If movies and TV are to be believed, prison is pretty much always terrifying. Prisoners are always just one scene away from being beaten to death, sentenced to more time for things they didn't do, or being forced to join a gang to be safe.
Thing is, prison isn't always that way. Obviously we aren't recommending that any of you go give it a shot - we're saying that yes, it can be terrifying and be all of those things - but that even in a place like that, you're likely to find little moments of kindness and humanity.
Reddit User CorrectHorseReader asked:
Unsurprisingly, a lot of the responses revolved around food. When there's not much else available, you show kindness with what you've got on hand.
Oranges For Meth
I was in the Denver city jail for a stay of a few days. When I came in, I was (deliberately) ready to crash from a meth binge. When you come out of a crash like that you generally crave sugar. Good luck with that in jail but I wanted to sleep through the time.
Well, I slept for three or four days as expected, waking only for meals. My cellies, who did not know me and never would know me, woke me to eat. When I finally came off the crash and woke up for real, there were half a dozen oranges in my bunk. The guys had saved their orange ration for two days so I'd have the sugar and carbs my body was desperate for.
Other people did nice things for me but that was really kind of them, and I a stranger to them. I'm in recovery now. One day at a time.
Candy From A Hit ManGiphy
My uncle was in prison while I was a child. At one point, he was in with a known hit-man. This bloke was big news, you had to hide under a rock to not know about him. The media portrayed him as evil personified.
My mum forgot to bring coins for the vending machine and, being a tiny child with a clear view of candy, I wanted a mars bar. Mum said no, because she didn't have the money, but if I could wait a little, she'd get me one on the way home.
Anyway, our visit coincided with the big bad guy getting a visit too. He asked his guest if he could borrow a couple bucks, asked my mum if it was ok, and took me to the vending machine to pick out whatever treat I wanted. He was genuinely lovely, and my uncle told me later the bloke was always really polite to staff and people on work duties.
A Little Care
I was in a small county jail for like a week. I was an emotional and scared wreck and my cell mate lent me her shampoo for a nice shower. When I was done, she used her rollers to curl my hair, plucked my eyebrows with string (threading), shared her juice and played Uno with me all night. Just pampered me. Really changed my perspective on things, honestly.
I was in jail with a guy named Cowboy. Cowboy had done a few stays and had plenty of stories.
The one that stuck with me was when a fellow inmate was depressed because he was missing his birthday, so what all the other inmates did was use a bunch of their commissary to buy a handful of honey buns, some M & M's and some chocolate, mix the honey buns with water and mash em together, melt the chocolate in their hot pot then squeeze em onto the buns and cover it with the M & M's.
It wasn't much but it made the guy cry apparently.
Sharing Is Caring
I spent spent time at a boy's camp (think Holes, but in northern Cali.) On our birthdays the staff would chip in and buy the birthday kid dinner from a restaurant of their choice.
I remember this one kid asked for a giant 3 foot burrito and cut everyone a piece so we could all celebrate.
I've never been to prison, but my brother did some time. There was a terrorist attack in my city while he was there. When he saw it on the news a guard gave him their cell phone to call me and make sure I was ok.
I had a relative who was in prison. The artists there were amazing. They would draw Precious Moments characters on paper and fold it to make a card for other prisoners' kids. They would use water and a brush to lift the ink from newspaper comics to watercolor paint the cards.
I thought how sweet that these artists care about others guys' kids so much to use their talent to make them special cards for their birthdays.
St. Ives Is a Real SaintGiphy
Worked as a Correction Officer for 7+ years. One day some dude tied a noose around his neck and went over the rail from the second range. His feet were maybe 7 feet from the ground. Another dude (lifer who had a death sentence commuted) ran over with a chair, stood on it and picked up the dude by his legs to relieve the pressure off the guys neck while staff was still responding.
The attempter was sent to the state's psych unit, other dude (he went by St. Ives due to his skin's unquenchable thirst for lotion) went about his business. I believe he got some certificate recognizing his action by the warden.
Someone get beat up by the guards for a really minor thing. The other prisoners all rallied and gave him some extra food and drinks til he felt better.
One Phone Call
I was arrested for driving while my license was suspended. I didn't know my license was suspended as I held an out of state one that I assumed transferred over (ikr. Wasn't smart enough to know that was not a thing.) Turns out I had two warrants in two counties for the same thing and couldn't be released until I paid both.
I had no one to call since I'm not in contact with my family. I've just been mulling through faking it with friends. I have a son but his dad and I were in the middle of an ugly custody battle so calling him gave him leverage. I don't have a support system nor friends who knew me well enough to go "hey we haven't heard from her and she usually calls or texts me let me do a wellness check on her." I was virtually alone with no way to tell someone to call work for me or to get my keys to feed my dog and let him out.
Of course, I have none of any of my friends numbers memorized so I had no one to call and say where I was.
I sat on that bench crying and the female officer asked me if there was anyone I could call. I explained to her in choked back tears the issue of how I have no family and no number memorized and she said "Ok. Wait til the heads leave and I'll get your phone and let me take a number."
I would have 5 seconds literally to write it down and she had to put it back in my property. I could have hugged her but I was still cuffed. I finish getting processed in and time ticks by. Hours pass but eventually she takes me out and slides me my phone. I turn it on and as I round the corner she hands me a pen and a slip of paper. I quickly jot down the last number I texted and made my one call.
Had it not been for her, I would have just been gone emotionally and mentally.. A few days later, I saw her and mouthed thank you. I owe her honestly. There was no one who would look for me or ask where was I at. I worked but had no work friends and I live alone. My family and I are estranged. I spent 10 days in jail on this thing.
That officer literally saved my life. Universe knows where my poor dog would have been, what my place would've looked like... if I would've been robbed. Because of her, I went home to my home in tact and my puppy. I wanted to send her an edible arrangement or flowers or something but I couldn't. It wasn't allowed. I wish I could tell her how she helped me.
I have now memorized one phone number just in case something happens again. I will never forget her kindness.
- Ex-prisoners of reddit, what is the nicest thing you have seen people ... ›
- What was the nicest thing you ever seen done in prison by a guard ... ›
Racism is an insidious, and unfortunately prevalent, force in all of our daily lives. Maybe we're on the receiving end of it, being treated differently and losing opportunities because of others' preconceived notions.
Or maybe we're on the other side of things. Even those who aren't actively racist or discriminatory still have to process the world through the filters of the things they've been told about people who are different.