Prison Secrets Exposed By Retired Warden

By molly atherton 7 months ago

1. Drones help to fly in drugs, weapons and mobile phones.

These are hard to monitor, and so it has become a massive problem for prison staff because these things can fly all the contraband right through the security and into the hands of the prisoners. They can even be programmed to zoom in and out without a pilot.Original content sourced from

2. A makeshift knife using razor blades melted into the handle of a toothbrush.

These are used as weapons and even for protection. Cell searches are often conducted to clear the prison of such offensive weapons but they are easily remade as the prisoners have access to both toothbrushes, lighters and blades for shaving.

3. Dirty protests are becoming more common.

Yes, to have their demands met, prisoners are resorting to smearing their excrement all over the prison walls and such for others to have to suffer through. This usually means the prison guards who are working near this stuff for 14 hours a day. That's why they sometimes give into these demands to avoid this.

4. Organised crime gangs have people working in these correctional facilities.

Now, this starts to sound just like the movies even though, in real life becoming a correctional officer means having background checks and character references. However, once in a while someone slips by who has been placed there as a mole to smuggle contraband into prisons or to gather intelligence on rival gangs.

5. Hot water mixed with sugar can be used as a weapon.

Throwing hot water on another prison or a guard is one thing but when you mix this with sugar, then the water sticks to the skin longer and it, therefore, burns more thoroughly.

6. Prisoners are trapped in their cells all day due to staff shortages.

There are set staff quotas needed for the prisoners to be released from their cells. So, if one calls in sick or there just isn't enough staffing, they are left in their cells.

7. The food is cooked and prepped by the prisoners.

You can imagine that they feed them the worst food that society can find which is often reused several times over. Also, the prisoners can mess with the food by adding blood into the diet which can infect others with whatever ailment the person who prepares the food has.

8. Hitmen in prison are real.

Apparently, some prisoners are serving a life sentence and so, therefore, have nothing to lose. So, they are hired by other prisoners to do this task in exchange for tobacco before completing the work. If caught, they are put in solitary confinement or get extra charges on their records.

9. Prison staff and their families are regularly threatened.

They are even followed home from their shift! This presents a real danger to them. Bad people even leave bricks on the doorstep of a guard's home to let them know that they are a target.

10. Prisons are losing staffing as the years go by.

They are only offered one-third of the staffing that they had just ten years ago. Meanwhile, the number of prisoners are rising, and the rising violence is a consequence of this.

11. Sex offenders are segregated from other prisoners.

This is done for their safety because they are often victims of bullying and being attacked.

12. Prisoners can sometimes wear their clothes instead of prison clothes.

This is used as a reward when they are well behaved which can be a kind of status thing within the prison.

13. Visitors are sniffed by dogs.

This keeps them from bringing in any contraband into the prison premises. Also, if they are caught doing this, they can be immediately arrested.

14. Any prisoner who exhibits emotional instability is put on constant watch.

This is for those who have suicidal tendencies and are actively arming themselves. They are often held back with physical force to keep from doing this.

15. Prisoners have access to free condoms.

Although they are not encouraged to have relationships, it often happens behind closed doors, and therefore, they are entitled to be protected and to help prevent the spread of disease and infection.

16. Prisoners with good behaviour often get televisions in their cells.

You would think that giving television to all prisoners would help provide them with something to do. However, they can also be used as weapons to throw at prison guards, and the wiring is used to charge up their mobile phones.

17. Tobacco is the main currency in prisons.

Money can't be used inside, and so they have to come up with something that all people want.

18. Staff undergoes training courses on terrorism inside jails.

Terrorism inside jails happens due to the extra time that they have to influence others.

19. Suicide is on the rise and how they do this is shocking.

They jump from the highest levels that they can find and even cut up bed sheets to hang themselves.

20. Every prisoner has to be physically counted five times a day.

This can be frustrating because prisoners can be at their work duty, in the shower or even sleeping in bed! They are often woken up in the middle of the night just to read their number which is hard on the sleeping prisoner. They often retaliate by hiding from their count just to keep guards working late.

21. Some riot trained staff are trained in pyrotechnics.

There is always a highly trained team of staff on call for large rioting situations, and they are based all around the country. They are trained to use flash and smoke bombs and much more advanced fighting techniques than normal prison staff to get the situation under control.

22. Staff Can Be Overwhelmed And Suffer From Low Morale

Image Source / The GuardianPrison is supposed to be a hard life for the inmates, naturally, but it can also take its toll on those working there. Low morale is commonplace for lots of people who dread going to work in the morning, but for prison officers it can be a real issue when overcrowded prisons and long hours are demanding.

23. The Job Is Frightening And Unpredictable For Staff

Image Source / BBCWhen prison systems are so strict and organised, you'd think that every day would be the same for the routine of staff and prisoners alike. Maybe even mundane. But prison offers can wake feeling frightened of what the unpredictable day may bring, based on changing behaviours of prisoners and the state of prisons.

24. Officers Don't Rejoice In Prisoner Deaths

Image Source / Louisiana IlluminatorWith suicides on the rise, and commonplace, in prisons, you might think that prison wardens don't care too much if a prisoner kills themselves - they're in there for horrific crimes, after all. But one prison officer lamented the suicide of a 20 year old, believing it to be such a waste of life.

25. Prison Can Be Described As 'One Big Revolving Door'

Image Source / WIREDThe goal for a lot of prison stays is to rehabilitate prisoners and have them serve their sentence and leave for a better life. But with many prisoners swearing they won't ever be back, an officer described it as 'one big revolving door' with prisoners out and then in again all the time.

26. Officers Can Be Violently Hit By Prisoners

Image Source / How to JusticePrison officers are trained to deal with violence in prisons, and the majority of this is going to be prisoners versus prisoner outbursts. Even if a prisoner goes to strike an officer, you might think they wouldn't be able to make contact without being restrained. But prisoners do manage to lay a punch or two on officers.

27. Prisons Are Filled With Phones - Even If They Aren't Supposed To Be

Image Source / The GuardianMobile phones are banned in prisons. Officers even have to surrender theirs at the gate before beginning work. But that doesn't mean mobile phones aren't used anyway. Even dozens of phones can be found every months, even to the extreme of being hidden inside bodies.

28. Prisoners Are Pooled Together, Regardless Of Race Or Religion

Image Source / The EconomistTension in prisons can already be at an all time high, but throw different religious views into the mix, and you're asking for trouble. Wings can see a mixture of all races and religions, such as Muslims, Indians and Poles. This inevitably causes even more tension when extreme views differ.

29. Gangs Can Be Formed Based On Religion Alone

Image Source / YouTubePrisons are awash with gangs, but it's not just about who's the biggest and meanest, or the old-timers picking on the new guy. Gangs can be formed very specifically because of religion, and some prisoners may even convert to a different religion just to be protected by that religion's gang.

30. Prisoners Can Taunt Wardens Over Religious Views

Image Source / USA TodayAnd the religious view side of things isn't just between prisoners, either. Prisoners with a certain radical religious view can make their feelings known to wardens, too, taunting them or blaming them for certain terrorist or religious attacks.

31. There Might Be Only A Few Officers Responsible For Unlocking 100 Prisoners

Image Source / Christian Science MonitorIt's no surprise that prison staff are underpaid, overworked and prisoners are overcrowded - this alarming ratio means that sometimes it might only be two or three officers unlocking cells of 100 prisoners in the morning.

32. And This Can Mean A Whole Load Of Abuse

Image Source / Talk PovertyThe morning routine of unlocking cell doors can be met with shouting and cursing, but it can get even more dangerous than that. An officer reported they're been spat at, kicked, racially abused and even had faeces thrown in their face.

33. Drug Use Causes Panic and Mayhem In Prisons

Image Source / The GuardianDrugs known as legal highs in prisons can turn a somewhat neutral prison environment into a full scale war. Prisoners become more violent, and can make even well-behaved and quiet prisoners turn to full scale riot. Prisoners have to be taken to hospital time and again.

34. Dogs Patrol The High Fences - But It's Probably Pointless

Image Source / American Kennel ClubOfficers and dogs patrol the perimeter's high fences, checking for inmate behaviour, those wanting to jump over the fences and those deliveries of banned substances. But an officer admits it's usually a lost cause, because prisoners know how to bypass the fences - and use their phones to get the contraband in.

35. The Prisoners Just Might Be Better Fed And Watered Than The Guards

Image Source / People HowStuffWorksDue to staff shortages, guards might be looking even to have a cup of coffee. This is due to the amount they have on their plate (and it's not food) whilst running around the prison. Prisoners therefore are probably better fed than guards when they have their set mealtimes to enjoy.

36. Scores Are Most Likely To Be Settled When Prisoners Are Being Moved

Image Source / The New YorkerWhen prisoners are being moved from their cells, this can be the most dangerous time to anticipate for a guard. This is the time when prisoners are most likely to get violent and go to attack those prisoners with whom they have a score to settle.

37. Guards Admit The Work Is Emotionally Draining

Image Source / Prison and Probation JobsYou might have considered it's physically draining, but all that violence and risk of threat is bound to take its toll emotionally and psychologically, too. Apparently it does just that, according to one prison officer who said the transport of prisoners and violence is emotionally taxing.

38. Officers Eat Stale Sandwiches In Windowless Rooms

Image Source / PinterestAs mentioned, it seemed the prisoners had more time for lunch breaks than the guards do, and this one report from a prisoner just proves it. They have a small, stuffy 'mess' area, without windows, to eat sandwiches, while the prisoners might be enjoying apple pie and custard for dessert.

39. Guards Might Be Hit By Pool Balls

Image Source / Daily ExpressThe recreation area is evidently a dangerous place. Giving inmates things to occupy their time, like books and a pool table, is all well and good until things get thrown. Guards have been pelted by pool balls during riot breakouts.

40. Guards Can Call In Help From Nearby

Image Source / Business InsiderIf prison riots and violence break out and are just too big to deal with, prison guards can call for emergency help from establishments nearby. It might not be too much of a consolation, though, as a lot could happen during the time it takes for the backup to get there.

41. Prisoners Can Watch TV Until Whenever They Like

Image Source / NBC NewsGranted, it's not Sky Movies, but neither is it just one documentary channel either. Prisoners have a fair few channels to browse through until their hearts content. A lot of people outside of prison don't even have the luxury of watching TV however long they like, and not even having to pay for it.

42. Prison Is An Escape For Some People

Image Source / The Council of EuropeBecause of the facilities inside a prison - such as the aforementioned TV binging, as well as the square meals a day - a lot of people might consider this a luxury vacation compared to their life outside prison walls. Some inmates admit they purposefully get thrown in prison as a break from the real world.

43. Some Prisoners May Even Be Allowed A Musical Instrument

Image Source / The CorrespondentRewards are always available for the well-behaved prisoner, and prisoners are allowed certain personal items in their cell, like books and religious material. But they're also allowed a musical instrument, too, if they behave well enough for it.

44. Induction Into A Prison Can Take Several Hours

Image Source / Charlotte ObserverWhen you're a new prisoner being escorted and checked-in to the prison for the first time, it's more than just checking your ID, taking your possessions and booking you in. The thorough process is just that - thorough - including a very detailed strip search, and it can take several hours before you officially arrive in your cell.

45. Food Portions Don't Take Into Account A Person's Weight And Needs

Image Source/ InsiderPrisoners' food might seem more extravagant than a guard's stale sandwich, but that doesn't mean it's enough. For some of the large prisoners who require more calories, the standard meals can leave them dealing with what could be considered a child's portion compared to what they're used to.

46. Some Prisons Have Prisoners Locked Up 23 Hours A Day

Image Source / PinterestThis was the case for one prison in the UK, according to an ex-prisoner. The prisoners would be allowed out to collect their food and have some exercise, but food was eaten in their cell rather than a canteen, and it was usually a 23 hour lock up.

47. Eye Contact Means Trouble

Image Source / IMD Business SchoolIf you're staring for too long at someone, or they're holding your eye for too long, it more than likely means trouble is about to go down. You can be sized up or even just making eye contact with the wrong person can start something.

48. Gambling Is The Focus Of Pretty Much Everything

Image Source / Focus Gaming NewsPutting money on something - anything - can be a norm for prison life. Prisoners might turn a card game, dominoes, or even the result of a reality TV program, into something they could win money on. Gambling just seems to be a huge go-to.

49. Being A Guard Can Be Soul-Destroying

Image Source / MediumAside from the obvious daily threat and the risk associated with the job, it could also be extremely, soul-destroyingly boring. Especially if you're on a wing for minor criminals, you might find as a guard that you're watching TV or internet videos all day every day just to get through the boring shift.

50. Not Showering Could Get You Beat Up

Image Source / Wikimedia CommonsApparently a prison in California saw beat-ups for prisoners who skipped shower day and were inevitably a little stinky. Other inmates might not take kindly to you not making cells less smelly, or doing your part to avoid spreading dirt and germs.

51. Prisoners May Be Given Jobs To Help Other Prisoners

Image Source / Encyclopaedia BritannicaIt's no secret that convicts are assigned prison jobs to keep them busy, and one of these can actually be responsibility over other prisoners. Some prisoners can be assigned to suicide watch with other prisoners in suicide cells, where it's there job to sit with them and talk with them.

52. Bathrooms Can Be Shared By At Least 48 Other Prisoners

Image Source / FrankeSharing bathrooms in prison is a well known fact, but maybe you thought it was a handful of people at a time. But imagine trying to have your shower with about 50 other people around you. Apparently that's how crowded it can get - and some prisons might even be more so.

53. Only A Few Appliances Might Be Shared By 100 Convicts

Image Source / For the Lives of Prison WivesPrisoners only get a set amount of time for things like recreation and mealtime, which can make it all the more difficult when you have close to 100 prisoners fighting over two microwaves. But apparently that's the case in one prison in America.

54. 'Count' Procedure Can Take A Lifetime

Image Source / Verywell MindIn prison, convicts have to be regularly headcounted at certain intervals throughout the day, no matter what they're doing. While these counts have designated start times, there's no telling how long it might take or go on for - especially if prisoners are making it difficult.

55. Prisoners Might Have Freedom To Choose Slot Times For Yard Time

Image Source / The GuardianYou might have thought all prisoners are herded for exercise time at exact same time, but in some prisons, convicts may be able to pick their preferred slot. Some convicts choose a quieter slot (when everyone is having lunch, for example) to avoid the crowds.

56. A Prisoner Could Get Killed So Easily In A Crowd Before The Guards Even Realise

Image Source / OrganizeForDuring 'mass movement' of prisoners (such as everyone flocking to the yard for exercise time) the closeness of the crowd means someone could get killed in the blink of an eye before the guards even know what's going on. This is the most dangerous time for prisoners moving around the prison.

57. Some Prisons Take Appearance Very Seriously

Image Source / RankerIn some prisons where convicts have to wear a uniform, guards can be very strict on everyone looking presentable. Convicts may be ordered to tuck in their shirts before heading for meal times.

58. It Can Cost $3 For A 15 Minute Phone Call

Image Source / RedefyPrisoners earn their pay in prison, but phone calls are expensive. $3 might not sound that much, but for only 15 minutes and equating to almost twice a prisoner's daily pay depending on the prison, that's one expensive phone call.