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Stay Away From The Universal Gym
Stay Away From The Universal Gym

"I did 3 1/2 years in Texas prisons. I believe that the worst story I can recall was my first full day in a 'State Jail' facility (used as a transition center for up to 2 years before one is sent to a real 'prison' in Texas). A guy came up to me asking if I smoked. I didn't but thought, why not? So he told me to head to the gym when that time came later that afternoon. We went to the gym and fired up a smoke while we walked around the basketball court. As we were walking around the court, we approached the 'universal gym' machine where a variety of people were using the various pieces to work out. The guy who offered me the smoke advised me to follow him to the other side of the basketball court and to stay away from the universal gym. A few minutes later a guy sat down and leaned back to do some bench press when four guys grabbed him (one on each arm and one on each leg). Two other guys pull out cans of chili in socks and proceed to hammer the guy in the face. The guy at the bench press had his face completely caved in. All I could think was, 'What have I gotten myself into...' I also recall one other time when I was at the pre-release facility at the Beto Unit where a guy had his face cut up with a box cutter and his throat slit over $20 even though had about $40 worth of smoke on him when he died."

False Accusations Regarding Hot Coffee?
False Accusations Regarding Hot Coffee?

"I was woken up by a female sergeant who was doing surprise inspection rounds at a time when we were not really supposed to be having inspections. She told me to straighten out my bed. I said: 'Are you serious?' Then she said: 'Get in the holding area, white boy.'

I went out into the holding area where I was escorted by 2 guards to the hole. When we got to the detention block, she told the guards there that I threw a cup of hot coffee at her. Well, 3 guards then very roughly escorted me to a cell and pushed me inside.

Ten minutes later, 5 big black guards came into my cell and beat me with key rings, batons, fists, and boots. They stomped me until I was bloody and broken. They left me in the cell for 4 days with no food or drink and they threw buckets of cold water on me every few hours.

Finally, a lieutenant came on the block and asked me what happened and I got sent to the infirmary. The docs looked at me and just gave me some aspirin and ointments. I spent the next 60 days in the hole without trial.

On the 60th day, they gave me a trial and found me not guilty of the charges of assaulting the sergeant."

Someone Got Ahold Of The Barbed Wire...
Someone Got Ahold Of The Barbed Wire...

"I did 7 years in a Pennsylvania state prison.

I saw a guy who was accidentally cleared by psych to be in general population, go out to the yard and try to cut his own head off with the razor wire. Since it was so early in the morning, there were not a lot of people out. So he sprinted toward the fence as soon as he got out there, we all thought, oh crap, we've never seen someone try to get over these forests of razor wire. But then this idiot turns around with his back right up against the fence, cops coming from three directions yelling into their radios, and he loops a circle of razor wire around his neck and starts sawing.

Yes, most of the razor wire is up top on the fence, but there's a single run about 8 feet up the face of the fence, maybe to just discourage you from testing out the rest of it. He found this one section in the corner of the yard, where the fence makes a bend, where that run was sagging down enough he could reach up and grab it

A freaking waterfall of blood. Cops froze, everyone froze. That stuff was really unexpected. They told us he lived, but I have no idea how.

I always thought the pain reflex of holding on to freaking razor wire would've made him stop, but nope. The craziest part is that prison can be months and months of literally the same thing over and over and over like everything's painted the same color, then that guy over there is trying to cut his head off - oh wait, huh? Like that. And prison doctors freaking suck so hard - they probably gave him ibuprofen and sent him on to the hospital."

He Did What To His Cellmate?

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He Did What To His Cellmate?

"I was in prison for 6 years. 2 years in, I felt calm. I mostly kept to myself, although I had a few friends.

One day I was given a new cellmate, and it was the worst experience in my life. To this day, I can't sleep; I self-medicate anything I can get my hands on, I have a girlfriend (bless her heart) who I can't sleep next to because if I do, I will go into shock when she touches me.

Anyways, my new cellmate seemed fine at first, he told me he had never been to prison before and was scared, I was just like him so I think I wanted to make sure he felt okay. I stay in my cell to play cards with him, we talked, after a few days I truly started to bond with him, he became my friend; we both loved video games, came from the same town, we played the 'would you rather' game for hours on end just laughing.

Then, randomly I was asked by another prisoner about my cellmate, he wanted to know why he was locked up. I didn't even know, but it made me curious, so I asked him and he confided in me that he assaulted a minor (I later found out that the person he took advantage of was his wife who was underage). I was shocked and scared of what would happen to him, so I tried my best to avoid the people asking me about him until I was beaten and assaulted for keeping quiet.

The funny thing was I didn't mind it. I didn't even know why I was standing up for some random guy, but I knew that he wouldn't last long if people knew about his past. The assault went on for weeks, I shouldn't even call it assault, I would go meet the man, strip down, and he would do his thing - it became a scheduled thing. It was messed up.

Eventually, it started being more than just 1 guy, it was a group, and it got worse and I couldn't handle it. I broke and told them why my cellmate was behind bars. They gave me an option, either I kill my cellmate or they kill both of us.

I'm messed up, I didn't even think about killing him until one day he started talking. I don't even remember what he was saying, I just snapped, and my hand grabbed a book I was reading. All I remember is the feeling of the hardcover and the letters of the book 'Pride and Prejudice'. The feeling of the texture on my fingers...I can feel it now. I smashed his head in, the book flew out of my hand so I started using my hands. He was dead but I didn't stop.

Honestly, some part of me liked it, everything pent up in me since forever was just released. In my head, I believed the more I smashed my fists into this bloody dead body, the more I would be happy. I kept going, laughing, punching, laughing, punching, until a guard came and pulled me off of him.

I remember his face, his smell, his smile, the way he would shuffle the deck, the feeling of his blood on my hands, my friend.

But even more so I will never forget how good it felt, better than any substance, the rush of it all. The feeling of pure power, in all aspects I was his maker and I was passing judgment on him. I was everything...and that scares me. It opened up a door that I believe should never be opened in a person. It keeps me up at night, it laughs at me when I'm awake. It mocks me when I try to sleep, it's always watching me, waiting for the moment I unlock the door."

Watching An Actual Prison Brawl!
Watching An Actual Prison Brawl!

"I was in Bexar County, San Antonio for a month for vagrancy. I was homeless - with an out of state ID - instant lock up.

I have 2 stories.

1) While we are processing they have us in these chicken coup looking cells. It feels like cells were made to be 60x60, but are divided into threes by diamond fences. We got lucky and got the furthest three chicken coups next to the females processing, so we got to flirt and holler at some women before going in.

Come to find out, one of the guys in the chicken coup next to us had been arrested with his wife, and one of the guys (skinny white guy) made a typical crude comment about what he would do to her, you know, not knowing the 5'11 Hispanic guy would take offense to that. So out of nowhere, the Hispanic guy charges the fence - telling the white kid that he's freaking dead once they get to pop. 'That's my freaking bunny, mother to my children!'

So, as they are talking crap back and forth, the Hispanic guy hacks up one of the biggest most filthy spitwads I have ever seen and hits the white kid right in the eye. They continue exchanging backtalk - the comfort of the diamond fence keeping them apart. About 5 hours later the correctional officer says we are being moved into one of the 20x20 to make room for the addicts, so all the threats these dudes exchanged were still hanging in the air.

Truth be told I wanted to see this stuff pop off - obviously, no one was gonna freaking snitch and make the correctional officer aware of the tension and the error of their ways. So its about 15 dudes in this pod now. We know the drill - put bodies in the front of the door, block the view the best you can - and enjoy the show.

For about 50 seconds I saw one of the most brutal fights I've ever seen. The sound of skull on concrete is freaking brutal - no matter how loud a jail is Friday night with all the addicts, everyone heard it. The correctional officers charge the chicken coup and try and break it up, but it's already over. White kid is messed up, the Hispanic guy is covered in blood with his eye torn up.

2) So after spending 72 hours in the processing pod, most of the group I came in with was pretty fed up. We had been waiting to get moved into our pods and get comfortable-ish as it was 25 dudes touching shoulders. The first night the gave us blankets but no actual beds, so for three nights we had to sleep on a concrete floor, each guy taking a segment of the outer wall and the unlucky idiot next to the toilet bowl not getting any sleep since everyone took their turn.

When we wake up and are told we are getting moved, so everyone is pretty excited to eat something besides stale bread and rotten smelling bologna from the bagged lunches, a hot shower, and some new clothes.

Then 4 pm rolls through, shift change, and we kind of see our last chance to be moved out go out the door. The new shift doesn't know anything about the transfer to pods and ignores us. They split our groups into two groups, each into smaller pods than before, and then I see a CERT team member (Community Emergency Response Team) go by, I guess they had just completed a cell extraction on some kid and messed him up. So the jail is humming because the news is getting passed down the pods. It gets to our pod, and my loud self says,

'Yo this freakin' ninja turtle-looking tryhard just broke some kid's jaw from the Tango.' The CERT hears me and in full gear comes face to face with me. So I'm feeling the pressure of the pod to not look like a wuss, so I psuh back and get slammed into the door with his shield. The back of my head is bleeding. This, tied up with the tension of being in these freaking pods for 72 hours, the pod freaking erupts. CERT squad rules through and is ready to complete a cell extraction on all of us. They rush us, pulling one or two at a time while pushing the majority of us back. These idiots must've been feeling some type of way for laying on a dude because I get dragged out and dogpiled. The shield on my back cutting into the gash I already had from getting slammed into a door.

So we get messed up, to say the least. One thing I will say though, to be honest - anytime I hear a story of a correctional officer getting stabbed or something, the first thing that comes to mind is, 'I wonder what that jerk did to get someone so freaking angry.'"

They Were On Lockdown
They Were On Lockdown

"I did 4 years and 4 months in a prison in Colombia, South America.

While I was there, there were riots, got tear-gassed a bunch of times, one time 'The Big Boss' gave the order that every cell block barricade themselves, and one cell block took a couple of guards' prisoner. This was on the news and it was a big deal. They brought in The Group of Immediate Reaction, sort of a SWAT for prisons. These guys came seriously armed. When they ran in front of our cell block gate all the guys ran into the cell block, me and two other less experienced convicts stayed by the door watching, when one of them stood in front of the door and pointed his weapon at us.

We put our arms in the air. The guy next to me starts screaming, 'Don't shoot us, we are not armed.' The other guys started praying so I called out the same thing, 'Please don't kill us!' The GRI officers start yelling, 'Shut the heck up and pull your pants down!' We do exactly that and we took our shirts off for good measure. The guy tells us to get on our knees hands on top of our heads. We are only in that position briefly because shots ring out from another cell block. The guy and some others run toward the chaos and the two other guys and I run into the cell block.

The first thing the prison does is cut off the power, phones, and electricity. We were on lockdown for 2 days. It was really intense and I really thought we were done for.

One night everyone is in bed sleeping when suddenly someone starts screaming in pain. I thought that someone was getting killed, I was scared to death, because you have nowhere to run, nowhere to go. But I started hearing people getting up and talking, it turned out that a roach crawled into the guy's ear. After that, it was toilet paper in your ears when you go to sleep.

One day a young kid got caught stealing some old guy's disposable razor, the old man was begging the house man not to hit the kid but it was too late, examples have to be made. We all had to stand by and watch this poor kid get beat like an animal, afterward, I wasn't the only one with tears in my eyes.

Another terrible thing was on visiting days, we would all bunch up by the gate of the cell block waiting for our visits. You would see a new inmate receive his visit and most would break into heartwrenching sobs. That was hard to watch, mostly because you remember the day it happened to you. Mothers, wives, brothers, sisters, they were all heartbroken and it was your fault, it just sucked. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it wasn't just one thing, it was many."

Leave The Light Bulb Alone
Leave The Light Bulb Alone

"I'm an ex-corrections officer. I was 4 1/2 years in Cofield Unit in Texas. I think the worst thing I ever saw was a guy who was getting off with a light bulb. One of those little screw-in 60 watt light bulbs. Anyway, the guy stuck it up his behind, glass end first and couldn't get it out. He asked the guards to take him to medical and I was on the escort team (he was in segregation). We get to medical and sit for a while. Next thing I know the guy is screaming, blood and crap run everywhere and he just passes out. We ended up having to life flight him out to the closest hospital where the opened him up and rinsed his butt out. I was in the room the whole time. I'm still traumatized."

Eating Cleaning Products?
Eating Cleaning Products?

"I went to the county for a DUI.

A kid got put in a one-man cell in 'the loop' for being a bit off his rocker. They knowingly put him in there with cleaning products that the workers used to clean the cells. He ate a bunch of the powdered bleach and died.

Fast forward to my probation violations months later. They stopped cleaning the cells, apparently, as a result. The same sinks were broken and overflowing on both my visits since. Also got housed after a day in the loop and they put you with people charged with aggravated assault and pretty much anyone who happens to be there gets thrown together regardless of the crime. It's something like a 60-80 man cell with two rows of metal bunks with six toilets.

You get in and there's a rep for the different races picking new guys like kids for dodgeball teams and they tell you the rules and where to bunk up.

Initiation time came and I guess I didn't have to get a beating but they wanted me to participate in one. Upon my refusal, they got in my face and wanted to kick my butt. Thank goodness some other dude made a huge stink over it and got hit in the face and they all went back to their bunks to avoid attention and I was released the next morning. Nothing too crazy but enough to make me never want to go back."

What Happened In The Michigan Maximum Security Prison
What Happened In The Michigan Maximum Security Prison

"My family came to visit me on Christmas day the first year I was in.

I was so ashamed that I had a little breakdown the next day and punched the cinderblock wall inside my cell. One of the guards invited me to come talk to him. I made the mistake of thinking he was a friend and was talking about the meaning of life and why things happened. He decided he thought I was suicidal, which I wasn't.

The next day I was shipped off to a maximum security prison in the upper peninsula of Michigan, stripped down naked and given a kevlar smock to wear. They keep the temperature down to 60 degrees which means that you have to stay huddled in a corner to conserve body heat. And because this was observation I wasn't allowed to have anything; I had nothing to read, watch, etc. I was naked and cold for an entire week. If you'd like to see what this is like, turn your thermostat down, then take all your clothes off, and sleep on the floor of your bathroom with the light on for 6 days straight. No showering either - I wasn't offered a chance to clean myself.

So that's how I spent New Years 2007. Observation is not some kind of psychological treatment, it's punishment and mental torture. Sleeping and singing to yourself are all you can do. Too cold to do anything else. Freaking brutal. Now I try to go out of the country for New Year's Eve every year."

Learning The Jail-Cell Lingo...
Learning The Jail-Cell Lingo...

"I was a county inmate being held in a federal hold pod in a northern Utah county jail. It was my first and only charge (misdemeanor theft) and I ended up doing 14 months for it.

The place was a mess. You had a sprinkling of short-time county inmates and a whole bunch of people awaiting huge federal sentences. My cellmate, for example, was indicted for his involvement in 99 gang-related murders. There was a large population of white supremacists, some of whom I would play cards with when I first got there. I had no idea of prison lingo, nothing.

Smash cut to a week in and we are playing spades in the common area with everyone else. The scariest man I have ever seen in my life smacks down the queen of spades on me to win. I laugh and say: 'You punk! Good game.' You could hear a pin drop in that place. He looks at me and calmly says: 'If my own mother called me a punk, I would slit her throat and watch her die.' I had no idea what to do and simply stuttered my way through telling him I had never been to jail and did not understand the gravity of what I said. I then apologized. He sat for what seemed like hours and the room stayed silent. He then said 'apology accepted' and we started another game.

My cellmate later asked me if I knew how close I got to being killed that night."

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"You're Doing The Equivalent Of 'Time-Out' For Months"

"Seeing people getting taken advantage of all of the time and then not caring was the worst. New guys coming in and getting ripped off on trades and stuff, people with social/developmental issues just getting their food taken from them. Also, the psychology of people without goals gets weird.

What was even worst was just becoming part of that world. There are so many people there that have their rights taken away from them on a regular basis and don't care anymore. They choose to place value on being able to make others fear them. They stop thinking about the world beyond the walls and just get all wrapped up in the weird culture of the place.

There was a day I was feeling proud of myself because I was running around organizing contraband trades, setting up poker games, and owning things like hardcover books and the only dice in the place - in that moment of pride, I realized I had started to lose my mind...

It's honestly hard to remember the months in there because most of the time NOTHING'S FREAKING HAPPENING. Nothing. You've read until you can't stand it. You've slept all you can. You can't play cards because your cellmate is sleeping...

So you stare at the ceiling and wait. It's so weird to realize you're doing the equivalent of 'time-out' for months. You're not waiting for 5 minutes, not waiting 5 hours - you're waiting for a day that is months away, just waiting..."

He Was Just Trying To Keep To Himself...
He Was Just Trying To Keep To Himself...

"The first day I was assigned to a new unit after being sentenced (DUI, 90 days) I got put in a 5-man cell.

It wasn't my first time locked up and had been in the jail a few weeks so I wasn't too nervous. The guys were cool to me all evening, all 4 had done time before in much worse prisons. They were all playing cards and I didn't know the game, so I sat on my bunk reading.

They started off saying weird cryptic gay stuff, random stuff regarding vaseline and who was cute on the block, etc. It ramps up over the course of an hour, then they start playing strip poker. Meanwhile, I've been hearing every word they say and studiously ignoring it. They got bored of being subtle and began saying awful stuff about getting with each other. I ignore everything, while secretly getting scared to death that they're going to do something to me.

Eventually, all 4 got up (shirtless) and they trapped me on my top bunk and started grabbing at me. I yelled: 'What the HECK!?' and they collapsed in laughter and spent the next 48 hours telling everyone who'd listen."

He Witnessed Death?

BortN66/Shutterstock

He Witnessed Death?

"I got locked up for assault in Rockland County, NY. I did a county year (8 months).

All in all, the worst I saw was someone hang himself from a tier and 2 stabbings. While that was awful, for most, everyone pretty much accepted their punishment and wanted to just get free again. The best advice is just to go in with your chin up and don't let it get the best of you. If you have to fight, don't be a coward. Even if you lose, they'll respect that you stood up for yourself. Don't be a pig either, that's the #1 rule. Fart in the toilet, don't get stuff everywhere, stuff like that. Common courtesies. And never ever snitch, even if it means you get screwed over with time in the box.

It served its purpose for me. I used it as a time to examine where my life was headed and made changes. Jail doesn't have to ruin your life. Learn from it and move forward."

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