“Inmates in here have set people on fire, launched bleach bombs, all of that. There’s a new guy who has only been here for a few weeks, who doesn’t know who is dangerous. The new guy accidentally brushed up against a Klansmen in the dormitory, and the Klansmen grabbed his right arm, pulled out a box cutter, and started slicing him up. The new guy tried to pick up a trashcan lid to defend himself, but it was too weak, and the guards were just standing at the gate watching. New guy eventually staggered to the gate and escaped. He had over thirty stitches inside his stomach, over twenty on the outside of his stomach, and he almost bled to death.

“One inmate, Stephen Mobley, was known as the Domino’s Pizza Murderer. He was executed a few years back. He liked boys and thought that because he had money he could pay people to do whatever he wanted. He kept coming on to guys who weren’t gay. They got tired of it, so they plotted to go in his cell, trick him into going inside another guy’s cell, and then slice him up with razor and rape him to ‘show him how it feels.’ And one of the guys was a booty bandit—excuse me, an ex-booty bandit, if you want to call it that. But evidently he wasn’t too ex if he was thinking about raping Mobley. They cornered Mobley in the cell, but he ended up getting out and calling for the guards. They’re all kinds of strange, crazy stuff going on in here that nobody ever hears about.”

“That’s horrid. You’re lucky you’re buff.”

“That has nothing to do with it. That can actually get you killed because people take somebody my size as a threat. If you show any weakness, if you show that people can walk all over you, they will. I once had a faceoff with another inmate on the basketball court. This guy had been bothering me and pushing my buttons for weeks, and I finally confronted him about it on the courts. I had to show that I wasn’t going to tolerate this kind of behavior from him or anyone else. Eventually he backed off, and for the most part people have been good about giving me my space. But you always have to be on guard.

“Some inmates aren’t as violent, but they’re manipulative. One guy would ask for hugs and starts rubbing up on people when they hugged him. Another guy kept borrowing stuff from me. He’d say, ‘Troy, I really need some stamps. I promise I’ll pay you back.’ So I gave him the stamps. A few days later he came up and said, ‘Troy, I need some envelopes. Just put it on my tab. I’ll pay you back.’ He kept reassuring me he’d pay me back, but he never did. Then one day he comes up and says, ‘Troy, I owe some guys money. I need some stuff to pay them with. Let me borrow some stuff, man. I’ll pay you back.’ By this time I was pretty fed up with this guy, so I told him, ‘You know what? You’ve never paid me back for anything. You just keep borrowing and borrowing and borrowing with no intention of ever giving it back. I’ll do you one last favor: you can have everything I have. You can sell it, do whatever you want. But the next time you need help because you owe money to somebody, don’t come to me.’ He happily took my stuff and paid off his debts. And sure enough he mismanaged it and once again owed money. He came to me saying, ‘Troy, you gotta help me out.’ And I told him, ‘What did I say to you last time? All you did was take advantage of me, and I told you we were done. You’re on your own.’ There’s a lesson in all of this. Never give a man more than you can afford to lose.”

“Would life be any better if your sentence was commuted to life without parole?”

“I guess that’s better than being executed, but honestly that doesn’t really cut it. Death row is bad, but conditions for the general population are much, much worse. There was a guy who begged a judge to give him the death penalty so he could avoid the general population prison. Death row is like a spa compared to that place. Death row inmates who got their sentences commuted to life stay in isolation for years because they’re too afraid of the general population.”

“Why would people from death row be afraid?”

“Those who are supposedly hardcore killers become either prey or a predator in population. Even the predators become prey because nobody in population is scared of you because of your crime. The guys who hurt women, kids, and elderly people, they have it hard in prison because the ‘regular’ prisoners don’t respect them. So they get picked on. And if they’re already paranoid, they become schizophrenic, especially the rapists. They become victims as well.

Previous: Part II, Section XI

Next: Part II, Section XIII


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