I wanted to start a new article series on this platform and brainstorming led to this new idea of sharing the most frightening first-person experiences of convicts from prisons around the world.
So, I did some digging and with some help from few of my friends working in the writing industry, I was able to get in touch with around 20 ex-convicts who have served time or are out on/of parole, who narrated their scary stories during their sentence.
In the first part of this series, we look at first-person experiences of convicts from Levy County Jail in Florida and HM Prison Pentonville in North London.
Levy County Jail Experience in Florida – Anonymous.
- Location: Levy County Jail
- Year: 2006
- Name: Anonymous
I was convicted and put in jail for the first time in 2006.
My cellmate was a dangerous Mexican gang leader. He was extraordinarily delusional and a smooth liar. He was seemingly upset because the Correctional officers would not move him to the adjacent building, where his Latino gang members were housed. So he accused me and tried to initiate fights all the time, telling other convicts that I was a rapist and that I had molested my daughter, and even pushed me into a wall. I was a newbie, and I informed a Correctional officer that I did not want to go back to that pod.
Rather than helping me, I was thrown into solitary (hole) confinement for ten days. You are locked up the entire time inside the hole, and there’s nothing you can do. I had no books, not enough space to move.
After ten days ended, I was dragged to a new pod. However, on the first night, a huge Latino man in his mid-40s held me by my beard and warned that if I were not gone by the end of the night, he would personally skin me alive.
I again requested my Correctional officer to please shift me to a different pod as I started fearing for my life. Instead, they threw me into the darkest hole with no windows or fan. I was inside a 9ft x 5ft cell sweating 24 hours a day for seven days.
Later they took me for interrogation, asking me who is threatening me. In prison, a person who takes a name is considered a rat, so I kept silent. I said I had no idea and could not identify any mugshots. However, the CCTV revealed the face of the person who threatened me. They were sent to a month-long solitary confinement.
When he was in the hole, I kept overhearing my name being shouted out and they were going to knife the rat (me). Eventually, I was put in a different pod and I got jumped from behind and beaten up by a different Latin gang member, who put a knife on my thighs. I was put in the hospital. So, from then on, I was in protective custody until 2008, when I was acquitted. But all the time, I was always looking over my shoulder, fearing for my life.
HM Prison Pentonville in North London
- Location: HM Prison Pentonville
- Year: 2005
- Name: Adrian Calliope
I am a white geek with blue eyes, and I arrived at the prison in North London to do a 6-year sentence. I was 49-years old at the time, and I felt utterly vulnerable against muscular, young violent inmates.
My most terrifying experience came a few months in when a young, large inmate with an Arabic accent and a large beard came violently up in my face and said, “Walk with me. We have to talk.” He then walked for a mop room to be out of view of the correctional officers with the apparent intention of beating me up. I started following him as my mind raced to think of a way out of going into that room and getting stabbed. Naturally, I chose to stop just a few steps outside of the room (where guards could still see me) and put my arms on my hips and said, “What do you have to talk about?” I assumed that my body language would make me look like I was not scared (even though I was about to shit bricks) without looking intimidating. Before discussing what happened next, let me go back a few days and explain why this Arabic man wanted to talk to me.
The prison’s phone system lets us make pre-paid calls every week. The money had to be sent to my family/friends and posted to the phone account for these calls. Once the money arrived, you can make calls by entering your PIN number.
If anyone figured out your number, they would use it to make calls, and you’ll lose your pre-paid balance. What happened to me was similar.
Someone used up my 50$ worth of phone money, and I had no money left in the pre-paid balance to call anyone.
Thanks to my cellmate, word got around that someone had stolen 50 USD from my phone time. Soon, a neighbor inmate came to me and said that he knew who stole it, and it was the big bearded Arabic Man, Abdul.
Abdul had been going around offering to give call-time to other inmates in exchange for cigarettes.
When word got around that it was Abdul and that I knew everything about it, all the other inmates in my prison-house began to see what I would do about it. You see, in prison, you cannot just let someone steal from you, or else you will be a regular victim once they figure out you won’t be standing up for yourself. They were anticipating a showdown, and that is something that everyone looks forward to since it breaks up the monotony and presents a little drama.
Being much older than Abdul, I couldn’t match him in a heads up fight. Being a Christian, I was steadfast to handle this situation consistently with my faith. So I appealed and sought advice from other believers. One of my best friends was a believer but also a seasoned convict. He proposed several approaches, all involving violence. Since I would not win a straight fight, most of his ideas involved sneak attacks. Not only was it not harmonious with my faith, it just didn’t seem sensible. If I crept up and injured him, then I could surely expect revenge from him. If I killed him, then I could get life for killing him and also anticipate retaliation from the other Muslims inside the prison. If I invited him to a fair fight, then I could expect to get stoned to death. None of these sounded very good to me. So I kept praying for a couple of days, seeking a solution.
Jesus fixed the situation.
Since the other inmates wanted some drama to break up their monotony and I wasn’t doing anything, they chose to give the situation a push. Some white inmates went up to Abdul’s gang in the yard and told him that one of his people had stolen phone time from a white guy and wanted to know what he would do about it. You see, a jailhouse thief is as shit as a rat in prison terms. Someone who knocks you and takes your stuff is fine, but someone who steals when you aren’t looking is shit. So Abdul’s gang member had to do something. He called Abdul over and asked him if he had stolen my phone time, to which he firmly responded no. So Abdul told him that he had to shut me up because I told everyone that he had stolen it. That’s when Abdul came into the cell house wanting to “talk” to me.
Now, back to the encounter. When I squared off with my arms on my hips, Abdul was just about one step from walking inside the mop room. Suddenly he understood I was no longer following him. He then turned around, saw me standing with my arms on my hips, and squared off in front of me. He started shouting, “Why are you saying I stole your phone time? If I have to take something from you, I’ll just beat the crap out of you and take it…” He ranted loudly, and I tried to answer, but I did not want to shout him out. After many attempts to speak without success, I finally just waited for him to take a long breath. When he finally did, I asked, “Will you at least show me proper respect to let me answer?” A messy look washed over his face, then he calmly said, “Sure, what did you want to speak?”
I realized at that instant that this did not have to come to strikes, hopefully. So I put my palms in my pockets as a body language signal to indicate a de-escalation. Then I said, “I have not been telling others that you stole my phone time. They have been walking up to me and telling me that you took it.” Well, that twisted him right back up, and he started repeating the same rant as before about how he could beat me up and take whatever he needed from me, etc. This time, I kept my palms in my pockets and put a “are you done yet?” look on my face. He pulled up on it and paused at last.
- So I inquired, “What do you want from me?”
- “Stop telling others I stole your phone time!” he responded.
- “Done!” I said. Then I added, “I wasn’t telling them that nevertheless”.
- Is there anything else you want to say?” I asked
- “No, I guess not.”, he responded.
- Pressing my luck, I said, “Good, now I need your advice on something.”
A look of uncertainty swept over his face. He asked weirdly, “What can I help with?” I told him that my mom is old and on a close-to-zero income and that my phone time was used to call her to know I was ok. I said to him that collect calls were too expensive (about $20 for 10 minutes), so she sent me phone money to call pre-paid.
Now that my PIN was discredited, I could no longer put money on my phone account without the burglar using it up. If I went to the guard and asked them to change my PIN, odds were good that they’d investigate and use the numbers called to find out who had used my PIN. That would lead to hole time and criminal charges for those involved. Abdul did not want that to happen to him or the people to whom he had allegedly sold the phone time. So I said I was confused about how I was going to stay in touch with my mother. Then the sin of what he had done set in on him without me having to attack him. He then offered to help me out with some pre-paid balance to pay for my mother’s phone calls.
The very next day, I called my mother. I knew she would be as happy as ever, knowing I was alright, alive and fighting for my prison survival. No one picked up. I tried calling again. No response. This went on for four days when I got a message from one of the guards – my mother had died of a heart attack a week ago.