Dealing with Others in Prison

Posted: February 11, 2013 in Inmate Population

One of the most unique things you will have to do in Federal Prison is learn how to deal with other inmates while you are there.  There is a tremendous cast of characters present with you while you are there.  As I have said in the past, be careful about who your friends are and how much you choose to tell them.

The Bully
Inside every prison there is a bully of some sort.  In my case there were several.  These are the guys that try to manipulate everything that goes on within the camp.  They are not necessarily the biggest or most “evil” of the group, but they do know how to manipulate the system well.  Typically they have been at the prison for a good deal of time and know how to work the Corrections Officers.  They will do anything to make sure they get extra commissary, the best jobs, the best beds, and they will be the first to throw “someone else” in the hot seat if things get dicey.  I tried everything I could to avoid these guys because they are only out for themselves.  They were the first to try to do you a favor when you first get there, and the first to remind you that they helped you.

The person can cause a lot of trouble for the inmates as they are not necessarily on the radar with the CO’s.  And when they get caught or something goes wrong they get the most upset.  They will manipulate everything and they control a lot of areas from the cigarette hustle to the laundry hustle.

The Comic
These are the guys that can make your stay more tolerable.  Depending on the mood of the CO’s they will lighten the mood during those times that can sometimes be tense; count times, etc.  They are also the ones that can create some tense times with staff.  If they crack a joke or play a practical joke at the wrong time you might see your dorm get tossed or you might end up on extra duty of you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Most of the time these guys know when they can and cannot get away with something but there is always the chance they screw up.

The Innocent
This is almost everyone at the camp!  I don’t know how many times I was asked to look at someones paperwork and give my opinion as to whether I thought they should be there or not.  The fact of the matter is everything on paper looks a lot better than it does when you know all the facts.  A large number of the inmates are working through appeals or working on other charges they may have other than the one(s) they are serving time for.

The Lawyer
Suprisingly there are many of these in the Federal Prison System.  And a lot of them are there because of issues related to property and insurance frauds.  These guys are constantly “selling” their services to help in filing appeals, motions, etc. with the courts.  Most are pretty knowledgeable of the law, but some of them will manipulate you into thinking paperwork is a good idea when in fact it may backfire on you.  I saw too many guys do something based on the advice of the “lawyer” that either got them into more trouble or messed up their case.

The Entrepreneur
Every prison has some sort of hustle run within it.  Atlanta Federal Prison Camp is no exception.  Most of them are legitimate and will work in your best interest however there are some that will take you.  There is a hustle everywhere you turn; from the laundry, to the chow hall, to the way you get your cellmate.  Each of these will cost you something.  Some of these work out for your benefit.  For example, we had a pizza guy, a banana pudding guy, and a store guy.  Each of these that things that otherwise are not allowed in the dormitories and sells them to the other inmates.  For example, the pizza guy often purchased food from the chow hall (or acquires it himself) as well as uses items purchased from the commissary to make pizza.  It wasn’t your normal type of pizza, but it was a nice change from the chow hall every once in a while.

The Hustler
Many of the inmates will try to run a hustle of some sort.  Whether it be doing something for you, sneaking food from the chow hall, or sneaking things in.  Choose which hustle you get involved with carefully and know what consequences there will be if you are caught involved with it.  Things like laundry, the barber shop, or doing other services aren’t bad, but others may get you in trouble if you get caught.

You will also have guys who will clean and fold your laundry for you.  If you are here for a while this is not a bad service to take advantage of.  The laundry guy comes around on a specified day and picks up all your laundry (including sheets) and will wash, dry, and fold everything.  It will then be delivered directly back to you and you don’t have to worry about it.  This is good because if you just use the general laundry not everything is dried when it gets to you.  Not to mention it is washed with all the other inmates items (could be 20-30 bags) in the machine the same time yours is being done.  So you know that your stuff will always be clean.  These guys will also be able to get you extra laundry bags, sheets, pillows, clothes, etc.

Other hustles involve getting an individual moved in with a specific cellmate, changing dorms, getting a specific job, or even being selected for a specific group for an activity.  While these are governed by the CO’s, the inmates are the ones who influence them to do the work.  Almost all they time they are successful in getting things to happen.


This is just a sampling, I will post more of the Characters in a future post.  If you are a people watcher then Prison will be very interesting.  There is such a great diversity within the system you just don’t know what you are going to see.

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Comments
  1. Steve says:

    How do you pay for the “service” you received?

    • Life in a Federal Prison Camp says:

      Oddly enough “Services” such as food, laundry, etc. were paid in Mackerel (or Macks)….yes pouches of fish. There were so many of these pouches floating around it was unbelievable. They started using “Macks” because there was a limit on the number of stamps an individual could have in their possession. Fish apparently was the next best thing. Many of the pouches were years old and heaven forbid if any of those pouches broke open.

      Most things cost a single Mack or just under $1. Things that were a little more daring cost more. Laundry would cost 3-5 macks per week. I just depended on who you had doing it and what the job was. But, fish was the payment of choice at least while I was there.

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