A Success Story: Justin L. Donohue

By Justin L. Donohue  Image courtesy I wanted to let you know that I really appreciate these messages (Prison News Service). I have learned so much since I started reading them. I also wanted you to know that as of last Friday, I am one of 12 inmates that were able to graduate mid-year

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Famous Prisoners: Where Are They Now?

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Where are the legends who were seen indulging in gourmet entrees and sipping fine wines at the trendiest restaurants, but are now waiting in chow lines to dine?  Where is former billionaire Raj Rajaratnam, who swapped illegal stock trading for commissary stamp trading?

Ja Rule, the famous rapper, caught for not filing his income taxes ended-up filing for parole.

The only three piece suits these former dignitaries wear now are composed of handcuffs, leg irons, and waist chains.   

From Wall Street to movie sets and recording studios, many renowned people have gone from a posh to prison. Other notables have become renowned for the crime that landed them behind bars. 

Phil Spector 

Remember the haggard pouty-lipped Phil Spector, the rock star who produced such hits as “Da Doo Ron Ron,” and “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling?” Well, he must of lost that “loving feeling” when he was convicted of killing 40-year-old actress, Lana Clarkson. Spector allegedly shot his date after a night of drinking. 

Inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, Spector was later inducted into the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, Corcoran, Calif. in 2009 for 19-years to life. When Mr. Spector is eligible for parole he will be 88-years-old. 

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7 Prison Survival Secrets

By Christopher Zoukis /

Surviving a term of incarceration is no cakewalk. For all first-time prisoners, the transition from free-world living to prison culture is abrupt, extreme, and caustic. It’s like nothing else, and there are very real consequences to violating the unspoken codes of decorum and the concept of “respect,” a term which takes on a whole new meaning in the prison context.

Image courtesy

This article presents seven secrets to surviving a term of incarceration. By internalizing and abiding by these principles, anyone new to prison culture will save themselves a lot of strife and possibly violent encounters.

In short, they can transform potential hard time to easy time.

Secret One: Don’t Snitch

The number one rule in prison is to not snitch. There is no worse crime in prison culture than to inform on a fellow prisoner. When serving time in prison, inmates often see others engaging in unsavory, unethical, or even illegal conduct. This is simply the way it is in prison. When such conduct is observed, the inmate should simply look away, continue on with whatever they were doing, and keep the knowledge of what transpired to themselves. When someone is found to have informed on fellow prisoners, they are usually either assaulted or “checked in” (forced to go into protective custody). By refusing to provide the prison administration with information, this very dangerous trap can be avoided in its entirety.

While there may be instances when it appears that keeping one’s mouth shut can result in disfavor from the powers that be, those consequences pale next to what can happen to a prisoner who is identified as a snitch by his fellows.

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Mentor vs. Tutor: Battle of Both Worlds

By Andres Aznar

In a world like ours – mostly free and full of possibilities – exists a threat. It affects virtually all of the world’s population. It’s called: “The Decision.” Decisions are made in seconds. In fact, without decisions, our lives would be meaningless. Naturally, we strive to make the right decisions in our short lives. However, every decision we make has its own consequences, good and bad. The decisions we choose to make in life can bring many rewards, like success in life or the creation of a better future for our children and their children. Good decision-making can also foster a life with fewer struggles and better opportunities.  Image courtesy

Some possess an enhanced ability to make decisions which allow positive consequences. They weren’t born with that ability. They just had very good guidance when they were children and while they were growing up. As such, those men and women are geared for success. Much comes easy to them. They’re the ones you remember from high school. The ones that you envied because they were always receiving perfect scores with seeming ease.

On the other hand, for some people, their life is a struggle: a struggle to make ends meet; a struggle to be the best that they can be. They try and try but always get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. While this is a challenging situation to be engulfed in, it illustrates a very telling contrast. By asking themselves, “Why is it so easy for those other people to succeed, but not me?” The answer – and their shortcomings – is evident: Guidance.

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What Massachusetts Prisoners Blog About

By Jean Trounstine Prisoners are probably one of the last groups anyone would expect to have access to their own blog. Some might argue that they should never get such a privilege. But keeping in mind that more than 95 percent of prisoners will one day return to society, we might consider how we want

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How Should an Inmate Deal With Troublemakers

By George Hook

Before a targeted inmate goes off half-cocked, gets physically aggressive and winds up in more trouble than an antagonistic inmate or Correctional Officer has caused or can cause other, better options should be considered as alternatives.  Physical retaliatory aggression would constitute a crime subject either to official judicial or administrative action and punishment.  So that should be out completely.  What might be even more troublesome is ever escalating retaliation. “Kicking one’s can down the road,” to paraphrase from the current Congressional Fiscal Standoff, is not a viable solution. 

First, figure out what is causing the antagonism.  Parsing the cause is possible from observation, inquiry, and reputation.  Everyone will know something, at least, about a targeted inmate’s antagonist.  If the cause can be eliminated or modified, that should be done as the best, most expeditious solution.  A manner of speaking, an objectionable expression, a misperception may be easily corrected.  Self-awareness is a virtue, especially in prison.  Anger is not.

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America’s attitude toward crime is based on geography and personal experience.  People living in Fargo, North Dakota worry less about crime affecting them personally than, say, people living in Oakland, California. 

Most Americans don’t believe that criminals are congenitally hardwired to commit crimes.  According to most people, the immediate causes of crime are illegal drugs and a lack of adequate deterrents.  Thus criminals involved in the use, distribution, sale, and possession of illicit drugs should be locked away for lengthy periods of time.  Harsher sentencing laws and harsher prisons serve to discourage future criminals is the general opinion. 

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Three Hots and a Cot

By Robert Tashbook

I’ve always wanted to be a travel writer, staying in exclusive resorts, eating meals fit for a king. An ad in a writing magazine finally provided my big break. They wanted neophyte travel writers seeking to get into this exciting business. The only requirement was to visit an appropriate location and write a review. They would select the best one and offer the writer a contract.

Luckily for me, I was currently at a fine establishment — part of a national chain with over 100 locations — offering both lodging and dining. Hopefully then, this review will launch me on my new career.

Security seems to be the watchword at this resort. The burnished aluminum security bars on the tinted windows are more for show, but the twenty-four hour armed guard at the front, the multiple razor-wire topped fences, and the roving patrols really drove the point home. Unfortunately, when I learned most of the fifty-foot tall perimeter guard posts were unmanned, I began to doubt that the advertised “500,000 volt electric fence” was strong enough to do more than roast marshmallows.

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65 Cents a Day Doesn’t Do It for Me

It’s either funny or pathetic to envision, but flirting happens quite often. I think some of the men are actually hoping for sexual favors from me, even though I could almost be their grandmother. Trust me, if they could get away with it that is where they would go with it. A female teacher could be 300 pounds, have all kinds of zits on her face and be 92 years-old, and they would still flirt with her, because there aren’t too many females around. But, usually, the main reason is they are trying to manipulate, to soften up, or to charm. They will make little comments like, “Those earrings are really pretty, Ms. Chamberlin.” “Your hair is really ‘new school’.” “That color looks great on you.”  “You look like you’re no more than 35 or 40.”  Seriously!  They say silly things like that!
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Providing College To Prison Inmates Series (Part 5)

This is the fifth blog post in the ‘Providing College To Prison Inmates Series.’ This series is based upon seven ‘Recommendations for Policy and Practice’ presented by Contardo on pages 154 through 156 of her text Providing College To Prison Inmates.

“Borrow lessons learned from other states and adapt them to fit circumstances.” –Contardo (pg. 155)

Creating effective correctional educational programming is challenging. The same is true of creating anything new. But within the prison setting, many more challenges present themselves challenges like the ones addressed in the fourth blog post of this series.

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