All going to plan, the majority of us will never have first-hand experience of what it’s like when society locks you up, and throws away the key. We might commit the odd transgression – sneaking through the train barriers, trespassing too long on a neighbour’s property to nab a Charmander, nicking the last of a flatmate’s chocolate – but we’re not really nearly bad enough to learn what life on the inside is like. Luckily (er, depending on your point of view) there are loads of people amongst us who have done the dirty, done the time, and done the good deed of writing about it in the aftermath. So here’s what we’ve learned about prison life from those that truly know…
Some prisons allow XBoxes and Playstations This isn’t out of sympathy, nor to make the days past faster – it’s simply that a bored prisoner is an infinitely more dangerous prisoner. If the inmates are distracted by the likes of Crash Bandicoot and Pokemon, they’re much less likely to start fights.
The tracksuits are scratchy Well, we’d probably already guessed that they weren’t made from cashmere and stitched with silk – but just in case you’d become enamoured of the orange stylings of prison jumpsuits, don’t. Cal Cattermole, a convict who spent a year behind bars, had plenty to complain about, but the uncomfortable clothing was top of his list.
You’re not allowed underwire bras Once you’re on the inside, unsupported breasts will be the least of problems, particularly if one of your cellmates has made a weapon of the more technical bits of your bustier.
They get $13 pocket money a week At least, that’s the case in Goulburn Supermax prison, which holds at least 30 Isis supporters, and made headlines recently when prisoners penned a letter complaining of “oppressive conditions” (in prison, how surprising). According the missive, the measly allowance is insufficient to purchase the Halal meat they must eat. The rules of the prison dictate that no money may be sent to any prisoner within its walls.
In some prisons, you never see the sky It’s hard for us to imagine incarceration to that degree – but to the most dangerous criminals in the world, it’s simply a reality. In the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, located in the Colorado mountains (known colloquially as ADX), inmates spend 22 hours a day in a concrete cell, with 2 hours allocated for exercise in a slightly largely, closed-in space. They are only rarely allowed contact with one another, and never leave the premises. Most inmates in this prison are serving life sentences.