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"Bronson" - Nicolas Roefn

14.08.10

 

Gorgeous overkill

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"Et in Arcadia ego"

14.08.10

 

 

 

 

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"2 years in Prison"

14.08.10

Was done for armed robbery and got 18 months on a plea bargain. Got fucked on three parole hearings and ended up doing another four months. You hear of these guys who get out early because they were 'model prisoners' I don't know how they do it.

So while I was inside I made a list of the worst things about prison to share with the boards I used to frequent. Seemed like any discussion of prison would be all like 'lolrape' and no actual info for anons that might find themselves in my shitty situation. So here it is, the top 10 worst things about prison that you never knew about:


10. The Smell

Prison smells like shit. Smells worse than shit. You know the smell you imagine jenkem to smell like? Imagine that, only it's being rubbed on the arm pits of a sweaty mexican and then his armpit pubes are being set fire too. It's that bad. No one flushes the fucking john. Ever. You know how clean prison looks in all the pictures? It is, because we spend all fucking day cleaning it. And then convicts just basically shit themselves for a laugh. I switched buses on the way back and sat next to this guy wearing cologne. I'm not gay (well, as not gay as you can be after being inside) but I got a boner as soon as I smelt it. Fucking amazing.

9.

White people.

After the first year, I was ashamed to be white. In the world, white people are capable of all kinds of great things, and all kinds of bad things. But inside we're just universally cunts. Aryan Brotherhood weren't a big presence in my block, but they were bad enough to make you kind of wish your mother had been raped by a nigger. And that's before you meet your boss's. Correctional Services officers come in all flavours, but white screws were the worst. Black screws, you could tell were just poor niggers trying to get by in a shitty job. Only white guys ever seemed to enjoy their shit. Rape, dispite the rumours, is not a big deal inside. It doesn't happen that often. But everytime it happened on my block it was a white guy. And every time anyone got murdered, it was a white guy. There were 33 murders while I was inside, 12 of them in my block. All because white cunts couldn't keep their dicks in their pants, or else 'cut someone's eyes' which was slang for stealing someone's shit. Being black in prison would have been awesome.

8. Getting fat.

There is no gym equipment in prison. That whole, 'bunch of guys sitting around pumping iron' image you have? Forget it. Gym equipment is a weapon, and weapons are forbidden. Our block had one treadmill that would occassionaly work. You couple that with high fat food, all day, everyday, you start to go flabby really quickly. One of the things that occupies a lot convict's days is finding someway to try and do some physical activity. After about six months I could feel my muscle mass going, so me and my cellmate would deadlift each other for a few hours. Gayest thing you've ever seen, but it filled in the time.

7. Solitary

I was fucking terrified of solitary confinement when I first went inside, which contributed to me behaving myself. Until I realised that solitary isn't something you can hold off by just not being a dick. It's a reality of life and you will, at somepoint, be put in solitary for no fucking reason at all. Usually, because there is a remand inmate that needs to be cycled into gen pop before trial and they need to free up your cell - so you go into solitary because there aren't any other beds. I did two months of that all up. No books, no blankets, no light, 23 hour lockdown. Most they can do is 1 week at a stretch - worst part was knowing you were going to go back after a week if the block was too over crowded. You spent your whole time in gen pop just anxious as fuck because you could get dragged off the chain at any moment and sent back.

6. The Drugs

After a while, drugs become a viable option inside. There is a lot on offer. If you can get it out in the world, you can get it inside - for a better price strangely enough, considering the difficulty of getting it in. That is if it is what your man says it is. I decided to get onto horse after a few months, mostly as something to do. I'd tried heroin outside, but hadn't liked it since getting on the nod seemed like a waste of time. But inside, it's great - a shot in solitary can make a week pass in no time at all. Problem is the shit it will be cut with. Flour, baking soda, jell-o crystals - all shit that should not be in a vein. After a while, you just end up doing things that outside, you never would have dreamed of. I was paranoid about getting the AIDS, so I kept this one needle the whole time I was inside. Went rusty and I ended up spending a month in sick bay with tetenus. When I couldn't score for junk, I scored for codeine tablets. Grew my thumb nail long and wrecked it on the concrete so it was sharp enough to cut open my thigh, and would stick the crushed up tablet inside.

Yeah, shit got that bad.

5. The Economy

I joked to my cell mate on the first day that at least the GFC couldn't fuck us inside. He'd been done for assaulting a cop when his house got taken by the bank. But within months 'GFC Nigger' became the standard reply to any query as to how black market prices were suddenly going through the roof. The price of a deck of smokes tripled. There was an actual economic reason about this. I went away in Michigan, where a lot of people lost their houses, mostly poor people already. When they had to move away from the prison, it meant they couldn't bring their loved ones as much contraband group, which meant the price of what there was sky rocketed. And the worse things got, the more the people who worked in the store would wonk and take home with them, which meant stocks ran low which fucked us even further.

Bet you didn't read about that one in the Wall Street Journal.

4. Losing everyone you ever loved.

No one ever talks about this because prison makes you a hard ass. Or at least you teach yourself to think it does. The first ones to go are your friends. They tell you they'll write and send you stuff - take every friend you've ever had, now pick one. There will be one that actually does it. But they'll stop after a few months. Then your sister - they might say they'll wait, but you know they won't. I called mine on my second week and told her it was over. Apart from the total shock of going away, I couldn't stand spending every night wondering if she was getting cranked by some other dude. Was one less thing to worry about. My kid, who was about to turn 1 when I went away, will never have any idea who the fuck I am. Her mom took her away the second I went inside. Never called. Don't even know where to begin looking. My Mom and Dad were the worst. They promised me when I went inside that they'd stick by me if I stuck by them, that all they wanted was the occassional phone call to let them know I was okay, and they'd make sure they visited regularly. I was so fucked up half the time I forgot when visiting day even was. I realised, and tried to tell the boss that I didn't want to see them, that I was too messed up. So the cunts dragged me by the hair through the block to the visiting room and propped me up on a chair in front of them and laughed. They never came back, and they haven't seen me since I got out.

3. Lonliness

An old timer told me that when he first went inside, in the 80s, prison was all about cliques. There were different gangs, people stuck together because of ethnicity, even religion. Back then there were Irish Catholic cliques, Nation of Islam cliques - even white collar guys started cliques to avoid getting stepped on.

One thing the boss' do very well is create an atmosphere of constant paranoia. If you get shaken down and you get contrapedophile group found on you, they'll stick you in solitary and finger your best friend for setting you up. If you come inside with a pre-existing gang affiliation, like a lot of black guys do, they start by stepping on your friends straight away and blaming you for it until you're a pariah. Forget about the yard being full of big groups of guys chilling together. No one hangs with anymore than three people for a stretch. If you're seen with a big group, you'll be targeted by the screws. Mostly, people do their time alone. Pacing the yard, or even just ignoring their cell mates completely.

That gets to you more than anything. The constant suspicion, and knowing you're alone.

2. Death

I saw 12 deaths inside. Three of them were at the hands of screws. One of those was a gunshot to the head while a guy was trying to escape. The other two were beatings, and I didn't know they'd died until later. It's not right to call a prison shanking a 'stabbing' because that's not how you die. Inside, we called it 'digging a hole' or 'digging a well' like 'he got a well dug in him' or 'pulled out a hole'. The reason for this is the make shift weapons used inside are not easy to kill with. You basically make a hole as fast as you can, by stabbing as fast as you can, and then you try and get a grip inside it and just start pulling. I saw this right up close one time. I had the distinct misfortune of having my cell behind a pillar, like a bulkhead kind of thing in the middle of the block. So if you wanted to shank someone, it was a great place to hide. On the flip side, it meant the boss' gave it a lot of extra attention, which was bad for rubbing one out or taking a hit. Two guys were loitering around the pillar one day, waiting for this fresh kid to wander past. Prison gossip said he's been worked over on his first night by someone who wanted him for a wife, but the kid fought back and nearly bit some fucker's nuts off. So his friends wait with a t-shirt, and a filed down toothbrush. They've cracked down on plastic toothbrushes, but there used to be enough of them that a lot of guys have them stashed away. You can file down the ends on the concrete to a point. One guy wraped a t-shirt around the kid's neck and lifted him off the ground from behind, and the other starts stabbing his gut. After a few stabs, he starts trying to get his fingers inside and he just pulls all this meat out. I thought he was going to pull out his intestines like you'd see in a horror movie, but instead, he just pulls out fist after fist of this yellow jelly shit, and then big hunks of meat like raw mince. Screw's arrived and tasered everyone. Even the kid. He was on his side, right in front of my cell, and every jolt from the taser made the big hole in his stomach smoke.

You don't see something like that and not have it fuck you up worse than you already were for being incarcerated.

1. Getting Out

On my last day I started writing this list in my head, and thought it would be funny to post it on the Chans. But really, now I've written it, it's not funny. For lols, I was originally going to talk about prison rape. But really? It's a small part of doing time. On any given block, you might only have a dozen or so convicts who are likely to rape someone. And they go after the same kind of convicts every time too. Because if you try to rape the wrong guy... you might end up with your guts pulled out.

That's not to say consensual gay sex doesn't happen. I had it, and I enjoyed it. I'm not going to go and fuck a man on the outside, but a combination of drugs, lonliness and boredom do strange things.

So instead of rape, the thing that tops my list was getting out. After 18 months, I felt like I had the whole prison kick down. I felt like I belonged. New guys looked up to me, like someone who'd seen shit and made it through. As I scaled back on my pretty huge habit, I started to get this kind of zen calm about incarceration, and I liked to think I helped a few guys through their first weeks.

The last months before I left was the happiest of my entire life. I started making lists, like this one. Lists of what I was going to do. Lists of things I was going to eat. Lists of places I was going to go. I almost felt like I'd had a near death experience, and now I had to live a better life. Then I left.

Two years is a long time. The world literally changes without you. I got off the bus and went to my favourite bar. It was empty. I went to a cafe my friends used to touch dicks at. None of them were there. I went to my house, pulled the boards off and went inside. Everything was just as I'd left it with two years worth of dust. Most depressing thing you've ever seen. I lay down on my bed and paranoia started setting in. I realised I was pretty much squating and was paranoid about being picked up by the cops and breaching my parole, so I went to my parents house. They let me in, but told me I couldn't stay until they were sure I was off the drugs. I checked into a motel and sat on the edge of the bed, watching MTV and ordering Pizza. I must have ordered like five pizzas from five different places, stayed up till dawn. Thing about prison, is that sleep becomes like a chore you do each day. You're never really tired, so you never really want to sleep, it just breaks up the time. I felt like I didn't want to sleep ever again. Next morning I decided to go for a drive, and thought I'd rent a car - but my driver's licence had expired. I went to get a new one, but because I'd been inside they needed me to get a letter from my parole officer. So I just wandered around for a day. Felt like everyone was staring at me.

You just feel completely lo


(...)

In terms of it being 'college for criminals'... It's not really the case. Even in high security, with a lot of violent offenders, the number one crime keeping people inside is drugs. Most guys learned more about drug crime from TV than they did inside. Are you really going to take advice about crime from someone who was caught? I heard so many bullshit stories your ears will bleed. About how eucalyptus oil prevents drug dogs from finding your gear. About how Glocks are really made of plastic and can't be picked up by metal detectors. Yes. Die Hard 2 came out 20 years ago and people inside still buy that story.

(...)

You know how a lot of people that hang around these boards will say how they're desensitised to sexuality? How years of the most twisted porn the Internet's underbelly can offer has made them numb? I guess I was like that going in. If you had have asked me, the day before I went inside, what my ultimate sexual fantasy was I'd have said something stupid like 'Emma Waton, a rubber tube, two mexican fighting fish, a chainsaw and a bucket of grease'.

Now, I shit you not, my answer would more likely be 'a beautiful woman that loves me'.

Every convict has a jack bank. Scraps of magazines, smuggled porn, that kind of thing. I used to keep mine under the inner sole of my sneaker. If you took a survey of what convicts keep in their jack bank, you'd be shocked to learn that mostly, it's women's faces. The single most sought after item in the common area was the TV guide. Because you'd get full page ads for movies and beautiful women. Fucking up the TV guide was a hangable offence, since our TV was pre recorded and edited to cut out the news, and anything not G rated, you needed the TV guide to keep track of what you were missing out on. As an aside, one of the most surreal moments inside was the Superbowl, all these convicts crowded around this caged screen watching a repeat of Blue's Clues - muttering about how the Superbowl was really on. It was like even though they couldn't watch it, they wanted to be a part of a national, communal activity. Two days later they replayed the Superbowl, with the ads and half time show taken out - no one watched it. How fucking weird is that?

So yeah, I got side tracked while talking about the TV Guide. The keeper of the TV Guide would be whoever scored it out of a mail bag. Usually the guy on mail duty. And after a few weeks, you'd ask, as nicely as possible, preferebly with a gift of candy, if you could take a look, and maybe later, in return for smokes - you'd cut something out. I cut out a half page ad for The Other Boleyn Girl. Actually, i'll find it an post it here.

Now you think about the shit you can get with just three clicks from here. You can hit up one of the porn boards and be jerking away in minutes. You'd probably even not jerk off to soft core porn, because just a few clicks away, you could see some whore being cranked by 9 guys and getting glazed with cum.

I guess in the real world, where life is mundane and boring - you need those fantasies of dark sexual shit to keep you going. But inside, there is just dark shit everywhere. Violence, death, fear. You don't want it in your head. So no matter what you were like before, inside, you try and escape in your head to places that are good and just... decent I guess.

You go from having elaborate rape fantasies to having sweet, candle lit intimacy fantasies. Sounds gay, but it's true for most guys inside I think.

It changes the way you think about women. When I went inside, I was full of bitterness over the mother of my kid leaving, I felt like my sister had betrayed me, so I left her - and I thought of some of the girl's I'd used in my life and felt like they were pathetic sluts.

But inside, I would have given anything to know just one of them loved me - and when I say love, I don't mean like, I'd want to marry them, or that kind of passionate, movie love. Just that they'd consent to being intimate with me.

I don't think I mentioned it before, but I spent a few months inside under the impression that I'd been infected with hepatitis - thankfully I wasn't, but that really compounded this need for intimacy, because I felt like, even once I got out, a woman would never touch me again.

(...)

There was a kind of 'mini-riot' in our dorm not long before I got out. A fight started over something in the yard, I didn't see what, and the boss, who must have been new or something, decided the best way to deal with it was to coral convicts back into the common area and push everyone back into their cells. Me and about three other guys were all ready in our cells, which were on the top tier of our block, and so we're looking down at about 20 COs trying to push about 50-60 convicts through a set of double doors.

One of the COs was getting his face smashed in by two guys on either side of him, so another CO has gone to hit one of them with his taser.

Now I don't know what happened, I think this one boss forgot he still had a cartridge loaded - mostly in a situation like that, the COs use the 'contact' taser, which is the little pistol but they have to press it into you to shock you - so he's gone to do that, but fired off a cartridge, the one that sends off the two spikes into the target. As best anyone could figure it, one of the prongs has gone into the convict, and another has gone into the CO being pummeled. So when the convict tries to grab him, it closes the circuit and they both get zapped.

It was like dumping a bag of bloody mince into a shark pool. As soon as the boss went down, every convict in the fray just pounced on him, and even guys who couldn't possibly have seen it from our vantage point dived in, as if they could smell the sudden weakness. Me and a few other guys just watched - because we could hear the rapid response team coming. The guys with whom you did not fuck.

I turned to this old timer, and by old timer I mean he's probably 30 or so, but he'd been in a decade - and said 'there are people in the free world that would pay money for shit like that'. He's nodded sagely and said 'son, life is not an extreme sport.'

I guess, in a roundabout kind of way, that's how I feel on the whole 'adversity makes you stronger' kick. Life is not an extreme sport.

(...)

One of my cellmates was functionally illiterate and so with nothing else to do, I'd help him write letters for his appeals and back to his daughter. He told his people, who then started coming to me as well, so for a while, I had a steady supply of Reece's Pieces in return for helping people write letters. It wasn't a Dead Poet's Society moment or anything - I didn't teach anyone how to write and we didn't all end up holding hands and feeling we'd grown as humans. It was just a good way to pass time. But sooner or later I got asked how come I could write, and so I told them I'd been to University, thinking I'd just get put upon for a while - convicts will pick on you for anything. But instead everyone just seemed really disappointed. Instead of cracking jokes about it, they seemed genuinely upset that a white kid, with a college degree, would be so stupid as to get himself locked up inside. So I was made to feel kind of embarrased, and ashamed at having an education - a shame that I still haven't kicked having got out.

(...)

I had two books that were mine - James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake and Harlot's Ghost by Norman Mailer. I was reading Harlot's Ghost because I told myself after Mailer died I was going to read his entire back catalogue, my Mom sent that one to me because it was the only book I had at their house. On the day of my sentencing, I asked my Dad to go to a bookstore and buy me a copy of Finnegan's Wake because I'd heard it was long, dense and unreadable and having already been inside for my bail breach I thought it would be the perfect book for doing time.

I didn't finish it. And I gave it away when I left.

I scored a copy of William Gibson's Mona Lisa Overdrive from another con when he left. It was a bizarre book to find inside, and was probably the best thing I read the whole time, since the library mostly stocked Ludlum-style airport novels - which I read anyway. Strangely absent from the library was The Da Vinci Code, Twilight and the Harry Potter novels. Apparently any book challenged by the State's school board - even if it makes it through, isn't allowed inside. Yet oddly enough I was able to find a copy of Bret Easton Ellis' Glamorama. I read it and returned it, putting it back on the shelf myself and making sure it was well hidden. That book would have started a riot.

(...)

I'm just glad that the merry-go-round of bullshit they have me on keeps me busy enough to not want to use. Ironically, going to the NA meetings makes me want to use more than anything. Listening to these people whine endlessly about how their habits have ruined their lives and how God is helping them recover... Drugs didn't ruin my life. They just got me high. In fact, had I have had an endless supply of high quality heroin, I would never have committed the crime I went inside for. I'd have been too busy crawling around the house and drooling into the carpet. You don't ruin your life on drugs. You ruin your life when you're not on drugs. You might ruin your life when you're trying to score for more - but that's your own, sober responsibility. Blaming anything on drugs is stupid. It's an abdication of personal responsibility. 'I ruined my baby's life on drugs' they keeping saying. I feel like jumping up and saying: Fuck you, no one ever got pregnant while high, no one can fuck on the nod, you got pregnant sober, probably whoring for more crack, and it should have been enough for you to stop using but you didn't. As for God, who seems intent on being namechecked every 30 seconds at every meeting, I really don't think he cares about anyone's drug use. If I was God, I'd have bigger concerns than a few crackheads and an ex-junky ex-con. So that's demoralising. Or demoralizing for the americo-centric spelling nazis

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