Prison is way more twisted than what's on TV. These people witnessed some of the worst humanity has to offer and lived to tell about it. Seriously, once someone is behind those concrete walls, things get bizarre and unsettling fast. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I spent a couple weeks in county jail. On the first day, we were all being processed into the facility, which included stripping, bending over, spreading our cheeks, and coughing, just like in the movies. We were told very succinctly to never ever even joke about suicide while in the facility. Kinda like how you just don't say 'bomb' on an airplane anymore. By day three, I had a good understanding of the other guys I was locked up with. There was one kid in the group that seemed underdeveloped mentally, he probably had a learning disability among other things, but he essentially acted like a twelve year old. I knew early on he was going to get himself in trouble because he never stopped talking or moving, and he was rubbing everyone the wrong way. I tried to tell him to chill out and be invisible, but he was not understanding what I was telling him. I had been there a week, when the 'twelve year old' finally lost his cool completely. He was in the shower, singing and joking around, putting on a performance that went too far, and he pooped on the floor as a joke. After the other guys in the shower grabbed their towels and ran, he proceeded to kick the poop all over the walls and into the other shower stalls (I didn't shower for the rest of my stay, truth be told). It turned into a big scene, and then when the 'trustees' came in to clean up the poop all over the walls, it turned into an even bigger scene. The whole time, the 'twelve year old' was locked in a cell near the showers, laughing and joking as other inmates had to clean up his poop and make the shower area sanitary again. State run facilities have standards after all!
The next day, everyone was looking at the 'twelve year old' with hate in their eyes. Everyone missed their showers the day prior due to the poop incident, and then the kid was still up to his antics at breakfast the next day. Everyone got really cold toward him, even openly mean. I'll admit that I started ignoring him completely after the poop. It took him a day or two to realize he was hated by all, and then his personality changed dramatically. He became sad, despondent, and he started talking to the correctional officers because the other inmates wouldn't talk to him anymore. He messed up, and told the officers that he should just harm himself and make everyone happy. That was all it took for them to drag out the Blue Burrito. This is the scariest thing I had seen in jail. The Blue Burrito was a ten foot long blue foam mat, like you would use in gym class, with two twelve foot long red belts attached. They laid it out on the floor, forced the 'twelve year old' to lay on the mat, and then they rolled him up with his arms at his sides into the blue burrito. The two long red belts clipped together at the top and bottom of the burrito, keeping it all nice and tight. This was the suicide protocol at the jail. No counseling and no medical ward. You lose the ability to move. They put that poor guy in the burrito around 8:00 p.m., dragging him into his cell and leaving him laying on the floor, wrapped up tight, until breakfast the next morning, around 8:00 a.m. Imagine being unable to move, barely able to breath, with no end in sight for twelve hours on the floor of your tiny cell. My cell was up above his, and I heard him weeping and moaning in agony all night. He didn't say a word to anyone, or look anyone in the eye for that matter for the rest of the time I was there. One night in the Blue Burrito broke him."
"Okay, so this might have been the strangest thing I ever saw while I was in prison. This was in Oregon by the way, which is reputable for having some of the least 'hard' yards in the country. I still saw plenty of terrors, but this is the only one I like to talk about. Coming back from eating, you walk down this super long (football field length), 30' wide hall to get back to your cell block. Walking back, I've got my eye on two elderly lifers, both with canes, having a pretty animated discussion over who knows what at the end of the hall. As I continue walking towards them, apparently one of them says something the other doesn't like, because he picks up that his own cane and just beams the other dude on the head. I expect the other old timer to crumple to the ground, but NOPE, homie must be made of sterner stuff! The other old man picks up his cane and BOOM, it's a full on geriatric sword fight in the middle of the hallway. Like, these dudes are really going at it, CLACK CLACK CLACK, occasionally getting each other with a couple of pretty gnarly lumps and gashes on each others heads. They are just going back and forth all over the hall, both of them eighty years old plus, doing it dark ages style. It was beyond wild. Eventually, the guards managed to sprint down the hall and hosed the two of them down to stop things. But I'll never forget my first old man stick fight. One of the elderly dudes was a legitimate cannibal who killed and ate three people. The other wasn't allowed to walk out in the yard, or he would be killed on sight."
"I watched a guy come into the federal prison camp with a sentence of a year and a day. They gave him a job driving the mower to mow the grass. On his first day of the job, he flipped the mower on the edge of the pond. He landed in about a foot of water, with the back of the mower sear on his neck, and the entire mower on top of him. He drowned. Help was called in, but it was taking too long. Us inmates ran to the water, and it took six of us to lift the mower off of his neck. Someone tried CPR on him, but it was far too late. The official report stated that he died on the way to the hospital in a helicopter, and his family fully believes that. I was one of first people to see him, and I was the one that went screaming to get inmates to come help. The prison completely lied, covering everything up because they did not want to be sued. It turned out that this man was LEGALLY BLIND, and they let him drive the massive mower. After the whole thing was over with, the director of the prison talked to everyone, saying that this man died on the way to the hospital, and they they did everything they could to try and save him. But everyone who witnessed the incident knows the real truth. Unfortunately, there isn't anything we were ever able to do about it."
"When I was in Orange County Jail, I saw a whole bunch of wild stuff. For context, a cell would contain up to eight men. A dorm would contain two floors with up to sixty-four men each. This one new prisoner was sent to my dorm at midnight, and he immediately started talking smack to Cyclone. Cyclone was a prisoner who was a literal nazi, and nobody wanted to mess with him. This new guy was spouting off at Cyclone about how he would be the new leader of 'the woods', which was code for the other nazis. It went back and forth to the point where everyone across the dorm was watching this argument. An important note here: there are certain words you never ever say to someone in Orange County Jail, unless you want to get immediately jumped. Those include 'punk' and 'lame', which the new guy used right away towards Cyclone. Merely a second after this happened, Cyclone braced his body between two beds, as if he was doing some dips. He lifted himself up and heel-kicked the new guy straight in the mouth. The new guy was knocked out instantly. One minute later, everyone in the dorm started shouting like crazy, and the smell that followed quickly explained things.
It turned out that the new guy had some explosive diarrhea. Everyone was gagging where they hit on the emergency button and needed whatever cleaning supplies they could find from the officers. The new guy was completely covered in blood and poop, and I remember so vividly watching all of this from my upstairs cell. I could not believe it. That experience still feels so fresh in my mind."
"So I went to jail for a whole twenty-four hour period over some traffic related stuff. I was in it for the whole experience: the crocs, the orange jumpsuit, ham sandwich, and booster shots. It was wild, especially since I’m an overall decent citizen with no felonies or anything that would warrant me ending up there, except for that unpaid traffic tickets. While I was being registered, there was a very large, definitely gang-affiliated black man, who was being brought in from another district and literally walked in the door of the jail in handcuffs with officers. He was yelling about how, 'This county’s idiot jail wasn’t nothing compared to his county’s jail!' and basically taunting the officers. There was one super big officer they called Tex, and this guy legitimately looked like Shrek. He was openly prejudiced and definitely wasn’t having it with the new guy who was talking all of this talk. So, I watched them purposely leave this new guy’s cell open a crack so the guy would try stepping out,. As soon as he did, six officers mobbed him and beat the living daylights out of him. Next, he was being brought into the powder room to be thoroughly checked (in his butt) for weapons, dressed, and sent back to his tank. Who performed this powdering session? Why it was none other than Tex himself! Five of the other officers waited outside knowing what would happen, and it can only be assumed that Tex took advantage of being crammed alone in a small space with this person and started beating on him. Once again, the other five joined in and wailed on this guy. He was bleeding all over. It was a pretty wild experience to see how blatantly obvious it was that they just wanted to beat someone badly."
"I've never been to prison, but my cousin did, and he came back out all sorts of messed up. He was arrested for weed possession. According to him, he spent the majority of his time in solitary confinement for his safety. He said that his first couple of months there were okay, as far as prison goes. But that one day, for whatever reason, some guy who had been kept separate from the general population was accidentally put with the rest of the prisoners unsupervised. Aa few prisoners grabbed the guy, broke his arms and legs, and wailed on him. My cousin said that those men pounced on him, and that they threatened anyone who snitched on them. The guards still got word that this was happening, and they put my cousin in solitary confinement for 'safety'. He was eventually kept there for months longer, because he wouldn't snitch on whoever carried out the murder, so the guards tried to accuse him of being an accomplice. When they my cousin out of solitary finally, he noticed that people started to avoid him, and someone told him that he had been labeled a snitch. He freaked out and started to watch his back. The guards basically started to tell him that he had to give his testimony, or they couldn't find a reason to keep him safe if he didn't witness anything like he claimed. He ended up spending close to another year in prison until the charges got dropped by a judge and he was released a few days later.
I'm not sure how long is normal for people to be put in solitary for 'safety' or whatever reason, but it seemed so cruel and inhumane. He has some serious psychological issues now because of it. I haven't seen him in years now, but I talk to him on online every once in a while. My other cousins who live closer to him have said that he has episodes where he will ramble and talk to no one, and that they have to keep an eye on him because he will wander off for days and come back filthy. They've tried getting him help, but when they try, he will disappear again, and they will have to look for him. He also could get violent, because he says he doesn't want to be locked up again."
"I've never been to prison, but my uncle has. And his story was really interesting and kind of disturbing. We live in Mexico, specifically in Guadalajara. My uncle has diabetes, and at that time his health was really bad. He had a divorce twelve years ago, and his ex wife and him lost all contact, so she didn't know about his condition. She didn't receive her pension, so she sued him, and by the end of that week he was taken to a prison called Puente Grande. He was there only for three days, since it was easy to prove that it was impossible to work in that state, but he still saw a lot of terrifying stuff during his brief stint. First of all, prisoners have a hierarchy there. When new prisoners come, there are prisoners with power to judge them and punish them according to their stories on how they got there. The guards know this, but there's still a lot of people with power inside the cells. According to my uncle, some prisoners were taken to a large room by the guards, and after they left, other prisoners came in and started questioning them. One of the new prisoners admitted to assaulting a woman, and the other prisoners got so disgusted that they beat him up behind closed doors. The guards totally looked the other way. Thankfully, nothing bad happened to my uncle when he was there, and he got out of there as soon as we were able to prove that he had diabetes. I was seventeen when he told me all about this, and it absolutely horrified me."
"I served a year in a state penitentiary in Arizona. I didn't see much that honestly shocked me. I had been on the street prior to being locked up, so anything I saw happen in prison was the same as on the outside. There were plenty of fights, but nothing out of the ordinary. The one part that really does stick with me the most is the amount of very clearly mentally ill people who were locked up with me, but they were receiving no help whatsoever. To be fair, none of us were really getting any help, but some of these guys were clearly going to have no option when they left, except to go back to what they were doing that landed them in jail in the first place. I was incarcerated with 1200 other inmates in one yard in Tucson, in a complex complete with seven or eight other yards. This was merely one of the many, many complexes in the state of Arizona. This also came as a massive shock to me when I really thought about it. It was such a massive amount of people being locked up. Most of the people I did time with were incarcerated for non violent offenses. But the people clearly struggling with mental disabilities was so disheartening to witness. The prison system is so, so messed up."
"I turned six months into three years of juvie time. While not really bad, this one kid supposedly fell in the shower and hit his head. Not sure if it was a planned ruse, but after he came back from the hospital, he suddenly forgot how to talk and lost his memory. He would communicate with whimpers. This went on for a few weeks. Every month, you would go in for evaluation, and your remaining time and your progress would be reviewed. I'm assuming he thought this act would get him sent home. The staff eventually grew tired of it and in his review they told him since he didn't remember anything, that he would have to do all off his time again, because he obviously hadn't learned anything to be rehabilitated. His memory miraculously returned that day.
As for my own backstory, I was into the slammer for burglary at sixteen. The sentence was only a six month program, kind of like a boys summer camp in the middle of the woods. They had a point system, where you would start with 650 points at the beginning of the week. You would earn or lose points based on your behavior. You would gain points for doing chores and behaving, or lose them by fighting and other stupid stuff. Above 650 points was a 'positive' week, and you would get candy and extra privileges, like movie night and field trips. Less than 650 was negative. So throughout your sentence they kept track. If you didn't have enough positive weeks when you went to your review, you would get more time. My home life sucked, and I wound up having fun hanging out with other boys and finally being able to be a kid. The food was good. I was smart and maxed out the placement tests, so I didn't really have to do school work. I ended up doing enough stupid shenanigans to wind up at the first program for a year. After a year, you go back to the juvenile detention center and they reassess your needs and send you to another program, as they can keep you until eighteen if they want. They didn't really think that I had been 'rehabilitated', so I spent another year at another program. I pushed a staff member once there, got another charge, and I was sent to an adult jail because I had just turned eighteen. I spent a year in county jail and was finally free afterwards."
"It wasn't me, but it was my brother. He always had substance abuse problems and depression. It was obvious that he needed professional help, but what he got instead was over seven years of his life lost to jail and prison. Stabbings? He's seen it. Assault? He's seen it. Overdoses? Lack of medical treatment? Oh yeah, he's seen it. He even seen inmates forced to rub hot sauce on their privates by the correctional officers. Inmates were even made to fight each other. The worst part of it all was how my brother almost died from an infection in his lungs. He asked for help while he was struggling to breathe and even stand upright. The nurse and officers called him a liar and charged him fifty bucks for a false medical visit. He collapsed and almost died before he was taken to a hospital, and nobody was punished or lost their jobs. When he finally got out of prison, he had to pay court costs, fines, bills, maintenance for a house arrest device, and a million other things. He is now finally a law-abiding citizen with most of his rights restored, but try telling that to anyone hiring for a job. My cousin is locked up right now, and I can guarantee that it is all still the same in those nightmare prisons. When I think of what my brother and many others had to go through alone, when they so clearly needed a little help, it makes me want to sob."
"I had a family friend get arrested and sent to jail in Indonesia. He was there digging wells for a village that didn't have access to water. How did he get there? While working in Indonesia, he kept getting bugged by this guy who wanted to get a bible form him. Evangelism is illegal in Indonesia. After a few days of being pestered and telling the guy that he couldn't give him one, my friend finally relented and gave the guy his personal travel bible. Some others rode up with the police and had my family friend arrested. My family friend was in jail for a year without trial. He was tossed into a two-person cell with eight other people, one of whom had swine flu, which meant that they all got swine flu. Sadly, the toilet was just a hole in the ground that backed up on the first day. There were only two beds, so they had to sleep in their own feces on the floor. The prison guards made the prisoners bribe them to get food every day, and one of the prisoners in the cell ran out of money. The guards took him into another room and shot him in the leg, told him to get more money, and reported that he was trying to escape as they tossed him back into that awful cell. This went on for a year before our friend was able to get a trial, but once he finally did, the judge didn't see what the big deal was and wanted to release him. Sadly, there was a mob of radicals outside the courthouse with signs that said, 'If you release him, we'll kill him.' Unfortunately, that kind of thing happened there all the time. So the judge tossed him back in jail to protect him, and the U.S. finally had to have him extradited. It was a grim reminder for all of us what we were risking by being there."