Dealing with violence

Screen Shot 2017-01-15 at 5.09.01 PMSadly, violence in prison is a reality. I was it first hand, but thankfully was never on the receiving end. I give all glory to God for this as I was in a number of situations where they could have easily resulted in my being injured. This article about a former Virginia delegate who was beaten in prison is a prime example of how, for whatever reason, inmates can become vulnerable to violence.

I have no idea why this particular gentleman was attacked, but in my 5 years in prison, I found there are a number of ways to decrease your risk of being on the receiving end of a lock in a sock. First, don’t stress about what is on TV or what seat you want to sit in. There is a hierarchy of who controls the TV and seats in a room. It is usually either the most powerful and/or the most senior inmate. I just decided, after a few close calls, to not even care what was on or who made the decision about what we watched.

Second, don’t owe anybody anything. Don’t borrow money, commissary, etc. for other inmates. There are exceptions once you’ve made a “friend” or two. But overall, it is best to never be indebted to anyone.

Three, be humble. This is probably the most difficult thing for me and most of us. But realizing that it isn’t about me, was an important step in learning to walk humbly. Most guys feel like all they have left is their pride and are willing to fight to keep it. There was nothing that important in prison that was worth fighting for.

Now there are times when you may need to protect yourself from a physical threat and I encourage you to be prepared for when that may happen. But you can do a lot to help reduce your risk of being a victim.

Madoff Corners the Hot Chocolate Market

madoff cocoaYes, it’s true, you can use Wall Street principles to hustle a living in prison. Bernie Madoff seems to be a prime example of this according to this article – http://abc7ny.com/news/report-bernie-madoff-capitalizing-off-of-hot-chocolate-in-prison/1703229/

While I don’t recommend this strategy as it will draw a lot of attention and derision toward you, it is one example of how inmates can take their situation and try to turn it into an opportunity. A lot of guys, including me, had a hustle in prison. For me, it was ironing guys uniforms. I would charge about $6-8/month to iron a guy’s uniforms up to 4 times. It was a fairly low-key hustle that didn’t require me to break any major rules and didn’t cost me a anything to maintain as the iron was provided by the prison. So I could make $30 or so a month to help me pay for my phone calls and commissary while helping guys to look a little neater. Plus, this helped fill my time in a productive way.

So if you have to choose a hustle, I wouldn’t suggest following Bernie’s path that is exploitative and could cause some guys to get want to strike out at you, I do suggest exploring opportunities that will help you make a little money and help others along the way.