This is the underground prison economy of solitary confinement

Originally published at: This is the underground prison economy of solitary confinement | Boing Boing


I heard about one guy who didn’t have any family members on the outside to help him pay for basics like toilet paper.

WTAF?! :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:


The us prison systems are barbaric, for-profit businesses that rely on primarily POC and poverty-stricken individuals in general. Add into the mix mentally ill individuals and you’ve got a great pool of raw material for greed infected capitalists to make money from misery. This isn’t to say that really rotten human beings are also in the prison but rich white criminals don’t often end in the cesspool prisons. With all his appalling crimes trump will never see prison. It’s pointless to rant about it, the american people like horrible prisons because “bad people” suffer in them. We americans like bad people to suffer, they deserve it so it will never change. There’s far too much money to be made from human misery and money needs to be respected. If you really want to ruin your day dig into prison rape, teenage boys thrown in and laughed at by the guards. Young men are literally fucked to death in some of these places.
For several years I worked with men on supervised release, parole is the old term. Some of them would talk about what happened, they were still filled with rage and anger at almost everyone and everything but if they can be convinced to direct their anger they will likely survive. The quiet ones filled with shame at being used, they scare me for what they may do to themselves or perhaps others.
I doubt much valid research can be done online. Journals buried in the stacks of libraries are more likely to tell the real stories. A lot of the ugly truth never finds the surface, the stories of boys who didn’t live through their first week. Fortunately blood washes off money easily, hardly ever leaves a trace.


I was in a low-security “pod” in county lockup for like a week-and-a-half once due to red tape around getting my bail secured.

one thing nobody ever tells you if prison culture is not in your background: the only underwear they let you keep is plain white (at least in Knox county, TN). all the guys I was in with weren’t the hard-rock dangerous guys, but they were mostly repeat offenders and the only tshirts and boxers they wore on the outside were white; so if things went south for them, they could keep their undies after they got processed. so anyway, my ass is buck naked under my orange canvas jumpsuit. I wasn’t in long enough to establish a commissary account to buy some underwear, so I was just freeballin’ it.

I don’t remember if I mentioned this and word spread or if the guy sized me up and intuited my situation, but a guy took pity on me and approached me in the common area with a shirt and boxers from his commissary; a pretty rough-looking, middle-aged white guy. bald with scraggly grey hair on the sides, bad teeth. I thanked him and he looked me in the eye and said “Well, if anyone ever asks you, a Klansman gave them to you.”

I was in shock and tried to refuse but he wouldn’t take them back. I was like “just to be clear, I will never have anything to do with the Klan.” he just smiled and said it was alright. possibly my all-time most awkward moment.

I would pass the time drawing a lot and a guy told me he’d buy me some stuff from his commissary if I would draw a portrait of his wife. he already had bought a set of colored pencils and supplied them, some office paper, and a wallet-sized photo of her studio portrait. she had her hair all perfect, the black-lady style where it’s straightened and then styled into layers bent over the top of each other. I remember because white colored pencil doesn’t layer over dark colors the way paint does, so I had to plot out where all the highlights in her hair were and leave them as blank white paper and blacken in her hair around the highlights, which was pretty difficult. but I had nothing but time and I draw pretty well, so I got the whole portrait to come out damn near perfect. I mostly did it to be friendly and have something to do, but the guy gave me a bunch of candy bars anyway, which was cool.


What an awful place to have to live in. Thanks for the story though. I hope things are going well for you now.


Recently read a book about the UK prison system, and it doesn’t sound much better:

Especially as much of the prisons have become effectively ‘solitary’ over the last two years, because the prison service had no idea how to cope with covid.


That’s wild, and they didn’t issue any as part of the uniform?
I similarly spent a few days at a state women’s penitentiary, but the uniform included underwear.
And the fellow prisoners were fine. It was the officials that made it horrible. In addition to other dehumanizing actions, the whole experience was essentially like being kidnapped.
My bail processed in the early afternoon one day. They waited until midnight to eject me, over 80 miles from where they’d picked me up, knowing I had no ID and only a few coins for money. This was pre-cell-phone days and I was 19 years old. And the reason for arrest on the paperwork? Resisting arrest. ACAB.



As other comments here show, the real story should be the horrors of the US criminal “justice” system, not some “interesting” way that prisoners manage to get by.


And then in the women’s prisons…?

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I have no data to back up this supposition, but I’d guess that to be a default item on all arrest records.


Oh, I wasn’t clear. It was the ONLY reason listed.
Like, who the heck wouldn’t resist if there was no reason to be arrested?

And it’s not default on every record. Probably lots of them, esp. POC, but not all.


Yeah, no shit… Christ!




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