Hopefully You Won’t Need This….A Comprehensive Guide To Prison Life

March 12, 2014 | 2 Comments » | Topics: main

Prison Vs. Jail

In the State of New Jersey, if you are convicted of a crime that comes with jail time, you will

either serve that time in the county jail (in the county the charges were brought up in, not necessarily your county of residence), or a State facility. The difference basically comes down to how much time you’ve been sentenced to.

Anything less than 365 days will be served in the county jail. Anything 365 days or more will be served in a State facility. A lot of times, I see people confusing “jail,” and “prison.” This is the difference (at least in NJ).


A lot of people asked about this. A lot of these comments could probably be attributed to pubescent boys living in their parents’ basements, but I will address this issue anyway. First, let me say that in the 5 years I did in prison, I neither saw nor heard of anyone getting raped. To be fair, though, I will say that prison rape DOES indeed happen, but it wasn’t something that happened while I was there. Because I had a fairly short stay, compared to others, the facility I spent the majority of my time housed inmates doing 10 or less years. Think of it this way: If you know you’re only going to be locked up for ~5-7 years, are you going to just wake up one day and decide to start committing rape to deal with the fact you no longer have access to vagina? I didn’t think so.

Since I don’t feel like re-typing what I had already said in the previous thread, I’ll just copy/paste what I said before: –====I just want to clear something up. The whole rape thing. It seems like that’s all people think prison is all about. When you get sentenced to state prison (in NJ, anything over 364 day is state prison, less than that is served in the county jail), it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be serving your sentence with people serving life sentences.

Before you get transferred from the county jail to the State prison, you go to a sort of “in between” place to get classified called CRAF. In CRAF (Central Reception and Assessment Facility), they decide based on your age/criminal record/length of sentence/education which State facility you would be best suited for. In short, if you’re 20 years old, a first time offender, and only serving a few years, chances are extremely slim that you would be sent to a prison where rape even occurs. Think about it. If you and those around you were only serving ~5 years, do you really think people would want to start raping each other? No. As for the lifers, I can’t really speak for them. I do know rape in prison is definitely REAL, but in the 5 years i did, I never personally saw anything like that happen. Sure, there was consensual encounters happening, but the whole “drop the soap thing?” Nope. Also, I think it’s important to point out that the facility that I spent the majority of my sentence in, there were PARTITIONED SHOWERS. Yup. You read that right. Shower curtains and everything. Also, it wasn’t uncommon for inmates to have friends or other gang members stand guard in outside of the shower in case anyone would want to attack/fight the person while they were in the shower and vulnerable.====–

Okay. Enough about rape.

Now that we got that out of the way…….


Can you get drugs in jail/prison? You bet your fucking ass you can. It’s all there. Marijuana, Cocaine, Ecstacy, Meth, Heroin, PCP, etc. You name it, you can get it. Most of the time it’s a lot more expensive. For example, a $10 bag of heroin might cost you $40. That all depends on how it got inside the jail/prison. Sometimes, it’s the same price as it is on the street. I’ve even seen hypodermic syringes smuggled from the medical ward for people to use to shoot up. A metal ballpoint pen? Crackpipe. They would strip and ball up copper wire from headphones, set it on fire (to take some sort of coating off the copper), bunch it up inside the metal base of the pen and voila! Crackpipe!

Originally, I was going to go into detail about how these drugs make it into the institutions, but my lawyer advised against it. I will, however say that there are tons of ways: visits, correctional officers, people on the outside throwing drugs over the prison walls, the UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE……even dropped from hot-air balloon rides. (Crazy, I know, but completely fucking true.)


I don’t even know where to start with this one. Gangs in prison are EVERYFUCKINGWHERE. In Jersey, the main gangs were Bloods, NETAS, Latin Kings, Crips, Aryan Brotherhood, and 5% Nation. (I’m even tempted to put Muslims under this category as well, because they operated more like a gang than a religion behind those walls, but I don’t want to start an argument with someone on Reddit trying to defend their religion.)

Bloods The Bloods were definitely the biggest gang in the facilities I was at. It seems like they would recruit just about ANYONE (as long as they were black or latino), and believed in power-by-numbers. I saw many young men ‘jumped-in.’ This is where the potential recruit would have to try to stay on his feet as 4 or 5 other Bloods would basically beat him up. One higher-ranking blood would stand to the side and count aloud “Blood ONE. Blood TWO. Blood THREE…”etc, all the way to 30. If the potential recruit would fall down during the jump-in, the others would help him up, and the count would continue where it left off. This is know as being “Brought Home,” and once a member, this person was now a “homie.” Bloods in prison were easy to spot. It didn’t seem like secrecy was at all a priority of theirs. You’d always see them greet each other with their intricate handshakes, their tattoos[1] andburn marks[2] gave them away, and when they talked, they’d “slash their C’s.” For example, instead of asking for a “Cigarette,” they’d ask for a “Bigerette.” I shit you not. As retarded as that sounds, it’s true. It was to disrespect the Crips. They’d replace all the C’s with B’s. Bloods Wiki[3]

Moving on…

The Netas were a very unique group. They swore up and down they were not a “gang,” but an “association.” Well…..they ARE different from the other gangs. I’ll give them that. But they are still what’s known to to NJ DOC as a “Security Threat Group.” Basically, on paper, they are a gang. What’s so different about them? Well…they are sort of unoffical peace-keepers. It started out as a prison gang in Puerto Rico. I don’t know their official history, because I never was in the gang, but I do know a few things about them. They sort of act as moderators within the system. If they see other gangs preying on 550’s (prison talk for ‘neutrals’), they will step in. As one NETA told me, their name means “Never Ever Tolerate Abuse.” Again, I was never a part of the NETAS, so I don’t know if that’s accurate, but that’s what I’ve been told. And I definitely saw them standing up for others when nobody else had their backs. Out of all the gangs I saw in the prison system, this was definitely the LEAST violent. Also, I never saw a black NETA. Almost always latino, with the rare exception of a caucasian member.NETAS Wiki[4]

Latin Kings
Ah, the Kings…. Well, I’ve met Kings I liked, and Kings I fucking HATED, but they were definitely a unique bunch. It seemed like they were a bit more selective in their recruiting than other gangs. They didn’t want just anyone in their gang. Everyone they recruited seemed to have a purpose. Some were recruited because they were good fighters. (the ‘Soldier’ type.) Some were recruited for their brains (the ‘Engineer’ or ‘Teacher’ type.) Almost like classes in an RPG video game. I know that sounds really fucking weird, but it’s true. I used to be rather friendly with a high-ranking Latin King from Trenton. We got along well, because we both enjoyed intelligent conversation. (A rare commodity in prison.) Everytime we would have a discussion, he would refer to it as ‘building.’ As if we were creating something bigger than ourselves by bringing our thoughts and ideas together. He taught me quite a few things about Latin Kings, including things that were meant only for members. I’m not going to betray him and leak their secrets on the internet, but I will talk about a few things I found interesting. One of the things that struck me as odd, and somewhat self-defeating was that if you were a Latin King and you had a son….well….sorry, boy. You are AUTOMATICALLY a King. Think about that. Your BABY is a gang member. Wow. Talk about guilt by association. Also, he taught me about Chicago. Apparently, this is where the Kings Originate. He told me quite a few stories about the history of the ALKQN. (Almight Latin King and Queen Nation.) It’s quite an interesting story, and apparently HBO even did a documentary about it.

As a last note, I just want to point out that the Latin Kings take their shit SERIOUSLY. They put their loyalty to “the crown” above EVERYTHING else. EVERYTHING. It’s crazy. If a higher ranking King told them to kill their own mother…..so long Mom. If you don’t believe me, do your research. ALKQN[5] Latin King Wiki[6] )

Aryan Brotherhood
I’ll be honest….I only knew 2 or 3 “AB Boys.” I don’t know firsthand a whole lot about these guys. I was asked to join (being a white boy in prison), but I declined. However, when I was asked to join, I was given their ‘paperwork.’ It was basically a list of rules to follow to ensure that you were living ‘like a white man should.’The problem with the AB was that they were WAY different in real life as compared to what they were on paper. In their ‘paperwork,’ they claim to be upright citizens, and live the WHITE way, (such as not cheating on your wife, providing for your family, etc etc…) The problem with this? In real life……it was nothing more than a hate group. “Nigger” this, and “Nigger” that. Everything was the fault of the “Niggers.” It was crazy. I actually supported a LOT of the ideas they had on PAPER, but the second you’d actually sit down and talk to an AB boy….it was pure HATE. Aryan Brotherhood Wiki[7]

In the facilities I was incarcerated, this group was a fucking JOKE. I’m not even going to spend a whole lot of time on this gang. Basically, what you had was a few REAL Crips from the hood leading a few dumbasses. Sometimes scared wigger white boys from the suburbs would join…..some from the shore towns, and even some scared black kids from the suburbs. They were always in PC. PC is an acronymn for “Protective Custody.” Basically, anyone in PC could live a ‘normal’prison life, but never interact with the general population, or “GP.” The PC unit was always seperate, because they were either scared to death of GP, or there was another reason for them being in PC. For example, a celebrity will almost NEVER go into general population. The State wouldn’t want to be sued if a celebrity died in one of their prisons. I know this doesn’t line-up with the general view of Crips, but this was MY PERSONAL experience in the NJ prison system. Want more? Crip Wiki[8]

5% Nation
Damn, I can’t wait to expose these idiots. Most of you are aware of members of the 5% nation and don’t even realize it. Wu-Tang Clan? 5 Percenters. Busta Rhymes? 5 Percenter. Lauryn Hill? 5 Percenter. What do all these people have in common? They all hate white people and believe that all of the world’s problems can be attributed to the ‘white man.’ Also…..the white man is the Devil. Who was one of the most famous contributers to this particular Anit-White Man group? Malcolm X. This group, in particular, bothers me more than any other gang out there. Why? Because under the guise of “Supreme Intellegence,” they lead their members to hate “the White Man,” teach their members false facts supporting reasons to hate the white man, and hold themselves up as “Gods.” They even greet each other as such. “Sup, God?” They even go so far as filing the necessary paperwork in prison to change their legal names to shit like “Supreme Allah,” “Natural Born,” True Black Allah,” and “Supreme Mathmatics Magnetic Victorious Allah.” I shit you not.They believe they are individual Gods, in charge of their own destiny, and that the White Man is full of “Devilishment,” and “Trick-knowledgy.” It sounds idiotic, because it IS. They even believe that the black man is GOD because in the Quran, they call God “Allah.” They Interperet this as A-arm L-leg L-leg A-arm H-head. Go fucking figure. 5% Nation Wiki[9] Enough about ignorant gangs though. Let’s move on, shall we? As this was “too long to post,” I had to break it in sections. Please see [Part 3]


In prison (where I was, anyway…) you could order ‘commissary’ twice a month. Commissary is basic needs, and then some. Cigarettes: Marlboros, Newports, or Buglers[1] were the most popular and used most often as currency., Toothpaste, Soap, Deodorant, Floss, Shampoo, Conditioner, Baby Powder, Hand/Body Lotion, Razors (single-blade BIC disposable), Shaving cream, Q-Tips, Nail Clippers, Cocoa Butter, Hair Grease (don’t ask me. black dudes use it.), Chapstick, Sweatpants, Sweatshirts, Gym Shorts, Socks, T-Shirts, Boxers, Briefs, Wife-beaters, AM/FM Walkmans, Headphones, Batteries, Candy Bars, Tuna Fish, Lifesavers, Toilet paper, Coffee (Maxwell Instant), Cups, Spoons, Bowls, Plastic forks/spoons, Chili, ramen noodles, pretzels, potato chips, bottled water, pens/pencils, Stationary, Envelopes, Stamps, Generic Doritos, Mayo, Mustard, Ketchup, Kool-Aide mix, Iced Tea mix, Sugar, Adobo, Cans of Ensure, Canned Octopus, Pouches of Salmon, Minute Rice, Pouches of pre-cooked Chicken, Corn Beef Hash, and a few things I just cant remember. It’s been a while. But that’s most of it.

In order to order things from commissary, you needed to have money on your ‘books.’ (your prison account).There were only two ways to get money put on your books. Either your friends/family members would send you money orders that would then be transferred into your account, or you would rely soley on ‘State Pay.’

State Pay

The information I’m about to give about State Pay might be out-dated. Things may have changed since I got out, but this is how it was while I was incarcerated.

Every inmate in required to have a job. When you first arrive to whatever state prison you’ve been classified to, you’re required to take what’s known as a TABE test. (Test of Adult Basic Education) Should you find yourself incarcerated, take this test seriously. It could make the difference between sitting behind a computer all day in air conditioned classrooms as a Teacher’s Aid, or outside in the scorching heat pushing lawnmowers. The TABE test is a piece of cake ScanTron type standardized test that anyone with a High School Diploma should have no problem passing.

Once you take your test, you will be assigned to a job based on your test score. I landed a job making $3.75/day as a ‘teacher’s aide.’ Other jobs on the compound included Grounds Duty (Mowing grass all over the compund), Unit ParaPros (Keeping the Unit clean, sweeping/mopping, cleaning the showers, etc.), Mower Shop (making sure the lawnmowers were kept in working order), Rec Aid (Keeping the weights in the Rec yard organized, setting out basketballs and other outside equipment), Kitchen Duty (preparing meals, and distributing food to the Units on carts), Plumbing/Maintenance, and others that I can’t really remember right now.

All jobs were paid on a ‘per-day’ basis. The minimum wage was $1.30/day, and the maximum was $4.75

If you didn’t have family on the outside to send you money-orders to put on your account, this was how you made your money and provided for yourself. State pay goes out once a month.

Social Life

This was both an interesting a frustrating aspect of life on the inside. I never fully considered myself as one of ‘them,’ so the entire time I spent incarcerated, I looked at it an an outsider looking in. The views I’m about to express are my own. I can’t really say it’s cold hard facts, but this is how I saw it.

First of all, just like you see in the movies, Blacks stick with the Blacks, Whites stick with the Whites, Latinos with Latinos, and I honestly only saw TWO Asians while I was down, and they stuck with the Latinos. It didn’t really seem like it was a ‘rule’ that the races stuck together, but let’s face it, your natural tendency would be to gravitate towards those most like yourself. People you have things in common with. Also, if shit were to hit the fan and all of a sudden you found yourself forced to choose sides…..Well? Who are you going to side with? As as white guy, I always hung out with a small circle of white guys. We would work out together, play cards/dominos together, talk, teach each other, help one another, watch each other’s backs, etc. On the rare occasion that a new white guy would be assigned to our unit, one of us would be designated to approach him, welcome him to the unit and provide anything he might need. If he was new to the compund and didn’t have anything, we would all chip-in from our own supplies and made sure he had enough until he could buy his own commissary. Need cigarettes? Soap? Toothpaste? Deodorant? Stamps? We’ve got your back. You aren’t in “debt.”

We weren’t a gang. We were just a group of guys that had stuff in common. Most of us were from the suburbs, got into drugs for one reason or another, and found ourselves locked-up. We dealt with it by coming together and tried to make prison life a bit less hellish.

You’d think that the black and Latino gangs would try to take advantage of us and steal our shit and whatnot, but that was never a problem. We showed them respect, and in turn got respect. This is one aspect of prison life that I actually wish carried on into the outside world. People respect each other. In that environment, you HAVE to respect one another. Are you going to intentionally disrespect someone, know you might very well get stabbed for doing so? No.

There’s a lot of Do’s and Dont’s in the social world of Prison. I certainly can’t put everything, or this would be a book (make me an offer Editors!), but I will try to include a decent amount. DONT Try to fight someone your first day like in the movies. Stay to yourself, keep out of other’s business, and you should be fine. DONT Snitch. Ever. For anything. No exceptions. Moral dilemma? Oh well. DONT SNITCH. Your life could depend on it. DONT join a gang if you’re not already in one. This will cause more trouble than it’s worth both inside and outside. DONT talk to CO’s unless there is another inmate with you. This way, you don’t appear to be snitching about something. DONT fight a gang member if you are neutral. You won’t win. Even if you’re winning the fight, now you have 100 more ‘homies’ to fight. DONT gamble. There are exceptions to this rule, like gambling for small amounts within your circle. But DONT gamble with those outside your immediate social circle. DONT get involved in drugs. Smoking some weed here and there is fine, but other than that, just stay away from it all. DONT tell someone (even jokingly) to ‘Suck my dick.’ Never invite another man to your privates. This is a major sign of disrespect. Just don’t do it. I know it sounds funny, but it’s true. DONT wake someone up. Unless its and emergency, DONT DO IT. Sleep is taken seriously, as it’s the only time you’re not locked up. You’re free. Waking someone up for no good reason can get your ass kicked. DONT sit down on someone’s bed or step into their cell without being given permission. Some people don’t care, but other’s take this seriously. (Placing your ass where someone lays their head isn’t a laughing matter.) DONT try to act tough. Be yourself, stay to yourself, and you should be fine. DONT steal from anyone. (duh.)

There’s a lot more, but I think that’s enough for now. I’d like to move onto the part people seemed to be real interested in.

-Lighting a cigarette without matches or a lighter, using only items found on commissary.

This was a technique taught to me in the County Jail. In prison, there’s really no need for this, as they sell matches

and cigarettes. However, in the County Jail, these items are considered contraband.

You will need: Two AA batteries, Nail Clippers (optional), a pack of Lifesavers or Breathsavers, toilet paper, arazor blade, and (of course) a cigarette.

Open up the BreathSavers and take the foil out. Figure out a way to remove the razor from the plastic. Some people use nail clippers, I prefer just stomping on the razor. (its faster and less chances of getting cut). Next, you need to cut and fold the foil a bit. One piece needs to be somewhat thin and fold a ‘kink’ in the middle.

The other piece should be able to fit under both batteries and make a sufficient connection. Last, roll the toilet paper up kind of like a pencil (this is hard to describe, bare with me.) Basically you need a ‘handle’ end and a ‘flared out’ end. The purpose behind this is to have an end to hold and an end to light. Next, hold the toilet paper in your mouth (you’ll need both hands free) and complete the circut with the ‘flared-out end’ of the paper above the kink in the foil. And there you have it: FIRE.