When they call you're name on the loudspeaker and tell you to pack it up
cause you're on the chain that night going from the County in which you were
sentenced to the State Prison System, for the uninitiated it can be a bit
unsettling and disturbing. Grab you a comfy seat and settle in cause I want
to walk you through step by step what it's like when you are actually
through with the waiting, anticipation and worry and are finally herded like
cattle onto a chain bus heading non-stop on the Bluebird to the Big House.
In most states this type of movement takes place in the dead of night and
it's no wonder since the creepy crawlies and the freaks come out at night.
You just don't move masses of people against their will to a degenerate
enviornment in the light of day. Rather that type of suspect behavior blends
in nicely with the dead of night. The graveyard shift is the time to shuttle
a man from his familiar surroundings and all that he knows off to an
inhospitable world in which fact is most times stranger than fiction.
Everything about that bus and the bus ride seems ominous. From the handcuffs
connected by chains to the emblem of the Bluebird on the side of the bus,
even the chicken wire and metal grates welded to the windows, it just
creates a very sinister appearance and makes the heart's of most inmates
When people are in the county already sentenced or being held without bond
alot of idle chit chat is spent over speculation of what exactly to expect
once they get to the joint. The seasoned pros who have already endured a few
rodeos on the inside try to lace up the new boots with larger than life
stories of the bigger than life scenes that take place behind the wire. Some
seasoned cons take on a paternal instinct towards the youngsters, especially
if their hustle is getting handouts due to their supposed seniority and
expertise in all matters prison. These professional cons will tell stories
running in duration for hours and the embellishments become more fanciful
and more pronounced as the free coffee and free grub is abundantly shared.
These types of storytellers will let the green newboots off easy and make
prison sound like a wonderful place to travel to and have an adventure worth
writing home about. LOL. As long as they are fed and full and have a good
buzz from some strong coffee they my as well spin a yarn worthy of an old
campfire tale in the days of the Wild West.
Then on the other hand you have the seasoned con who will make no bones
about it and remains stern and contemptible in his reckonings of prison life
knowing full well these youngsters are in for a bout of misery and
homesickness to such a harsh degree that it could make the average man or
womans blood curdle and their hair to stand on end. Some of the cons in this
camp find solace in the old addage "Misery loves company". They already know
full well from experience that there is nothing pleasant or even remotely
nice about doing time in the penitentiary so they lay the darkness and
misery full bare for all to hear so they will not be the only one whose
heart has once again been broken and who is suffering so immensely inside
that they can find no solace. While you're in the county waiting on that
chain bus that's all you hear about is what it's like in prison, good or bad
you really just don't know what awaits you if you've never been cause you've
heard so many conflicting tales of glory and woe. Your curiosity is piqued
and you lay awake in bed at night wondering what exactly it's like. Guess
you'll just have to get there and see and live it for yourself to know what
it's really like.
There is a grain of truth in the phrase "Prison is what you make it".
Although the circumstances will never be nice while you're in the gulag, you
can achieve a transcended spiritual and mental superiority over the
situation. Like Paul in the Bible you can learn to rejoice in and find peace
in all things which come your way despite the horrible conditions you are
expected to exist under. Men first going in though are confused and most
have taken to heart one truth from all stories that they have listened
fervently to from the ones who have gone there before them, and that is they
feel an overwhelming desire to make a name for themselves. All prison
stories usually boil down to a perceived importance in earning respect from
others. Once you have it it appears you can have an easy stay for the rest
of your tenure in the slammer. Once you have it, according to the tales of
the cons, who have tread in these footsteps before you, you can also pretty
much get what you want and have alot of the same amenities and luxuries of
home. Of course all of this is far off the mark but try telling that to a
youngster who has been had and bought into the fable of the adventure and
grandeur of the joint. All the tales of respect in prison also have one
predominant underlying theme, violence! So while still in the county the
youngster works out like he's training for the olympics and pars it up on
his boxing game. Once they get there though and see it for what it is they
quickly realize that the hog they were sold by the older, hardened and
wisened con was a story much too good to be true. Now they are stuck and
must learn to survive and get through years of misery and monotony. The
adventure and grandeur that the travel brochures promised just aren't
As you ride down that freeway on the bluebird you can't help but to stare
out the windows at the passing sites. Especially as you leave your hometown
you make sure to look at the scenes and you wonder how many years will
elapse before you see the same sites on a Greyhound bus on the return leg of
this unwanted journey. You get depressed and a sinking feeling overwhelms
you as the realization grasps you firmly and you know in your knower that
much will have changed and nothing will be the same once you return. You
begin to pray that you actually do return one day. The truth of the matter
is that for some who have travelled this same road before you under the same
exact same circumstances never returned again but exited those prison gates
in a pine box. The wheels roll on taking you closer to your destination. At
first everybody is animated and incessant chatter abounds. But as the trip
reaches the halfway point the excitement has fizzled out and the inmates are
ready for some much needed ZZZzzzzs. Who knows they may need all their
energy soon to squabble fiercely and take care of business. Who knows what
the future holds? No one. So you my as well sleep. The bus becomes quiet and
the hypnotic lull of the wheels on pavement plays like a soundtrack on a
You wake up and realize you've got to piss. A quick assessment of the
situation tells you this will be no easy task. Not only are you handcuffed
with chains securing the space between both your cuffs but your cuffs are
connected by a chain to the cuffs of the man in the seat next to you. So you
tell him your dilemma and ask for a little cooperation. So both of y'all
stand up and work your way to the front of your section of the bus where the
john is located. You have to maneuver yourself so the man you are connected
to is facing away from you then with one hand try to work the toilet. No
easy feat I'm here to tell you! There's also an igloo cooler with water and
cups above the water so both of you decide to take advantage of this, after
you both have taken a leak, and have a soothing shot of water before you
haphazardly manipulate your way back down the long row of seats to your
respective seats. This is a lengthy bus ride and you have been provided with
a "johnny sack" lunch back at the county to take with you. Of course it
consists of two peanut butter sandwiches so after you have partaken of them
and curbed your appetite your mouth is all but glued shut and your throat
couldn't be any more parched if you had been out for a 10 hour stroll in the
Mojave desert. So you and your chain partner once again gerrymander your way
up the aisle and to the igloo cooler to fill up that tiny little cup of
water and temporarily quench your thirst.
Everybody's starting to wake up now as the sunrise is rising ever so slowly
above the horizon. The new day is here to greet these unfortuantes and many
wonder what the new day will hold for them. It can't be anything nice. Road
signs are read and the seasoned cons who have travelled this same route a
few times previously on these Bluebirds begin to assess how far out they are
from Diagnostics. Some say an hour and some say two, it doesn't matter much
one way or the other to you cause you are ready come hell or high water to
get off this damn cattle car and to have the cuffs taken off and stretch
your aching muscles. As the sun rises higher and higher on the horizon the
heat cranks up with a quickness. Inmates have to work together to get the
windows open and some damn near break their arms in the process since their
hands are cuffed and connected to another man to add insult to injury. It's
hard but it gets done and cool air begins to roll into your nostrils and the
country scenery flashes by below. The bus takes an exit and you know it
can't be far now. This is the moment of truth and what you have been waiting
for. No time for fear now.
A mile or so further down the road you see the sign announcing that you are
entering prison property. You turn off onto a small road which is only paved
with gravel. As far as the eye can see you see agricultural crops. There
appears to be no end to them and you wonder how man inmates slave away daily
to keep these crops thriving so. Will you have to one day work some
identical crops as this?! Your imagination wonders. The guard tower looms up
ahead and the bus comes to a stop alongside it. The shotgun seated guard
gets out and places all guns into a large burlap bag which is lowered down.
The guard in the tower lifts these up. No firearms are allowed on the main
prison property. Think about it for a second. If you ran a prison would you
want an arsenal of guns on the main prison property where it would be
possible to one day have the inmates gain possession of the guns, take
hostages and have a shoot out if they didn't get their demands?! I didn't
think so, so now your brain registers why this is procedure. The Bluebird is
gun free and it is waved along. You approach the back gates of the prison
and the bus is brought to a halt once again. This time a guard with a long
pole with an attached ample sized mirror on the end of it goes all around
the bus as he searches for anything, as in contraband, hidden underneath the
bus. When it is determined the bus is contraband free, it is passed through
and the second set of gates is opened. You are now onto the grounds of the
main penitentiary. The Bluebird has reached it's destination and you are at
You're already aware that your stay at diagnostics will likely take a few
weeks and it's possible it could run into months. It just all depends on how
they classify you and how much bed space is available in general population
for the prison system at large. One thing is for cetain, you are at the big
house now. The doors are opened and two by twos the inmates file out. The
sun is blinding and you squint as you look around to survey your new
surroundings. As the inmates exit they are quickly shuffled off into the
backdoor of a large red brick building. Some guard ahead who looks like a
major red neck is screaming at everyone and telling them to hurry up and
shut up and file into a holding pen. You quickly shuffle by cause no matter
how tough or bad you decided you might be in the county you realize now that
you are way out of your league as a first timer and figure you best comply.
Smile. Ain't life grand?!!......Tomorrow I will continue this article and
write the second part which reports what exactly all takes place while in
Diagnostices. Look for it. Keep The Faith!!! Postnote. The second part has been done and will be ran shortly.
Boy I did 7 years in prison, and took my chained bus ride in 95...at least you guys can piss standing -- us women couldn't do that while chained together! And I went in the winter, and we get no bras, and no panties, and had to wear jelly shoes with no socks while transported!! BRRRRR....
Thanks for the post, my friend was just transported last week and we haven't heard from him yet. I look forward to hearing about diagnostics, as I know that this is the stage he is in right now. I thought that it was called reception, but it helps knowing what he might be going through. Is Federal pretty much the same as state? He was transferred to Florence FCI. Thanks so much for your informative posts!
LadySoldier this exact point you made came up on a couple of other sites. LOL. I can only imagine the dilemma you female prisoners must've faced as y'all tried to relieve yourselves while handcuffed together. Talk about tricky. Ha ha. Sorry. Men are better equipped to take a leak on a chain bus so I only can imagine the suffering you gals must've experienced.
BearPaw thankyou for your kind words and support. The Diagnostics article will be up shortly. People with loved ones inside just have a curiosity that is healthy to understand what their loved ones are going through. I hear this all the time and so I write. Stay Strong and Keep the Faith.
Wow, i could feel my adrenaline building up as i got further and further into your article! lol
This sort of reminds me of the bus rides when i wrestled back in High School, lots of anxiety and uncertainty. Although they are both very, very different situations i guess i can get somewhat of an idea of what that bus ride must have felt like. Anyways, awesome read and I look forward to the next one.
Well what a descriptive post the journey to hell or what, Saying that here in England they transport cons during the day, the transports are nicknamed sweatboxes. On a truck chassis is a body with 1 man cells, usually a dozen or so to a small one.You go in cuffed, then cuffs off and locked in one of the cells, no matter how long the journey they are not unlocking the cell door, so tough. In the uk from court you go to the local jail, which can be a "B"catagory which is secure, to a Double "A" which is I suppose the same as your supermax facilitys. There you are dumped straight into mainstream. A culture shock to say the least.But yeah pretty daunting first time, but its just fear of the unknown, if you have been there before it's a case of "oh no I've got to go through this shit again"!!
DMH 28 yeah that's the way it is. The tension for most escalates as they draw ever closer to the prison grounds. Fear of the unknown always exacerbates regular tension. Different people react differently when stressed. Some fold up and break and some become a thriving tiger. I'm a writer so have tons of articles and will run more here soon. Thanks for your interest.
ColinUK thanks for sharing the way it is in Britain. At least y'all have made improvements in your treatment of prisoners and no longer send them off to a penal camp in Australia. LOL. What you described sounded like a rolling and mobile administrative segregations. I'm an author so I have quite of bit of work out and will run more here soon. Stay strong and Keep the Faith.
Becky hi and thanks alot!!! I know you're excited about Travis coming home with a quickness. That's great and congratulations! Tell him I send my regards. Yes actually I do have an article about release, all leading up to it and the bus ride home. I'll have to dig it out of one of my files. I have to find which one. Hee hee. Not to worry I have hard copies of everything too. If you'd like to see it let me know and I'll locate it. Take care Keep the Faith!
Yes! Yes! Yes! Please do post it Kenneth. He will be released on a Monday which means he will be leaving Pack-1 Friday Morning and spending a lovely weekend at the Walls! Ugh! But I will be there bright and early Monday morn to pick him up!! (smile) But yes I would love to read your article on this... Thank you~
Ken, I am new to the Board and have just read this post of yours for the first time.I am going to do a search for more of your writing. This is enormously helpful and so well written. I work with families of the incarcerated and will be printing this out if it's okay with you to start a
file. If you have not posted about the ride OUT please do so. Thanks, Angel Muffin
ken, i pm'ed you earlier and am reading your posts...wow...did you write all of this while you were incarcerated....the one about the convict or inmate was so sad .....i think i have a convict on my hands ....i printed this to send to him.....maybe he doesn't feel the same way
~~~"Our virtues are most frequently but our vices in disguise."~~~~
François duc de La Rochefoucauld
Anglemuffin hello! Nice to meet you. I am happy you benefitted from my articles and feel others will as well. I have quite a bit of material written on the truth of prison life and I encourage you to use the search here to look it all up. I'm also going to be responding to your PM in a bit so please look for it. Me and Lulu are heavily involved with prison activism and support work so we look forward to chatting with you soon. The article about the ride out will be posted tomorrow per the request of Becky previously. I'll run another new article up here today in this forum about the Prison Intake. Stay strong and Keep the Faith!
Becky not to fear writer man is here. Smile. I'll run that particular article tomorrow since he'll be at the Walls with his hat on tight for the weekend. I'll put an article up today about Prison Intake-Diagnostics and the one you requested tomorrow. Have a great weekend! Lulu says "Hi"!
Samiam howdy! Glad the articles shed some light on the situtation. I did alot of writing while incarcerated and had 27 articles published in magazines. These articles you see now were generated off my keyboard since I flew the coop. I have tons of work already done and a book deal. I'll continue to run installments up here. I will answer your PM before I get off here. Have a great weekend.