Not much is universal in American prisons. Every facility has its own way of doing things. Operations and inmate interactions depend on factors such as the facility’s security level and housing setup.
Unfortunately, one thing you will find in every prison is violence. But prisoners don’t usually fight each other just for fun. There is a reason behind the violence — it can be anything from settling a dispute to climbing the political ladder in prison.
There is a social hierarchy in prisons. Fights may break out between prisoners of different social groups over any minor or inappropriate behaviour. Things can get heated over something as small as taking the wrong chair in the TV room. Ironically, violence is also a way to maintain peace between different groups.
A volunteer on the A&E show 60 days Notice that violence is necessary when they are behind bars.
“It’s instilling fear. It’s a party line, and violence is almost like a campaign platform they live on. If someone crosses the line, it checks everything.”
Which leads to today’s blog post: What Happens If You Fight in Prison?
In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:
- What if you lose the fight?
- How frequent are fights in prisons?
- what if someone tries to start a dispute
What if you lose the fight?
In prison, fighting can earn you respect. This can happen whether you win or lose, but you must follow the rules of prison fighting. There are two different types of rules in prisons – prison rulebooks and prisoner rules. A lot depends on different races, gangs and skin colors.
Justice for prisoners can be “quick and brutal,” explained a former inmate at USP Beaumont.
“I’m from Texas, and when I got to USP Beaumont, the commander told me I was on the launch pad,” prison veterinarian Kevin Smith said. “It means the first filthy guy to show up in Texas, I get it.”
Smith went on to say that a few days later a dirty guy showed up — he snitched on someone.
“I saw the paperwork and we were drinking. I ran into his cell while my bf held the door and I shot the snitch three times in the head and he fell like ab-ch. I stomped on him a few times to get him to check it out. Then I sat back in the living room and continued drinking like nothing happened.
If you lose a game, your fate depends on how badly you lose. If you quit too early, you will be considered weak.
“Once you start fighting, after a guy falls or bleeds, he’s not trampled to death,” Smith said. “They pretty much pick him up and ask someone who’s just dropped off if he wants to continue, which he usually does, giving up too quickly means you lose face. But if he gets dropped again, it’s over.”
How frequent are fights in prisons?
The answer to this question depends on the facility. I was in a women’s facility in rural Missouri, so violence was actually rare. Occasionally, you’ll see several women start slapping each other. Maybe someone will even try to pack a punch. But, in my four years, I have seen only a handful of battles.
If a fight did occur, it was usually in a more “private” place, such as a bathroom or an inmate’s room. Fights rarely broke out in public areas with cameras or where guards could see what was happening.
Some male prisons are very violent and fights start as soon as you set foot in the camp. In the Texas prison system, the rule when you first walk in is “fight, f*ck, or hit 60.” The first two are obvious, and the third is slang for paying protection money.
The fight that occurs when you first arrive at the facility is called a “heart check”. The other prisoners want to know that you are willing to fight, because in some facilities you are literally at war.
“When you’re in a constant state of war, you want to make sure your fighters are going to fight,” Smith said.
If you have a problem with a particular prisoner, there is usually no talking or argument in a men’s prison. Most inmates will tell you to “lace up your shoes or tie up your squares”. That means you put on your boots and gloves and head to the bathroom to fight.
It doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong. In prison fights, the only thing that matters is who wins.
what if someone tries to start a dispute
In prison, when someone starts a fight, the only response is to fight back. If you don’t, you’re a punk, and that’s not the kind of fame you want. If you are not willing to defend yourself, you will be used throughout your time in prison.
Most of the time, the damage is minor. And, if the guards saw a fight, they would take the two prisoners to the hole. It doesn’t matter who started it first, or whether you fought back or not. If you touch another prisoner, you go to the hole. So, you might as well make it worth your time.
Are you ready to fight in prison? Let us know in the comments below.
Sources: An aspiring police officer who went undercover in a jail for 2 months describes why 'violence is almost necessary' behind bars This is what it's like to get in a prison fight