Category prison

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Can You Read The Signs?

Where would we be without someone telling us where to go, what to do and how to get there? Thankfully, there are an abundance of signs out there to guide us poor, aimless creatures through life. Without a nudge in the right direction, it seems, we would follow the way of the lemming and fall […]

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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 […]

image via la times

In Prison — Seeing Is Believing

What happens in prison usually stays in prison. Kinda like a bad Las Vegas honeymoon. Nobody wants to know the depths of the debauchery that goes on in either place. When I worked as a department of corrections administrator, we were often burnt at the stake when a criminal decided to do a bad thing. […]

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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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It’s Just A Word

Remember the old children’s verse; sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me? Well, I’m calling bullshit on that one. One ill-chosen word has weight and is capable of inflicting a hurtful sting. String a few of these words together and lives are impacted. Last week I posted about a setting […]

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The Prison You Don’t See

I’m writing a new story and part of the new piece involves prison — specifically mental health treatment in prison. It’s a strange thing to witness a prison mental health crisis first hand and after working around correctional mental health units and activating one in a maximum security prison, it occurred to me that most readers don’t […]

image by thomas hawk via flickr creative commons

How Do Drugs Get Into Prison?

Getting prohibited items inside a prison is more than a game, it’s business. Every so often, a naive junior legislator will leave a fundraising lunch long enough to pop their head into a committee hearing and express their handwringing shock and dismay over drugs and other contraband appearing inside prison walls. Contraband is any item prohibited by […]