time. Watching someone’s face when they try to respond to “What is a kiester stash?” is priceless. It took them a minute to figure it out and then the realization hit. “They put it in their butt?” Yes–yes they do. Glamourous stuff in prison…

Prison trivia was so much fun that I’ve decided to include a game at my next few appearances (Oh you can find a schedule of appearances here). I’ve included trivia in my newsletter (if you want to join in for the newsletter click here) and people like learning about that stuff–the things we generally never talked about when we got home.

So, what would you like to know? Or, from any of you prison types–any trivia you’d like to pass on?I’ll credit you if your question is used.





  1. I can’t think of anything. My husband’s cousin is a psychologist working in a prison in Utah. I’ll ask him.

    1. Thanks, JT! It’s always interesting to see what other prison folks are running into out there.

  2. 19166911593 · · Reply

    Great cover on the new book… sort of makes me think that it is something like hell might be like. Looking forward to December 12

    1. The cover turned out great! Crooked Lane did a wonderful job putting it together.

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