Prison is Hell But Not For the Reason You Think

Prison is Hell But Not For the Reason You Think

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The gavel has fallen and you’ve just received
a decade behind bars for a crime you believe was an act of self-defense. You are by no means a hardened criminal, in
fact, you’ve barely been in trouble before. You never, ever thought one day you’d end
up behind bars. You’re suddenly accosted by grim thoughts
of what might happen to you there. Perhaps you’ll be beaten up for being weaker
than others. Maybe you’ll succumb to something awful
in the showers. Will you be reduced to being some frightening
man’s servant? These are the fears that we guess a lot of
people feel initially, but prisoners will tell you there are worse things to fear in
prison. We went online to look at what ex-cons said
about their experience serving time in prison and the things that at times they just couldn’t
handle. While the violence and bullying and exploitation
can certainly get a person down, a lot of former prisoners said those issues weren’t
the worst part at all. Let’s now have a look at what they said:
Living in an Uncaring Environment One prisoner wrote that he didn’t get bullied. He didn’t get his things stolen, and he
wasn’t forced to do what others told him to do. He could hold his own. But this man was a caring man. He didn’t like what he saw, but as things
tend to go in prison you can’t really help everyone. He wrote that he just got caught up in this
world, a world that can be ruthless. He said one day it hit him that he had started
to think this prison environment was normal. He said he thought he was starting to lose
his mind. He was realizing that he was becoming institutionalized;
that he was forgetting his principles. Prison had changed him. He began to think that things such as violence
over a really small issue was ok. He had in fact normalized his environment,
and that began to get to him. Waiting
While prison shows depict prison life as around-the-clock chaos, a lot of prisoners might get involved
in what we might call bad behavior out of sheer boredom. One prisoner said the waiting to be released
is a killer. He wrote, “It’s honestly hard to remember
the months in there because most of the time NOTHING’S HAPPENING. Nothing. You’ve read until you can’t stand it. You’ve slept all you can. You can’t play cards cuz your celly is sleeping.” Another person said this about boredom:
“One of the worst parts of prison life is pure boredom. For the lower-intelligence persons, it is
no problem at all; they can be amused for hours watching cartoons. But for those of us whose IQ is above 90 it
is torture. Mental torture can be worse than physical
torture, and it takes work to keep one’s mind sane and functional for years and years
on end.” Saying that, we also found some prisoners
that had jobs, kept busy, studied, read a lot, and actually made good friends. It’s degrading
One word we saw a lot when reading prisoner stories was “degrading.” Some people wrote that being treated like
a child certainly gets to you. A female former prisoner wrote, “It is degrading
and infantilizing. You are treated in a way that I would not
treat my seven year old; given candy at Christmas and rewarded for spying on others.” Another prisoner wrote that inside people
were not allowed to be adults, that the whole system functioned to dehumanize a person. He said, “If you were a teacher you could
not teach. If you were a lawyer you could not give legal
advice. The second worse was seeing the system as
being built on nothing. People were rewarded for being docile children
who told on one another. It was like a dysfunctional home.” He said rather than rehabilitate people the
system actually tried earnestly to disempower prisoners, to incapacitate them of their intelligence
and humanity. The Temperature
Some people have said if you are in a prison where the weather is hot, the temperature
can really start to affect your mental well-being. If you’ve seen our show on the British drug
kingpin Shaun Attwood who did time in Arizona you’ll know he said he was so hot his skin
started to peel off and he was covered in welts. Another person in a different prison said
it was the cold that got to him. He wrote, “They keep the temperature down
at 60 degrees which means that you have to stay huddled in a corner to conserve body
heat. Because this was observation I wasn’t allowed
to have anything.” The Vera Institute of Justice said the temperature
in prisons is no laughing matter at all, and it can seriously affect a person’s mental
and physical health. Ok, so dangerous people might be lurking around
and on occasions might threaten the prisoner, but the heat or cold are inescapable. The Vera institute said many states do not
have to regulate the temperature, and when the heat rises it only exacerbates the problems
in prison such as anger issues and depression. Worst still, in 2011, ten people died in Texas
prisons from heat-related issues. Many others have fallen sick from heat-related
illnesses. The Vera Institute concluded:
“From melting shoes in Arizona camps, to New Hampshire prisoners flooding cells to
try and cool themselves down, to the videos of air conditioning-deprived incarcerated
people screaming for help in St. Louis. These are all reminders of our desperate need
to ensure that human dignity is protected inside prison and jails.” Life on the Outside
This one should be pretty obvious so we won’t spend much time on it. Prisoners are all well aware that life goes
on. The worst torment for some might be what they
are missing out on. Holiday dinners, birthdays, children being
born. On top of that, you’ll hear a lot of prisoners
saying that having a lover on the outside can be a regular dose of torment, especially
if a visit didn’t go down well. Another prison wrote this, “Someone like
a close family member goes into a hospital or dies, you can’t be there! My grandfather who I loved and looked up to
died my first year in prison. I never had a chance to show him how I finally
turned out.” Prisoners have a lot of time to think about
what is happening on the outside and what might be happening behind their back. It’s not always what is happening to them
that is the problem, but what isn’t happening to them. Sleeping Issues
You’d think you’d have a lot of time to get some Zzzzs while you are in prison, but
some prisoners say that all depends on who you are sharing a cell with… if you share
a cell. One prisoner just 18-years old said he had
to share a cell with a rather burly-looking gangster who you could say was not the kind
of guy you would want to complain too much. The former prisoner wrote that this man snored
loudly every night, and before he got into that routine he would, errr, get to sleep
by fantasizing in his head while utilizing his hand for the purpose of momentary ecstasy. He said he didn’t get much sleep with this
guy in his cell, but fortunately he wasn’t with him long. You’ll find many stories of prisoners asking
for a cell change. You can only imagine what it must be like
sleeping near someone who you believe is out of his mind and dangerous. The Food
Just about everywhere you look online where prisoners are discussing what they hated about
being locked up they talk about the violence, but more often they talk about the bad food. No one seems to like the food inside. But on top of that, in 2015 the Marshall Project
cited an investigation that revealed in one jail in the USA the prisoners were just not
fed enough and they were literally starving. The investigation said that some prisoners
had resorted to eating toothpaste and toilet paper. We kid you not. There are other reports of prisoners losing
so much weight it became dangerous, while some people say more violence occurs when
prisoners are underfed. The Marshall Project wrote that all detention
facilities in the USA should have regulations as to how many calories a prisoner gets, but
it differs from state to state. Some places are much better than others. We saw photographs of trays of food and we
can say that many of them just looked like trays full of slop. The grits and bread meal looked like it belonged
in a Charles Dickens novel. Morgan County, Alabama, was particularly bad
and we wouldn’t wish those trays on our worst enemies. It turned out that in 2009 an official at
that place was arrested himself after police found he’d taken $200,000 that should have
been spent on prison meals and put that cash into his own bank account. We might add here that it should be the criminals
on the inside, but you don’t have to look far to find out criminality also happens in
those who are employed to watch over the prisoners. This can also get a man down. According to an article in The Guardian newspaper
some prisoners in the USA are fed on less than $1.20 a day, so we guess you can’t
get much for that. Critics said that some prisoners would prefer
cat food. Some of you might retort, well c’mon, what
do they expect. Our taxes shouldn’t go to good food for
criminals. But hold on there, because various studies
have found prisons spend way more on healthcare than on food and many of the health issues
are related to nutrition, or lack thereof. We might ask how much bad behavior and violence
can be correlated with overheating, lack of nutrition, and all the other things we have
mentioned. You could say a perfect storm is perpetually
hanging over the prison roof. What You Are in For
It just rankles some people that they think they shouldn’t be in prison in the first
place. Some people do time for being found with cannabis,
a drug that many people think should not be illegal. Legislation in some countries, including the
USA, has changed, but still prisoners are locked up for being caught with this stuff. To those prisoners that feels like an injustice. We found a story of a former cop who went
undercover inside as part of a documentary film to see what prison life was like. This was his conclusion after 60 days inside,
“I couldn’t go to bed at night knowing that if I stopped somebody with a little dime bag
of weed, I were to arrest them and put them in a place like that — I wouldn’t be able
to live with myself.” So, some prisoners might just feel like they
are victims of a faulty system, and no doubt for them just the fact they have been locked
up is the worst thing about prison. There’s also the problem of going into prison
after a small crime and having to protect yourself inside and getting more time. These words are taken from the movie, Shawshank
Redemption, “On the outside, I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook.” The worst thing for a person about prison
might be the fact they end up becoming a real criminal in there. Time is Up
For some prisoners, the end of a phone call or a visit is one of the worst things about
prison. It can be heartbreaking for some people. One guy wrote, “He takes the phone and slammed
it into the payphone holster and abruptly hung up on my daughter. Still breaks my heart because I cherish every
minute I can have with her.” The Noise
Maybe some of you might think if you got locked up you’d just get your head down and read
a lot, and while some people do that, it might also be a problem because of the noise. Some prisoners have said the constant loud
noises are enough to drive someone crazy. Another former prisoner wrote, “There is
nothing quiet and there is no solitude when you are in prison. The sheer number of people in prison prohibits
you from ever finding a moment of peace. Headaches will become your new best friend.” Have you served time in prison? If so, which of these things got to you the
most? If you haven’t done time, which do you think
would affect you the most? Tell us in the comments. Also, be sure to check out our other video
Jail vs Prison – What’s ACTUALLY The Difference?. Thanks for watching, and as always, don’t
forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time.

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