Inside: Life Behind Bars in America
Before Orange is the New Black, there was Inside.
American jails and prisons confine nearly 13.5 million people each year. Despite these disturbing numbers, little is known about life inside beyond the mythology of popular culture.
Michael G. Santos, a federal prisoner nearing the end of his second decade of continuous confinement, documents the lives of the men warehoused in the American prison system. Inside: Life Behind Bars in America, his first book for the general public, takes us behind those bars and into the chaos of the cellblock.
Capturing the voices of his fellow prisoners with perfect pitch, Santos makes the tragic―and at times inspiring―stories of men from the toughest gang leaders to the richest Wall Street criminals come alive. From drug schemes, murders for hire, and even a prostitution ring that trades on the flesh of female prison guards, this book contains the never-before-seen details of prison life that at last illuminate the varied ways in which men experience life behind bars in America.
was out of the handcuffs and holding a shank. Fountain attacked all three guards, killing one named Hoffman with multiple stab wounds, some inflicted after the guard had already fallen. Fountain also injured the other two guards, permanently disabling one. After other guards dragged the two who were not killed to safety, Fountain threw up his arms in the boxer’s gesture of victory and, laughing, walked back to his cell. The above cases illustrate the difficulty prison administrators have in
build and confidence. Both are small-time hoods with long criminal histories. They have felony convictions for burglary and drug sales. For each of those offenses, the young men faced sanctions of probation, community service, and jail work-release programs. Their most recent offense is the sale of firearms. Because of their long criminal histories, the judge slammed them with lengthy sentences that brought them into the jaws of the penitentiary. Immediately upon the newcomers stepping off the
lockdown at USP Marion. Because he’s a gang leader, his sixty brothers in Atlanta are willing to abide by his every command. In order to curry favor or lift their standing within the gang, the soldiers must abide by the customs and orders that Lion lays down. When Lion issues an order, the soldiers don’t question. They act. They put in work. In exchange, they enjoy a piece of the power that comes with being part of an organization, albeit one that society and prison administrators frown upon.
folding their hands over each other together to form letter Cs with their fingers. The handshake seals the deal. “I’m a git you ready by tonight, baby boy.” The following morning, while walking into the chow hall for breakfast, Crip Tank sees his homeboy LaLa arguing with Porkchop, one of the Bama boys. The argument, Crip Tank sees, is heated. So he steps between them. “Hold up, cuz,” he says to LaLa. I’ll see you right back. You don’t need to be talkin’ here with all these poe-leases. Onetime
last night.” Frank is thirty-two. He was reared in small Montana communities, places where there is little emphasis on grooming young men for careers. He was kicked out of every school he ever attended for fighting, selling drugs, or both. Frank decided to quit school altogether at fourteen. He did not complete his freshman year of high school. Rather than struggle through the structure and demands of academia, Frank wanted to run free. He supported himself by selling marijuana, cocaine, and