Prison 101:9

STOP! This material is NOT edited for content. It is not fiction. It contains explicit language and descriptions of real situations. It is not suitable for minors, and may not be suitable for people who easily disturbed…


If I knew a guy that was drugging, getting tattoos or messing with a dude I just had to keep some limits between us. I was not, and am not, homophobic, but in the prison population AIDS, HEP B, HEP C and TB are rampant. I mean, I have seen guys get the news. It’s always horrible, and you can see it on their faces even if you don’t hear the words they just heard.

We are tested for HEP and TB every year and you can volunteer for AIDS tests every year too. I did it all every year.  I know that AIDS is not able to be passed except by direct contact, but I just can’t reconcile that in my head. I see guys work out, guys that have aids, and they spit and sweat everywhere and then another guys gets right in where they were and works out right behind them, never cleans up, nothing. The thing is there is spray right there. It is a state law, there has to be a spray there to kill whatever may be on the equipment. You are supposed to spray down the equipment/weights before and after use. Because the workouts are hard and there is also from time to time going to be blood from slight cuts etc. Every time I worked out I cleaned everything before and after.


In prison you can have AIDS, in this state anyway, and no one can know. Not the C.O.’s, staff. No one at all. And several times there have been inmates who had it and just wanted to bring as many with them as they could. I was shocked. Who would do that? There are people who will do it. There is no means of protection during sex, so inmates steal the surgical gloves the CO’s use for strip searches and use those. You can imagine how well that doesn’t work. But you have to look at the reality of the situation too. I used to try to talk to some of these guys, but they just don’t care. They are criminals. Their whole life has been criminal, usually back and forth to prison after they graduated from county. Not that I thought I was better, I used to tell myself, but I had not set out ever to be a criminal, never liked it, never let it infect me, so I never had that complete unconcern for consequences that a lot these guys have. And that, I told myself, is what it is. They simply do not care. In this state there are seminars that inmates have to participate in yearly so they are aware of the hazards of sex in prison. All that there is to stop it, all the reasons, and yet they don’t utilize it.

As I had that thought I was sitting in the recreation yard cooling off after a workout and watching sex going on not far from me. You may not think that can be, but it can be. In any case, I realized then just how narrow my thinking was, because as an addict I did have that complete lack of care for what I did or who I hurt. It was that one day after a workout, sitting and waiting for the C.O.’s to line us up and take us back that the switch finally flipped and I saw it. Up until then I had held myself apart from criminals, but there was really no difference. It was just one more lie I had devised for myself to make my lifestyle okay, moral even, and I had finally seen it while I had sat in a Max prison recreation yard looking down on the other men I was doing time with.


Very bad as you can imagine. There is stolen alcohol, bleach and iodine to sterilize with, but you have to pay the guys that stole it and that cuts into your profit, so a lot of the guys that are doing the work just say fuck it. Many inmates use guitar strings, cut them to very small pieces with nail clippers and sell them for needles. They make a lot of money doing it. You have to have a permit to have a guitar, and you have to have a guitar to get the strings. Most guys that do the work did not even seem to care that they were getting blood on themselves too, and they were using the same string over and over until it just wouldn’t stay sharp and the guys were bleeding even more because the cassette player motor they used to build a Tat Gun (Tattoo Machine) was just ramming it through their skin.


Needles are so hard to get in prison that the ones they do have, have been shared over and over again. And, believe it or not, there are guys with serious heroin habits that inject. They almost always contact HEP immediately. It’s just crazy. The other part of drug use is how they pay for it. Many of the younger guys end up getting a habit and then pay with sex. And the dudes they are sleeping with have AIDS because they have been there for years and slept with everyone they could.

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