Prison Guards Share The Most Extreme Thing They’ve Ever Seen Happen On Duty
Between TV shows and movies, we all feel like we know what prison would be like. We reckon there’d be drama between inmates, terrible food, and sometimes even corrupt guards who conspire together.
But these real prison employees are here to tell us the truth. They have dedicated their time and energy to protecting and serving the prison population, and with that comes some pretty unbelievable stories. Often, they find themselves in the middle of shocking situations that we on the outside can hardly even imagine.
Between outbreaks of violence towards themselves and other inmates, hidden passions coming to the surface, and unexpected moments of kindness and clarity, these true stories from prison guards will change the way you think of life behind bars.
#1 Tuesday Is Pork Chop Day
My dad was a prison guard in Tennessee. Every Thursday was pork chop day. When you have nothing, you live for the little things.
One day, they ran out of pork chops, and a stupid guard yelled to the back of the line, “They’re all out of pork chops—the rest of you are getting bologna!”
What followed was a minor riot with a six-hour lockdown, two broken bones, and ten people who had to be treated by the nurse.
My mom is a prison nurse. She once treated a dude who swallowed a balloon filled with illicit substances, and it popped in his stomach. He ended up overdosing.
#3 Double Trouble
The worst one that got me was when I cut down a guy who tried to hang himself. I caught him just in the nick of time, and he went into fight mode, swinging at us. We got him to the ground, handcuffed him and pinned him on the floor. He started to cry, begging us just to end him as we tried to keep him from banging his head on the floor. That moment stuck with me ever since.
Another time, I was working for a pod and had someone throw a melted down shoe heel in a soda can at me. Think hot melted rubber. It mainly got on my shirt, so I was fine, but I started fighting with the guy. I had him pinned on the ground with 64 offenders around me. I had lost my cuffs in the fight. Another offender I had known for a while assisted me by handing me the cuffs and holding the guy’s legs down.
The offender who helped me got his time reduced. I wrote him a letter for the parole board and spoke on his behalf. He got out and found a good woodworking job. He writes to the prison with updates on how he is doing. He has a girlfriend and a baby on the way. That’s the happiest story I have of that place.
#4 JLo Brawl
I did a bid in Florida about four years ago. While I was inside, they let my cell block come into the common area to watch the iHeartRadio Music Awards. I would never have watched it on my own, but it was nice to have the distraction. This was the summer that Ariana Grande was nominated for that “One Less Problem” song, and she performed it right before JLo came to the stage.
Now, I’m in with MOSTLY Puerto Rican inmates, so JLo being on was a big deal. Some dude absolutely lost it during the Ariana Grande song… Some of the dudes said he was into little girls or something… He threw a lightweight plastic chair at the TV. I didn’t think it would do much damage, but it busted the LCD. The dudes weren’t gonna get a chance to see JLo, and they wanted blood for it. A 60-man brawl ensued.
All of this to say, amid the insanity, one guy bit another guy’s thumb off.
And swallowed it.
#5 Inmate MacGyver
One inmate had a court date, so he left for the day. Apparently, during his day out, he managed to acquire a loose screw. It wasn’t big or anything; he found it on the floor of the transport van.
Anyway, once back in his cell, he decides to use the screw to drill a hole in the plexiglass window of his door. Mind you, the doors consist of a layer of plexiglass and then steel grating.
He drilled two holes—one at the top and one at the bottom of the two-foot-tall window. He did this between patrols who were supposed to do a walk around every fifteen minutes.
The inmate then proceeded to tear his bedding and ravel it into a string which he fed through the upper hole and back down through the lower hole. Using the friction of the bedding, he literally sawed a giant hole in the plexiglass using nothing but his bedding.
When questioned about it, he informed the guards that this took him roughly 11 hours to accomplish it without a single guard noticing it.
He didn’t escape; as I said, there was still the steel grating. He literally just did this because he “had the spare time.”
#6 Laughter In A Serious Place
I worked in a youth correctional facility. The units were Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, etc… In the Charlie dorm, there was three openly LGBT youth who were way over the top when it came to stereotypical behavior.
Well, one day they were walking down the hall together, saw me in my office, and said, “Hey girl, check this out!” Then the three of them dropped and did the Charlies Angels pose. I laughed my butt off.
#7 For The Love Of Chocolate
A guy tried to smuggle in a carton of chocolate milk That is not a typo. A carton.
#8 My Arm Tastes Better Than Prison Food
My husband is a guard. He was doing the count one night, and there was an inmate who was bleeding. They went into his cell to see what was happening. The inmate had bitten the inside of his wrist and forearm, pulling the skin off down to the muscle and tendons. They rushed him to medical, and he ended up having to be admitted to the psych building after he recovered.
#9 He Survived?
An inmate with mental issues hurt himself open with a sharp object. The line was from below sternum to just below the belly button. He survived, but man it was ugly.
#10 Pen Woes
One prisoner was trying to hurt his cellmate but didn’t have a weapon. So he took a pen, stuck it in the guy’s ear and stomped on it.
#11 Female Player
I have a family member who worked as part of the staff at a state prison in California. There was another staffer who worked there; we’ll call her Samantha. Samantha was an attractive 30-year-old who was happily married and had two kids. She was generally well-liked, and nobody thought her behavior was strange or different.
One day, the prison started having a major issue with cell phones being smuggled in — lots of cell phones. The prison launched a huge investigation, the whole nine yards. In one of the sweeps, they found a love note between one of the inmates and Samantha.
For anybody who doesn’t know, prison guards and staff are absolutely prohibited from any intimacy with inmates. It’s a serious crime that is prosecuted on a frighteningly regular basis.
It turns out, Samantha was not only having an intimate relationship with the inmate who had the letter, but she was having relationships with six other inmates. She was exchanging long love letters with a total of seven inmates simultaneously!
One of the inmates had convinced her to smuggle in cell phones through the dry cleaning inmate work program. They estimate she smuggled in at least 50 phones this way. One of the other inmates she was involved with had been conducting his illicit substances trades from the inside, and he deposited money into her personal savings account so they had money to run away together when he got out. The inmate was serving a 17-year prison term.
When she got discovered, security was tightened considerably. The dry cleaning work program was suspended, and Samantha was arrested. She was eventually sentenced to just over three years in prison.
The craziest thing about the whole situation? Samantha’s husband stayed with her. She got out of prison several years ago, and they are a seemingly happy family once again.
#12 Take A Deep Breath
I used to be a corrections officer. I found an inmate beat up with his neck snapped in the gym one night. I gave him CPR until medics arrived, but he was too far gone.
#13 A Not-So-Dangerous Secret Meeting
My dad was in prison, and the craziest thing he experienced occurred during his first week in. He had been keeping his head down, but one of the other inmates told him to meet him outside by the corner of one of the buildings during their free time outside.
He was hesitant because he didn’t want to get into trouble right out of the gate. He looked toward the corner of the building and saw a small group of guys huddled together. He got even more concerned. Just as he was going to walk away, they noticed him and called him over.
It turns out, the guys were passing around cantaloupe and sharing it.
#14 Tattoos In The Prison Cell
I’m a former psychologist at a Youth Detention Facility.
The kids I looked after were around 15 to 18 years old. A common issue that occurs involves the kids finding sharp objects that they purposely scar their skin with. They basically give themselves prison tattoos using completely unsanitary methods.
Many kids end up being looked at by a nurse because of the extent of the scarring.
#15 Beware: Definitely Cringe-Worthy
I’m currently a correctional facility officer. I work in one of the “reformed” mental health facilities for my state. Basically, we’re a prison with a strong focus on mental health rehabilitation. We deal with some of the state’s worst cases.
I’ve seen a man with a literal hole in his body from his chest to below his belly button. He put it there himself. He would enlarge the hole slowly over time. He was the longest four-point restraint inmate in the state’s history.
#16 Drop The Beat, Now Take a Listen
I was in jail for eight months, and I met two guys who really should have been in a mental hospital. One guy was schizophrenic and thought that his dead brother had been implanted into his chest. He also believed that he had circuit boards in his skull which received signals from an orbiting satellite. He was locked up for possessing burglary tools. The court had ordered his admittance to a mental institution, but there were no available beds, so he just sat in jail waiting to be transferred.
There was another kid who had a serious split from reality. He was in for stealing a car that had been left running while the workers were doing road work. He constantly talked; just this incoherent nonsense every minute that he was awake. Stuff like, “Ah, they say the world is coming. Do you think the Facebook people will arrest me for talking to a girl I like? Okay, we’re going to drop the beat now, take a listen. Everyone needs to know what they’re talking about, so grab a chair and listen up. The sensei said it’s time to practice, but I’m not going to get caught walking around town. Time to flip it over and bring it around….” Just on and on, every single minute, non-stop. The guys who were in the cells adjacent to his went nuts because they couldn’t read or sleep with his constant nonsensical monologues in the background.
He would frequently walk around the cafeteria talking on his ID badge like it was a phone. I talked to him a few times, and he could bring himself back to reality, but it was a real struggle. He refused to shower or take his meds because he just didn’t trust them. Most of the guys felt sorry for him, but wouldn’t get too close either.
#17 The Hits Keep Coming
I responded to a fight in the shower. An inmate pushed the other inmate over the bench in the middle of the showers, jumped on him, and bit off his chin.
I was also the trip officer that day, so I ended up escorting him to the hospital. On the way to the hospital, the ambulance hit a deer. It had bounced from the ambulance strike and ruptured in mid-air, exploding all over the front of the van. The van was damaged but still drove.
When we got to the hospital, the doctor didn’t sanitize the piece of chin or anything; he just sewed it back on. A few weeks later, the guy got gangrene, and his chin fell off. He almost died from an infection. That was a crazy day.
#18 Inmates Still Think Kittens Are Cute
I teach in a minimum-security male prison. The security level imposed on an incarcerated person doesn’t correlate directly with the crimes they’re incarcerated for; it’s more about their public safety risks. What that means is that my class of minimum-security guys has all sorts of offenders in it. Our class is held a few times a week in a separate building than the main prison.
My most extreme story is one from springtime. It couldn’t have been a more gorgeous day, and everyone was chatty about it. Suddenly, a bit of commotion brewed in the back of the class. “Hey, teacher lady!” I headed to the back of the trailer to check things out—everyone was gathered around a window.
At that moment, I saw what they could see: a mother cat and her three kittens trotting across the yard and settling in under some daffodils for a nap. A collective “aw” rose up from the trailer. It was quickly covered up with abrupt subject changes and class questions, of course. I can’t help but smile every time I think about it.
#19 So Much Blood
Working in the ER, we had a prisoner come in. He was unconscious and covered in blood. We got him cleaned up and counted at least 12 stab wounds to his head and face. They were shallow, but the force caused the wounds to look like gashes, so stitches or staples were out of the question. He had even more wounds on his arms from trying to cover his head during the attack. We couldn’t save one of his ears, and he was still unconscious when I clocked out.
The prisoner was transferred to a trauma center the following morning. He had multiple fractures and spinal damage. Apparently, he was a snitch and got jumped by other prisoners.
#20 Did The Demon Survive?
Back when I worked in the industry, a guy disemboweled himself essentially to get a “demon” out.
#21 Head Explosion In The Gym
My dad was an officer in the prison service for a couple of decades. One time, there was this 16-year-old kid who was about 6’4″ and built like a tank. He also had a bit of a temper. While my dad was supervising the gym workout, he looked over toward the benches, and the kid picked up a 34-kilogram dumbbell.
He lifted it above his head and started to swing it down onto another inmates head who was laying on one of the benches. My dad managed to sprint over, grab the kid and pin him against the wall, just in time to stop him from ending the other inmate. At this point, my dad was thinking, “If this kid wants to fight, he is probably going to win,” but luckily he had a good reputation, so the kid didn’t fight him.
If he was able to carry through with that swing, that inmates head would literally have exploded. There would have been no other outcome than that.
Nothing ended up happening with the kid. The Prison head didn’t deem it to be much of an issue because no one was hurt. My dad brought the dumbbell into the meeting to show her. She didn’t care.
#22 That’s An Extreme Reaction
On my first day there, a riot occurred because some dumb prisoner thought it would be funny if he stole a book from another prisoner and blame it on someone else. Long story short, the guy who was blamed had all four of his limbs broken and his face beaten to a pulp.
#23 It Could Have Been Beautiful
One of my college professors used to teach at a prison. She was a Portuguese literature teacher in Brazil.
She was teaching the inmates about poetry, and it was close to Mother’s Day, so she told them to write a poem about their own mothers. This was in a very impoverished area, and she told me that all of the inmates were illiterate before she started with them.
One of the inmates wrote a beautiful poem about his deceased mother, who was hurt right before he was arrested. He was arrested for ending his father, who had ended his mom just moments before. All the inmates started clapping and whistling because it was so beautiful and heartbreaking, but then the guards went nuts thinking they were messing around and started beating the inmates so they would shut up. Classes were canceled after that.
My professor said it was all very shocking. It was a pure scene with people bonding and learning and the guards resorted to violence without even thinking. She never went back to teach at a prison again.
#24 It’s Not All Bad
This is taking the word “extreme” to a different level. When I was a prison guard, I worked in the kitchen. I tried to be firm, fair and consistent.
Somehow, a few of the prisoners found out it was my birthday, and towards the middle of my shift, they had brought me to a table where a four-layer industrial size cake with pink frosting had been sitting. I was touched. They told me to get my piece before everyone else did, and not even 10 minutes later it was gone.
#25 Changes Happen So Fast
One of my former teachers used to provide mental health services in the county jail.
She said the worst thing she saw was an inmate who went insane. He was usually quiet and polite, but at one point he got in one small fight and was moved to the max. It was then that something in him snapped. By the fourth day, he lost control of himself and started singing nursery rhymes. He was taken away by ambulance and was never seen again.
#26 Happy Ending?
On my first evening on the job, we had the largest riot the facility had ever had. Two kids from the same unit attacked and pinned down a staff member by holding a sharp pencil to his neck. They then whistled to the other units, which triggered two other residents to do the same on their unit. (We had two staff per unit: a floater and a supervisor for 40 kids.)
I ended up having to call the police for assistance. They came in with guns blazing, and the kids dropped the attempt damn quick.
#27 Nothing To Do But Plan His Attack
I’m a former prison paramedic. In this prison camp where I worked, inmates worked in a field on what was called a “hoe line.” The inmates were given tools randomly and lined up to work on different tasks.
One inmate marked a tool and every time he got that particular hoe; he worked on sharpening the side of the blade. He then waited until he was lined up next to a particular inmate. When the opportunity arose, he used his sharpened hoe to cut the man’s Achilles tendon.
It turns out, this was all a revenge plot, as that particular inmate had repeatedly stomped on his foot as they were being moved around the facility. He told the guards that he had been planning and preparing for the attack for over a year.
#28 It Started So Small…
A family member and I used to work at the same prison together. The prisoners knew we were related.
My family member got into a minor car accident and had to take a few weeks off work to recover.
Word got out about it to all the prisoners, and I was constantly asked how I was coping with it.
While one was asking me what happened, we had a lockdown code so everyone had to go back to their blocks.
I came to find out in the incident report that a fight had started because two prisoners heard two different stories on what happened to my family member. They couldn’t agree with each other, so they started punching each other and got the whole block of about 80 guys brawling.
The whole place got locked down for 10 hours.
All because my family member can’t drive.
#29 A Secret Message In The Flowers
My aunt was a psychiatrist in a women’s prison in the ’70s. There was a new warden, and he was as terrible as they come. One of the things she instigated was a work program to help landscape a garden for the prison. Naturally, a number of the prisoners decided to sign up. However, it wasn’t until after they’d signed up that they found out that it was replacing their usual recreation time, meaning they had no more breaks, just more work.
The warden was insistent that she have a flower garden for the prisoners to enjoy as it would be “calming” for them. It just so happened to be facing her window. So, diligently, the lady prisoners worked and planted flowers, ready for the coming spring.
When spring came, the warden had been on a two-week holiday. She came back to a lovely view from her office window: “F*** OFF!” spelled with Begonias, spanning about 10 feet high.
#30 Lots Of Hitting
I was a corrections officer about 18 years ago at a maximum penitentiary for 14 to 24-year-olds. It was insane to me that such young kids could be locked up with adults.
We had a lot of construction going on in prison and, they would often bring in older convicts to do the work.
One day, a young guy started talking badly to an older guy. The older guy hit him in the face with a coffee pot — lots of cuts and lots of burns.
Another time, one of the construction guys snuck a welding rod back into the prison and used it to stab another inmate. I’ll never forget that. I couldn’t tell who the victim was because of the amount of blood. Surprisingly, he survived.
I was personally involved in a few extreme situations. Once, a group of five inmates jumped me. The first one hit me in the back of my head and I went blind for a second. I couldn’t get my bearings but I knew I needed to get to the unit door so the guard upstairs could let me out and lock them in. I ran for the door covering my head and luckily got out. When I was trying to shut the door—which was a large steel door with bolts that shot out to lock it when it got close to being closed—I shut one of the inmate’s feet in it. It crushed his foot. I don’t know if they were able to save his foot. He was transferred from the hospital to another facility.
#31 Not Enough To Eat?
I was a prison nurse. I had to respond to a cell fight where one man bit off another man’s nose.
The most extreme one I heard though was from a doctor I worked with: “My first patient ate her own eyeball.”
#32 Just A Long List Of Violence
I’m a formerly incarcerated person. I’ve seen a couple of pretty terrible things:
One guy was knocked unconscious with an aluminum bat during a softball game over a call at first base. The guy’s head sounded like a watermelon getting crushed.
A few months after, during one workout period, someone dropped a one-hundred-pound weight on someone’s face.
There was also another inmate who was beaten so badly his eyelids were hanging off his face.
I could go on and on…
#33 You Can Never Erase This From Your Memory
I work at a women’s prison. A woman who was severely mentally ill decided to remove both her eyeballs.
The officer said they entered her cell and just saw her eyeballs hanging from her sockets. There was blood everywhere. I didn’t even see it, and I still get the heeby-jeebys.
#34 Getting Stabbed Is Nothin’
The most extreme thing I’ve seen was one of my fellow officers almost getting stabbed in the neck with a pen. Luckily, it hit his cheekbone and ricocheted up behind his left ear instead. He’s a tough guy who’s been through much worse, so he was back at work the next day like nothing happened.
#35 A Different Kind Of Extreme
I was involved with giving a convict the news that his father had died. He was stoic as he talked to his mother over the phone. After leaving the warden’s office, I escorted him back to his cell. He stopped in the hallway and asked, “Boss, is it okay to cry?” I said of course. We paused for about five minutes, and he let it out.
#36 I’d Say No
In my prison, there is an area next to the nurse’s station where inmates suspected of having a meltdown are kept. It’s a special observation area where the med staff is close by. One Valentine’s Day, I was on that post and the nurse on duty was a pretty decent looking woman in her late 20s. We’ll call her Jennifer.
While I was doing the rounds, she comes running out of the special observation area. I asked her what was wrong but she just ran past me into the bathroom. It turns out, an inmate had taken his #2 and written, “Jennifer, be my Valentine” with a big heart around it on the window of his cell.
#37 Don’t Underestimate Anyone
I’ve been a nurse at a women’s prison for a year or so.
One time, an inmate “cut the line” for her bunk’s microwave and put her ramen in. She got that microwave to the face about 30 seconds later.
I had a psych inmate who chronically swallowed things. Forks, batteries, hair barrettes, sharp objects…
Most of the prison was bunkhouses, but some of our older areas had actual cells. I had an inmate not come out for like, two weeks. After so long, we had to do an extraction, where the guards suited up in protective equipment. I laughed at first because it was like an 80-pound woman against four dudes in near-riot gear.
Then my jaw dropped because she took them on and nearly won.
#38 But It Was A Dog!
I used to visit jail once a week with my golden retriever, Cooper, who’s a therapy dog. On any normal day, I would be asked to smuggle something in for my next visit. I never complied.
Anyway, my last visit there was around lunch time. I entered a cell with five or six inmates who were South Side Los Angeles gang members. Inmates always made the craziest concoctions of sauces and my dog bolted for a glob of a sauce that was on the ground. After he ate it, the whole cell erupted saying, “Cooper is South Side! Cooper is South Side!” That chant spread to the rest of the cells on that row and then to the rest of the seven levels of cell rows (about 150 inmates). The jail went into riot prevention and a lockdown ensued. Cooper was then listed as a gang-affiliated citizen and we were no longer allowed to visit.
#39 Unusual Tattoo Method
My first job out of college was at a maximum secure juvenile facility. We had a male in a lockdown isolation cell. He was checked on every 10 minutes or so. In between checks, He pulled his big toenail completely off then carved the names of his family members in his skin with the toenail. He carved all over his chest, face, and legs. That was almost 20 years ago and it still haunts me.
#40 Brave? Or Stupid?
My dad was a warden for years. He opened up a prison that was developed by a for-profit incarceration company, and it was in quite a terrible state when my dad was brought on. Even the construction had problems; you could see from the men’s showers directly into the women’s showers and vice versa.
Anyway, the week the facility opened, my dad’s assistant comes into his office.
“You’ve gotta see this, Tom.”
“See what? I’m busy, Bob,” my dad replied.
“You really have to come down and see this,” insisted Bob.
My dad went down to the block, and inmates weren’t EXACTLY rioting, but they were all out of their cells, refusing to follow orders. My dad’s green staff was cowering in the control room. There were 300 inmates pressing into the doors, getting loud and rowdy.
All of the instigators were at the front of the crowd, but my dad didn’t engage them AT ALL. He elbowed his way through, went straight to the back where there were inmates who didn’t really participate but just liked to watch the ruckus. The leaders of the pseudo-riot were now stuck on the other side of the crowd.
My dad started shouting commands. “What are you doing out of your cell when we are on lockdown? Get back to your cell for roll call.”
The people at the back started to disperse until only the instigators were left.
My dad is either really brave or really stupid.
#41 No Third Chances
My facility had several cell configurations. This happened in a 24-man tank. There was one inmate that repeatedly stole from the other inmates and was caught red-handed. He was about to get his butt beat when one inmate stepped in to defend him.
He reasoned that since all the stolen items had been recovered, the thief should be cut some slack. The rest of the tank went along with it but decided that if he was caught again, the inmate who defended him would have to take care of it himself.
Inevitably, he stole again within a week. The inmate used a broomstick to break both of his hands and beat him across the face so hard that he broke his nose, cheekbones, jaw, and the orbits of his eyes.
When he was done, he called for the staff to come and get the pile that was left. The guy looked like a male orangutan in the face, with the big flat cheek pads. His eyes were swollen shut, and his tongue was so swollen that he couldn’t fit it in his mouth. The medics had to give him a trach so he could breathe.
#42 Prison Slumber Party
One day at a corrections facility called Norrtäljeanstalten, Sweden, the two guards on duty forgot to lock the doors to the cells. The prisoners broke out, but they didn’t escape; instead, they built a blanket fort, baked a chocolate cake, and watched TV all night until the guards came back to the unit the next morning. The prisoners had full access to knives, forks, spoons and anything you can find in a kitchen, but they decided to just watch TV in a blanket fort and eat cake.
The two guards got some time without pay and a warning since nothing major happened.
#43 No One Saw? Yeah, Right
As I was doing my rounds, I heard a wild shriek coming from one of the cells. One of the inmates was bleeding from his eyes. Turns out, someone had cut his eyelids out. He was sent to the hospital immediately.
#44 Trying To Burn The Prison Down
Two prisoners were shouting and eventually got into a fight, which led to a full out riot. Things got extreme when they ripped a TV out of the wall to get to the electrical cables. They also got bags of toilet paper and used the cables to create fireballs during the riot. Small fires were all over the place.
Even more, all the prisoners used pillowcases with the eyes cut out so they couldn’t be identified.
When the fire department arrived, they tried using the hose to get cellmates back into their cells. It somehow wasn’t working.
SWAT and “pepper ball” officers were also brought in. I was watching from outside and it was quite spectacular.
#45 Fear Of The End
I used to be a prison nurse. I can never forget a breakdown a prisoner had when he was due to be released.
He had been in and out of care as a child and was homeless for most of his adult life. The idea of being released (after a six-month sentence) terrified him. Cue a dirty protest and severe anxiety that resulted in catatonia. He was also a small man, vulnerable, and was taken advantage of by other prisoners at the same time it all came to a head.
I never saw such fear in a person’s face before at the idea of being released.