Your first day in prison is sure to be eventful no matter what you do. However, that doesn’t mean you should waltz in there looking for trouble… or make the mistake of telling people when your birthday is. These former inmates share the stupidest thing a new prisoner did upon entering their world.
#1 Going Swimming
I once told a new kid that there was a pool out in the yard. One of the guards saw him waiting to go out in shorts with his shower towel and asked him what he was doing. The kid said, “I'm gonna go swimming outside. It looks nice.” I don’t think I've laughed so hard in my life. That move is unoriginal but always funny.
#2 Protective Custody
I worked as a Corrections Officer and a guy got busted for assault of a minor. He figured everyone else in the tank was on similar charges, so he began talking openly about it, feeling he was safe. We had to subdue five guys who jumped him in the rec yard. The guy was sent to the hospital as he was fairly unresponsive. He was sent to protective custody after that.
#3 The Toughest Guy
This one kid came in and, I assume he has watched a lot of movies because he figured he'd fight the biggest guy on the range. I honestly don’t know what he was thinking — maybe that he’d come out on top and would look tough to the other inmates. Well, he wasn't even the toughest guy in the hospital he woke up in.
#4 Don’t Tell Anyone
I’ve never been to prison myself, but this happened to a guy I know. His cellmate was a young 19-year-old kid. The kid was confused and in the course of talking about their lives, admitted he was bisexual. The guy I know then told him, “Hey man, that’s cool but don’t tell that to anyone else in here. Seriously.”
#5 Getting Out
This one guy literally told everyone how he was going to escape and showed off all the tools he was using. There was a mole — a snitch. Within hours of him trying to saw his way through the bars with the threads of the waistband of his underwear, we were searched and he was removed. In all fairness, he was awaiting trial and looked over 50 years old.
#6 Previous Encounters
Not shower for weeks. I had a hunch that he had previous encounters in his life that made him worried about being around naked men. He got his clothes ripped up and he was thrown half-naked into the showers. They also tuned him up pretty good. They turned the showers on and told him to wash until he didn’t stink up our block anymore.
#7 Can I Borrow This?
Kid gets booked in, hits the unit and starts borrowing food and other commissary items. Before he knew it, he was $200 in the hole. The problem is, in jail and prison, most people who loan items out expect two or three of the same item back. You know, interest. It’s a very easy way to get yourself indebted is by borrowing any food or other items. Never get in debt while incarcerated.
#8 Not the Brightest Bulb
I was never a former inmate, but I used to work as a corrections officer. This one dude came in on substance charges. The first thing he did upon walking into the pod was loudly announce that he got contraband past the “idiot” in the intake. He said it loud enough that I could hear him. Yeah, not the brightest bulb, that one.
#9 Mind Your Business
This one hippy-type skinny kid got busted with some grass. Someone else on the range was getting beat up for something or other and the kid tried to intervene. He literally just said, "Hey, leave him alone." Yeah, he got beat within an inch of his life when he in the shower. Pro-tip: in jail, mind your own business.
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#10 Calling Grandma
This one guy collect called his grandma and just cussed her out because she didn’t want to put her house up for collateral to bail him out. He was shut out from having access to any of the goodies inmates were able to get. Baldwin County in Alabama is quick to add charges and extend your stay to keep that headcount up.
The jail was all about barely meeting requirements and keeping as much money as possible coming in. They were so cheap that they put beans with almost every lunch and dinner. On Saturday and Sunday, they didn’t serve the usual three meals. You got brunch, an early dinner and then a single peanut butter and jelly sandwich around 7:00 p.m.
#11 Wet Floor Sign
A slight twist: we had a pink “Wet Floor” sign that we would put up in the entrance to the showers, so everyone knew there was someone in there having alone time. The fun game was to watch the new guys (myself included) innocently walk into the entrance to the showers that very first time, past the pink sign, and then see him come skittering back out a few moments later.
#12 Telling Everyone
This one goofy-looking kid had curly hair and thick glasses. He came in and, for some reason, befriended me. He started telling me what he did (assault of a minor). I told him not to tell anyone because it'll get him in trouble. The rest of that day and the next (I bailed out by then) I could hear him from across the hall telling other people. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was kicked around a few times.
#13 Rolls of Duct Tape
My father-in-law did 12 years on a second-degree rap back in the very early ‘90s. He told me that one time this new guy plopped himself down at the Hell's Angels table and started eating breakfast. When he was told to move, he ignored them. After breakfast, the officers ended up having to cut through about six rolls of duct tape to get the guy loose. He never sat near those guys again.
#14 Where Are Your Shoes?
My first time in, I went to take a shower for the first time. I got undressed and was about to step in with bare feet when what seemed like six people all started yelling at me. They kept shouting things like, "Put some shoes on, you idiot white boy.” So, yeah. After that, I bought some shower shoes to protect myself and keep everyone off my case.
#15 Immediate Hit List
Not me, but my dad. This guy came in bragging about what he did. Said he was a monster and the toughest guy around and that he could take anybody in the pen. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, he apparently was a pretty big and tough guy. They found out, though, that he was in for heinous things against a woman and her kid. He might’ve been big, but not after five big guys beat the absolute soul out of him. The one thing all prisoners can agree on is that anyone who messes with kids or women are on an immediate hit list.
#16 Quite the Impression
Where I was, they utilized 40mm soft round launchers to respond to group disturbances. Let me tell you, they weren't soft. This one kid came in thinking he was still hard from juvenile hall because guards there didn't do anything when people fought. He decided to join a gang that he knew nothing about on his first day.
He thought he was tough and started to diss the gang they had high tensions with at the time and started a group disturbance. The officers responded and told him to get down, but he refused and cursed at them. Boom, 40mm to his face. (It was an accidental shot to the face according to the CO.) His face was distorted after and he had a fractured skull… on his first day.
#17 Learning Nothing
My dad’s currently convicted and the craziest story he told me is one of the newer inmates was young and arrogant. He was always spouting off about how unaccountable he was. Then one day, another inmate packed up his items, went into the younger inmate’s cell and tried to choke him. The younger inmate was that annoying. He survived and the other inmate is in max. When the younger inmate came back from the hospital, he was still trash talking.
#18 First and Last Day
There was an old myth that if you challenged the meanest guy in your block to a fight everyone else, he would leave you alone. It's true, no one will torment you if you’re deceased. This kid tried it and got dropped off the fifth tier. It was his first and last day in gen pop. Most guys just want to do their time alone.
Most of the bad things that happen are about debt or tax. If you play it straight, 98% of guys will just leave you alone. Messing someone up in the yard makes your time worse, not better. You’ll get a loss of privileges or time in solitary and most people don't want that. Most of the straight-up psychopaths are in 23/1 lockdown anyway. You get in debt or shoot your mouth off and you’ll get settled or taxed, both are to be avoided.
#19 Name in the Paint
This one dude got busted for indulging in some of the devil’s lettuce with two of his buddies. When we were put in the holding cell, one of them wanted to mark the event by carving his name in the paint on the cell door. When we got put in a cell later, they came back and took that guy to solitary for a week.
#20 Quitting Halfway Through
This weird guy named Robert from the TV show 60 days In has a couple of stories that would make your head spin. I think the stupidest story may have been when he covered the prison camera with a sheet. As you can imagine, that didn’t fly very well and he went to solitary for 30 days. He quit the program halfway through.
#21 I Have Rights
This may not have been his first day, but I will never forget this. This happened while I was in the intake tank, which is the first section you go into after being processed in county. This young kid came into county and kept complaining that he didn’t get his cannabinol and other related prescriptions in jail. He was really arrogant and constantly angering everyone.
During count one day, as we were all in our bunks, he started complaining again. He then asked the guard, “What if we all riot?” Immediately, 10 other guys yell, “We don’t know or agree with him!” The guard then said, “What did you say?” The kid continued about rioting and that he had rights. Everyone in the tank stayed frozen in their bunk, trying their best to be non-threatening and also show they have no interest in what this idiot was saying.
The guard picked him up by his throat and slammed him into the wall. After scaring the kid, he explained that he had a new charge for inciting a riot. Ths kid then got hauled off to solitary. I never saw him again, but I heard he spent the rest of his days in solitary. It was absolutely insane to me that he’d say that in county jail.
#22 There’s a Code
Small town folk who are used to being the “biggest and baddest” are the worst. Big-fish-in-small-pond types who think they’re going to be king when they walk in. They usually get dominated pretty quickly. Your best bet if you go to prison is unless you know someone well-connected on the inside, just keep your head down.
Focus on yourself and do your time. It’s going to be boring, menial, and seemingly endless, but you don’t want to get caught up in any gang stuff or start snitching. There’s a code and system in prison that needs to be followed and if you walk in like you’re a king when you’re a nobody, you’ll learn real quick that you’re nothing.
#23 No, I Got This
I saw this in one of those jail documentaries. It was a young man who was about 18. He had no gang affiliation of any kind was in for some kind of minor things. Yet, he decided to try to impress people by lifting weights with them. He tried to do leg presses, but it turns out he couldn't lift 240 pounds and barely got any reps done. The whole gang laughed at him while he was doing it.
#24 Trading Detergent
I found a hypodermic needle in my thin mattress and tried to go give it to the guard. I was bum-rushed by an inmate (whose it probably was) and told that if I had given it to the guard, I would have faced a test and solitary. This was day one. On day three, I asked to trade laundry detergent for a back rub and only after I did so did I realize that everyone thought I was gay. I was a very dumb 18-year-old white girl.
#25 The Top Bunk
A guy came in and got on the top bunk. Within ten minutes, the dude rolled off and smacked his head on the concrete. He started to have a seizure and the guards eventually came and just videotaped him for a while in the middle of the room. Eventually, they walked him out when he stopped, but then he ran into the wall and fell down. He then started to seize again. They just kept filming. Nobody really thought he was having seizures but he hit his head pretty bad, so they took him to the infirmary.
#26 Surreal Scene
I went in when I was a young idiot. Our pod was all bunk beds, no cells. Just the room with beds, and a side room with the TV. It was a unit for all the people working the same job. A new guy came in, this little white dude. He was quiet and kept to himself. But one night, out of nowhere, he started sprinting around the room singing at the top of his lungs to the tune of Black Sabbath’s "Iron Man." For some reason, he changed the lyrics to, "I am the "n-word" man, running through the hood from the Ku Klux Klan."
Everyone was frozen for about 15 seconds, seriously confused. Then someone tripped him and it was just mayhem until the CO could get enough help to disperse the crowd. I remember being surprised he survived. Everyone in the unit had steel toe boots for the job we did. They were holding them and hitting him in with them instead of wearing and kicking. The scene afterwards where all the guys were trying to figure out whose boots were whose and comparing who had the most injuries was freaking surreal.
#27 Bunk Restrictions
I got bunk restriction on one of my first night. Twice a day they did roll call. We all had to sit on our bunk and be quiet while the officer came, checked our wristbands and made sure we all were who we are. Halfway through, he was doing this and someone ripped the loudest, fattest, longest wet air biscuit I’ve ever heard in my life.
Me, having the mind of a five-year-old, burst into laughter, I’d never heard a sound like that in my life. A few other guys laughed. Even thinking of it now I giggle. The officer was like, “All right, settle down” but I couldn’t stop laughing about it. He told me to calm down, but I told him through my tears that I literally couldn’t help it.
I really couldn’t. It was the funniest thing that happened the few days I was in there. He got angry and I tried to explain I wasn’t trying to be rude and disobey him through my laughter, but he isn’t having it. Luckily, he just gave me bunk restriction and didn’t punish everyone. But I could see the TV from my bunk, so I just hung out the rest of the night.
#28 Well-Liked Guards
I’m not an ex-inmate but my mom's friend is a retired prison guard for a max security prison. He'd been there for a long time and a lot of the inmates liked and respected him. There were a few instances where new inmates would try to be difficult or attack him to impress the older inmates. The newbies would get beaten up pretty good and wouldn't cause trouble for him anymore. Don't mess with well-liked guards.
#29 Establishing Dominance
Here's one from a good friend of mine (we'll call him T) who's spent half his life inside. This guy picked a fight with the local inmates over something minor to establish "dominance.” The guy was European and Europeans were kept separate from locals with good reason. There would be full-scale "gang wars" between the two sides now and again. None of his fellow Europeans backed him up. Some of them even jumped in. T doesn't think the guy made it.
#30 Trying to Impress
Pretty much just hearing younger guys lie, trying to impress. Odds are if you’re a real tough guy then you can tell who’s who. The ones who get caught lying are the ones who have the hardest time because trust is low to begin with. I’d say this is mostly for JDCs, but I’m sure that county jails and prisons have the same problem.
#31 That’s My Seat
On my first day inside, I sat down at a table in my block. Some guy came over and said it was his seat. Being young and dumb, I thought “I’m not going to get punked on my first day,” so I told him it was my seat now. He walked away and came back with three other guys and they beat me pretty bad. Believe it or not, I was the one who got the mark for it too. The guard wrote it down as “I initiated the fight.” I spent some time in the hole for it too.
#32 Having Some Laughs
Some guys told a new guy that if he told the guard he was thinking of ending his life, the guard was obligated to give him a cigarette and let him smoke. What really happens is they take away all your stuff, throw you in a turtle suite, and put you on watch for two days in an empty cement room. I hated jail, but I had some laughs in there.
#33 Settling Your Disputes
Former CO here. I was in what’s called the intake building. When people would come in for their first day I would hold their papers all official-like, put my shoulders back and loudly announce, “Gentlemen, line up! Toes on the line! Welcome to building five. You will remain in your cell for two weeks. Your property will arrive within one week. If it doesn’t, you may then let me know. At this prison, disputes are settled in the yard with a dance-off competition. If you have an issue with someone, let us know and we will provide cardboard. Now everyone, on the count of three, you will do ten jumping jacks.” Occasionally, a first-timer would do one jumping jack and everyone would laugh.
#34 Court Dates
I wasn’t in prison, but jail. I was getting put in irons with a tiny little dude next to me, going to a court date. He looked at me and said incredibly loudly, "What did you do?" I looked at him and said, "We’re going to our arraignments. Are you stupid?" It's sad when the corrections officers and deputies laugh out loud.
#35 Keeping Relatively Safe
Don’t talk. Book in, shut your mouth, be where you’re supposed to be and don’t touch anything that isn’t yours. Don’t ever gossip either, I can’t stress that enough. There’s no 100% way to stay safe but the above is about the best you can do. A standard dumb thing is people either trying to be a tough guy or thinking they’ve got a friend. Both roads lead to the same end more often than not.
#36 Santa’s Sack
An older inmate, like 60 years old or so, brought in a Santa’s sack-sized bag of food items acquired from the canteen from cell block B into block C. Block C was the good behaviour unit. He was hoping it would buy him immunity. The news got around within minutes that he was in for battery of his ex-wife and he then got rolled for the sack of goodies. The guards looked the other way and laughed.
#37 Body Tattoos
A female lieutenant was checking body tattoos as part of the intake process. One dude was a pretty boy and tatted head to toe. She was writing all of his tats down, seeing if any of them were gang-related or anything. Then, the dude just straight up dropped the jumpsuit. (I'm sure he had tattoos on his tube steak). He caught a major disciplinary case his first hour into TDCJ this was in Huntsville at the Holiday Unit.
#38 Clapping and Laughing
Just a funny one: telling new guys to get their mattress stamped. They’d come in and we’d tell them they had to bring their mattress up to the guard and get it stamped with their name and bunk number. They went up to the bubble, mattress in tow, and the guards told them there was no such thing. They turned around to 100 dudes clapping and laughing.
#39 What a Shock
He admitted that he was in for assault of a minor. It was about 8:00 p.m. and we found out that he would not stop having alone time in his cell. He was 22. And it was jail, not prison, so at that moment, we had maybe 12-15 people in our cell. Some guy woke up from a nap and thought he was having a seizure, so he went to go check on him. What a shock they both had.
#40 Birthday Punches
I'm going to go a different route and tell two stories that ended without anything serious. The first is when this kid, maybe 19 or 20, in our 40-man tank told everyone when his birthday was. They made sure to mark it down. In jail, you don't get birthday pinches or tickles. None of that silly stuff. You get birthday punches. He looked like a walking bruise the day after.
The second is this guy who was like 40 years old. He was kind of fried and had obviously never been incarcerated bef
ore. Anyway, he came into the showers without wearing his slides. To make things worse for him, there were about 20 of us in there showering at that time. So word spread quickly and he got so much trouble for it.
#41 Bartering His Bunk
Saw a guy barter his bunk for a piece of cake. It was a crowded jail with around 60 people and 48 bunks. The new folks had to toss sleeping pads on the floor and deal with it, and one new guy “bought” a bunk for his dessert from lunch. After the cake had been eaten, a guard told the new guy that the inmates don’t get to decide who gets a bed and he’d given away his cake for nothing.
#42 Hearing Demons
I'll never forget there was a guy that came in. I had already been in for about five months at that point and I guess it was just too much for him. The first thing that he did was go to the buzzer and tell the officers that the demons were laughing at him and telling him to do things. They promptly sent him to the psych isolation ward where he was naked in a cell for 72 hours with nothing but a safety blanket. When he returned, the demons had coincidentally left him.
#43 Earning Respect
I've seen a lot of stuff in the 16 years I did. Maybe one of the stupidest things is there’s a myth that you go in and try to run up to fight the first and biggest guy you see to make a name for yourself. I was actually fresh at the time myself and one of the guys I came in with tried to do that with a big black guy. He got put in the hospital. He also didn't get the respect he was looking for because the guy he tried to beat up was well-respected and a lifer.
#44 Very Hard Time
I'm the one who did the stupidest thing ever. I forgot there was a bag of grass in my pocket when I got booked into jail. I live in rural KS. I went from going for just a couple hours to looking at two years of a very hard time, all in less than five minutes. My lawyer got smuggling a controlled substance into a federal facility plea down to misdemeanour possession. But it was a very scary trial. I almost ruined my life because I was too stoned to remember to check my pockets. Horrible.
#45 Providing Commentary
I did a year a while back and saw some really stupid stuff quite frequently. Two guys were having a pretty heated argument and there was a young kid nearby who was only doing three months for violating his probation. He watched the argument and started talking smack on the side. Both guys dropped the argument and one of them proceeded to beat the kid. They beat him so badly that he needed reconstructive surgery.
#46 Boiling Sugar Paste
Not me but my uncle was in Silverwater in Australia. A new guy, in his mid-30s was in for indecent assault of a minor. People found out pretty fast why he was inside. A few of them got a bucket, filled it half full with as many sugar packets as they could find and filled the rest with boiling water. They essentially made a paste of boiling sugar. That guy then caught it in the face. My uncle told me it reminded him of Watchmen . It was gnarly.
#47 Yard Restriction
I went to a PWC outside Atlanta for a few months and this dude kept getting store loaned out and would never pay guys back. He ended up getting beaten so often and “put on the door” in every cell block. He got put on yard restriction by the COs because he owed inmates so much. They knew it was just a matter of time before he got himself seriously hurt. They ended up having to take him to the county and serve the rest of his sentence there.
#48 Too Many Films
Walking into another man's cell without permission, I've seen a few first-timers do it and it never goes down well. That and hanging around the offices and stuff like that because they’re too scared to associate with the inmates. Doing that makes you look shady and is normally typical behavior of a nonce. It’s definitely not recommended. Oh, and not showering because they've watched too many prison films.
#49 It Never Failed
People are always asking what your charges are. The offenders, all the same, were like, “I don’t wanna talk about it.” They would get all anxious about it and never tried to lie. Every time, it never failed. The CO’s wouldn’t tell us straight up but the cooler ones would always confirm or deny. That’s who we knew who to beat on.
#50 Admitting to Solitary
Over the course of a week, a new guy was stealing coffee from his bunkie. He literally could have just asked. The head of the whites told him (in no polite terms) to tell the guard what he did and that he was requesting protection i.e. he was self-admitting to solitary. He spent his entire two months sentence there.