Category inmate

1 Building C Side
Courtesy of the Folsom Prison Museum

Is Life Really Life?

Life in prison. The judge hands down the sentence and most people think that’s the end of it. The convicted man (or woman) will spend the balance of their natural life behind bars. Life sentences are reserved for the worst crimes–kidnapping, murder and habitual criminals. well…maybe. I recall, early in my career, going into a […]

Folsom Prison East Gate

Who’s On The Gun?

Little things on the inside If you haven’t worked deep in the bowels of a prison, you might not know there a whole host of things that occur everyday that determine how your shift will unfold–uneventful, a grind, or worse. Some take it for granted, but if you’ve worked there–you know better. Most seasoned prison folks […]

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5 Things I Learned in Prison

Time in prison is supposed to “teach” you things, right? That’s why it was originally called the penitentiary — as in penance. A place to reflect on one’s life and the path not taken. Some lessons are learned the hard way. The weak, meek and mild won’t survive in prison. Inmates quickly develop survival mechanisms […]

image by thomas hawk via flickr creative commons

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Respect, and I’m not talking about the Aretha Franklin classic, but something just as deadly. Outside of drug deals, there are more stabbings in prison over respect, or more precisely the lack of respect, than nearly any other motivation. This very unscientific finding is based upon years of “picking up the pieces” after a stabbing […]

folsom prison east gate

Where Have All The Convicts Gone?

I grew up in a time of convicts. These days, a convict is hard to find. Convicts lived by a code that governed their conduct on the streets and in prison. Not that convicts weren’t dangerous criminals — they were, and their numbers included notorious murders, robbers and thieves. And they played by the rules. Rules? The […]

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Want to Time Travel? Go To Prison

I’ve been playing with an idea for a new book and it involves – wait for it – time travel. Not like the H. G. Wells, Time Machine kind of time travel. There is not fanciful device to dial up the year and zap you to the exact time and place of your choosing. The story I’m noodling […]

image by allen affix via flickr creative commons

50 Shades of Grey Matter

Have you been around that person, the one with the brain that operates on an entirely different level than the rest of us? This guy (or gal) is the one doing their sudoku puzzles in ink along with their morning herbal tea. They are the ones who do math equations for the fun of it and […]

The morning commute
image from zimbio.com

A Crappy Commute

When did the daily commute become a trial by fire? These days my daily commute consists of a few yards from the coffee urn to the desk. Barring unforeseen complications, I make my journey in a few minutes, negotiating the stairs and stray dog toys. On those occasions where I am required to leave the compound, […]

1 Building C Side
Courtesy of the Folsom Prison Museum

How Real is Too Real?

Something I’ve been stewing on for a couple of years, is the bridge between reality and your fiction work. The rule is that you have to keep your reader in a state of willingness to suspend belief. So, here was my dilemma. I worked in and around prisons for over twenty-five years. I’ve seen what […]

1 Building C Side
Courtesy of the Folsom Prison Museum

Prison and Plotting

Prison changes a man. I actually heard a hardened prison gang member say that once. The man was feared in gang circles and ran one of the biggest gang, weapons and drug rackets in Folsom Prison in the 1980’s. New inmates, “fish” as they were called, had to check in with his underlings and pay […]