Prison Path Excerpt: “The Laughing Inmate” A Snapshop of Prison Life
From the creator of PrisonPath.com: As part of my sentence, I was incarcerated for fifteen months in the Maryland state prison system. My prison path initially consisted of two weeks local time at Clarksburg prison in Montgomery county, and almost 15 months in the Maryland state correctional system. I was imprisoned at Baltimore DOC, MCTC in Hagerstown, and finally Southern Maryland Pre-release. During my journey, I encountered all types of individuals. I observed indifference, cruelty, and random acts of kindness from inmates and correctional officers. I memorialized my travels in a memoir titled “Prisonpath”. I will post an excerpt from “Prisonpath” every month. The excerpts are written snapshots of prison life.
PRISON PATH BOOK EXCERPT: The Laughing Inmate—Baltimore DOC
The new inmate was white, slightly bald, with a bit of a stomach. He was always laughing. The night after he arrived, several of us watched television. At one point, I sat next to the new inmate. He was laughing. I had to ask, “What’s so funny?” We were watching the news.
He did not say anything at first. By and by, we started a conversation. The prison food was always a safe discussion with inmates. I told him, the food was killing me and that it was cruel and unusual punishment.
He laughed, “The food was a lot better than it was several years ago.” According to him, this food was great. I shuddered. He laughed and told me his story.
After serving eight years in several state prisons in Maryland he had been released for several months on parole. He was picked up again for a new charge of housebreaking. He started laughing. He told me, “Now I have to serve out the balance of my original sentence and additional years for the new charge.” I asked him why he laughed so much, but there was no response from him. He waited a few minutes and told me that he had gotten divorced while incarcerated and had not seen his children for many years. He laughed more. He said, “Alcohol caused all of my troubles. Every time I was in trouble, I had been drinking. Alcohol even caused me trouble in prison at MCTC in Hagerstown.”
I looked surprised. He continued laughing and said “I would make alcohol in my cell using sugar and juices. Part of the floor was heated. I used it to ferment. The shit was great and I sold it to other guys for $8.00.” The laughing started again, “I got so shitfaced that the C.O. saw that I was drunk. I received an additional ninety days to my sentence. I did those days locked down in the hole every day.”
I asked, “What is the hole?”
He said, “It’s a tiny dark cell and I was the only one in there. The ninety days ended and I started making it again in my cell. The C.O.’s saw that I was drunk again. I received one hundred twenty more days in the hole. As I was being taken to the hole, I tripped and by accident, and kicked one of the officers. They were so pissed that they beat the hell out of me and broke two of my front teeth.”
The C.O. told him “We’ll drop the charge if you don’t press any charges about what happened with your teeth.” He told me that he accepted the deal. Once again–he laughed.
His parents were rich, but his father had not spoken to him in twenty years. His mother kept in touch and continued to send him money from time to time. “The cells in the other state prisons are much smaller than the ones here,” he said. “The toilet was two feet from the bunks. God help us when one of us had a sick stomach.”
He continued to laugh even more. The CO screamed that we had to go back in our cells. I never found out why he laughed so much.
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