How I Break Prison Rules to Keep in Touch with My Family

By Anonymous |
April 29, 2016

From the column ‘Life Inside’

prison lifeLife Inside is an ongoing collaboration between the Marshall Project and VICE that offers first-person perspectives from those who live and work in the criminal justice system.

The hardest thing about prison is being alone.

It’s very difficult for me to stay in touch with my family. They can’t afford to receive collect calls, and I definitely can’t afford to make any calls from here. Every now and then, I get a letter from someone about the latest death of a loved one or the struggles in the neighborhood in general, but nothing more than that.

As someone who has been in prison for a long time, I’ve learned how to get around the fact that we don’t have enough money to speak to one another. Sometimes I find a sympathetic guard and tell him everything I’m going through — how I’m trying to stay in touch with my family, and how hard it is. And sometimes that guard will go out and buy me a cheap, prepaid cellphone on his day off. He’ll have it activated and bring it into the prison, usually inside his lunch. Then he’ll give it to me when the time is right.

All he asks in return is that I don’t snitch him out if I get caught.

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