What really goes on in female prisons? People have wondered about this for a long time, and these curiosities have perhaps been stoked by shows like Orange Is The New Black, and certain reality TV shows. But do these shows really show the truth about these correctional facilities? In the end, the only real way to find out what goes on when there's no script and no cameras rolling is to ask people who have actually experienced it. Stories that come straight from the source are always the most accurate and most dependable. You can find these confessions and accounts on sited like Reddit, where prison guards and inmates at female prisons talk freely about their past or current situations, telling the public all kinds of crazy stories.
So how do the TV shows compare to the real thing? Those who have experienced the reality of female prisons will tell you that Hollywood gets some things right, but a lot of things wrong. Most will tell you that for the most part, prison is a lot more boring than what shows depict it to be. But that's not to say that nothing interesting happens. There are plenty of crazy situations that happen in female prisons, and some of them are so shocking that TV shows would never include them in their stories.
So take a trip into an all-female prison, witness what goes on behind closed doors and steel bars, and hear all the gossip that's passed between inmates and guards. It's definitely a fascinating world, and one that is very much different from a male prison. Some of these stories are simply jaw-dropping...
15 Pregnant Women Are In Prison Too - And They Fight
One of the saddest and most disturbing things about all-female prisons is the fact that there are many pregnant women behind bars. You'd think that they would be transferred to a more lenient facility, but they're not given much special treatment. They are simply mixed in with the general prison population, and it's accepted as part of prison life, at least when it comes to female prisons. But these pregnant women aren't any less criminal than the average woman. And as anyone can tell you, pregnant women can be just as angry and unpredictable as other women. In fact, they can often be more emotional due to all the hormones. And as one inmate remembers, they get into fights just like other female inmates.
This ex-inmate tells a story about her first day in prison, where he was put in a cell with an elderly lady and a pregnant woman. She woke up to witness a stunning scene: "The first day I was there I got assigned a bunk next to an old woman and a pregnant girl. I decided to knock out after being in the holding cell for a long time. I woke up to these two crazy b*****s fighting. One of them grabs a cup of boiling water and pours it on the other."
14 Female Inmates Don't Care As Much About Race
Most people know that in male prisons, race is very important. As soon as you enter the prison as a male, you are expected to interact pretty much exclusively with members of your own race. Your race protects you, and different groups have their own spots in the yard which they "own." But this doesn't really happen to the same degree in women's prisons. Women can make friends with members of other races without fear of hatred from their own race. Making friends with people from other races is not something that is frowned upon in the same way as it is in male prisons. What are the reasons for this? It's hard to say, really, but it might have something to do with the tribal instincts that are hardwired into men. It might be that women don't have that tribal, territorial gene hardwired into them, or at least not to the same degree.
One inmate admits: "Race lines aren't as segregated as in men's prison. Yeah, it exists but there were lots of mixed couples and I only saw 'gang related activity' once or twice. Most of my friends in prison were black (I'm white)."
13 Lice Is Common And There's No Real Way To Fix It
Prisons are known for being pretty dirty, and many inmates get lice as a result. The conditions for lice are pretty perfect in prisons, because people are crowded in with each other in close quarters. It's not just a problem with lice, but also various diseases and infections, especially given the fact that they all shower together. But the craziest thing is that there's somewhat of a catch-22 when it comes to lice. The obvious way for women to deal with lice is to use the special shampoo. But one inmate admits that they didn't give her enough of it. She was then told to cut her hair, but if she did so she would have been charged with attempted escape. This is because if you change your appearance enough, it raises suspicions about escape attempts. So she was caught between lice and getting increased prison time. In the end, she just had to suffer for three months...
In her own words, the inmate explained: "I had lice for 3 months because they wouldn't give me enough of that shampoo to kill them all. The infirmary told me to just 'cut my hair.' What's funny about that, is that if I HAD cut my hair, I would've been charged with an escape attempt because radically changing one's hair is considered 'Altering Your Appearance.'"
12 A Girl Got Attacked With A Padlock
Female prisons might not be as violent as male prisons, but they definitely have their moments. Most guards say that female prisons have conflicts that are generally on a level of 5 to 6 out of ten in terms of violence, but they're pretty consistent. Male prisons, by comparison, have conflicts that are either on a level of 1 or 10 in terms of violence. There's no middle ground; it's either a half-hearted insult or attempted murder. But women can get pretty bloody and violent too. Just listen to this story from an inmate:
"I saw a girl get hit in the face with a padlock. The girl had it in her palm and walloped her across the face. Her retina detached and her temple was shattered."
So if you think female prisons are safe and violence-free, think again. Some women are in there for violent crimes, and they can get pretty angry if you push them hard enough. The violence might not be as widespread or as extreme as in male prisons, but there are definitely exceptions.
11 Prison Guards Really Can Be Scumbags
One of the things people are most interested in when it comes to female prisons is what it's like to be prison guard. Some men might see this as the ideal job. Some might be interested to hear what kinds of relationships exist between the guards and the inmates, especially if the guards are male. This is probably the most common "fantasy" many people have about female prisons, but as it turns out, most guards take their job very seriously. Other correctional officers definitely abuse their position of power, and there are countless examples of this from people who have actually been incarcerated. One female inmate even reveals that a prison guard stole her Social Security Card in order to get a loan for college!
The inmate explains: "Another officer stole my Social Security card (we could have them mailed to us a few months before we were released) and used it to get a loan for a local college. I got the bill for the class she took while I was locked up. She signed up for the class, never paid for it or showed up for it and pocketed the money. I had to call the college when I get out and explain how that wasn't me because I was unavailable to the general public for appearances at that time."
10 Relationships Between Guards And Inmates
We know that guards sometimes abuse their power. But what about the thing that everyone wants to hear about? You know what I'm talking about: guards having inappropriate romantic relationships with their inmates. Although people might joke about this kind of thing happening, there's really nothing amusing about it. It amounts to preying on women who are very vulnerable, probably some of the most vulnerable women in society. But as despicable as it is, it still ends up happening, and more than one ex-inmate at a female prison can attest to this. One inmate describes a particularly shocking example, and explains that the act technically qualifies as assault.
The inmate recalls: "Back just a few years ago our chief of security was discovered to have been having s*x with offenders in his private office. He got 10 years for that, 5 suspended. Since we opened (it was a fairly new prison) we have had, I believe, 17 male officers get fired for having 'carnal knowledge' with an offender. In my state, offenders cannot consent so it is considered [s*xual assault] actually. If an offender propositions us we are supposed to write a 'charge,' which is basically a reprimand that can carry a vast range of penalties."
9 Fights Can Get A Little Crazy
We've already heard how female prisoners can get just as vicious as male prisoners on occasion. Getting a padlock to the face is not your average catfight. Guards know that fights can get crazy with female inmates, and as a result, they're always prepared for anything. One of the most common places for fights to break out is in the "chow," or cafeteria. The weapon of choice in these situations is usually a food tray, which can be pretty deadly in the right hands. Whenever this happens, it's pretty wild and officers must act quickly. But one guard tells a story of a particularly wild fight, in which a correctional officer and an inmate ended up getting handcuffed together by mistake!
The guard recalls: "We had a fight in the chow hall between two black offenders. We all rushed in and broke it up but the two offenders were still struggling. One officer, a white woman, was trying to help restrain one of the offenders and another officer accidentally handcuffed one of the offender's arms to the officer's arm. The officer who did the handcuffing didn't "miss." He legitimately thought he was handcuffing the two arms of an offender together. It was hilarious to see one black arm handcuffed to a white arm and it just goes to show you that sometimes you don't think straight in the heat of the moment."
8 Crazy Escape Attempts
Women are just as desperate to get out of prison as men, and just like their male counterparts, some especially desperate inmates attempt to escape. It's always astonishing when you hear about prison escape attempts, as it shows just how resourceful humans can become when they find themselves in a terrible situation. One inmate tells a story of a fellow prisoner who devised a clever and incredibly risky escape attempt. No one really knew about her plan until the last possible second, and her plan fell apart.
In the words of a fellow inmate, here's how she tried to escape: "There was an offender being transported to the hospital at 1 AM because she had swallowed some floor-stri*per. The officers took her to the nearest hospital but they were flooded with patients from a nearby church who had had a potluck dinner and gotten very nasty food-poisoning from it so the officers had to take her to another hospital. Half an hour after they went to a different hospital, a man strides in and asks which room the offender was in. The nurse thought it was suspicious and called some sheriff's deputies who came to question him. They searched his car and found a loaded shotgun in it with a lot of shells. He confessed that he was planning on breaking her out of the hospital and ending anyone in his way with the shotgun if need be. She had written him a letter telling him that she was going to be at the hospital at this date and time by swallowing some floor stri*per and he agreed to come and get her."
7 Self-Harm Does Happen
Suic*des are perhaps some of most shocking incidents in any prison, whether that facility holds male or female inmates. And it does happen in both prisons. Sometimes being behind bars for years and years can get to be too much for many to bear. Despite measures taken to prevent suic*de attempts, people still find a way. But one prison guard tells a story that suggests simply being in prison wasn't enough to push one woman to take her own life. According to her, this particular woman took her own life because of romantic issues. Even more surprising was the fact that it resulted from her ex-girlfriend in prison being transferred and then starting a relationship with another woman.
The guard revealed: "We have had 1 suic*de "success" in our years of operations. Offender Smith (which is a made up name for this mentally ill lady) was "dating" Offender Jones, who then got transferred to our re-entry program (6 months until they get out). Offender Jones then started to "date" another offender in the re-entry program and Smith did not know about that. Offender Jones and the other lady got out and started a full blown relationship, and Smith got a letter from Jones telling her it was over because she had met someone else. Smith [took her own life]. She only had 2 more years of her sentence."
6 Prison Guards Get Hit On... A Lot...
Another confession comes not from a prison guard or an inmate, but from the wife of a correctional officer. Her husband was apparently constantly being hit on and flirted with, and even harassed. Obviously the first instinct is to chuckle at something like this, but the truth is that the majority of these men are just trying to do their job. Some of them are just doing it in order to move on to better careers, like the US Marshals, for instance. But while the wife reveals that her husband was flirted with, she also revealed that inmates were constantly listening to his conversations, remembering details and even trying to manipulate them using the information they had learned.
The wife revealed, "My husband worked in both with the men's prison he worked at eventually being turned into a women's one. Men were more violent but also less manipulative. Women were very manipulative and petty about dumb stuff. The women were always listening, too, and would know personal information about the guards, where as the guys didn't care. At most, the guys only ever tried to talk to him about his big dumb truck, while the women knew small details about my pregnancy, despite the fact that I never even remotely went near the prison. For the record, he never spoke with them about personal stuff, but one inmate would hear the guards talking and it would spread like wildfire. Plus, he says he had never been harassed so much in his life."
5 What The Real Piper And Larry Say
Real fans of the Netflix show Orange Is The New Black know that the character of Piper is based on a real woman. The show is actually based completely on her real experiences in prison, and it's always amazing when stories like this have at least a shred of truth to them. It seems inconceivable that some of the things which happened in the show actually happened in real life. But you know what they say – truth is stranger than fiction. As it turns out, one person on Reddit claims to have met the real Piper and Larry, and she actually managed to speak with her. She said that Piper actually said prison was extremely boring, but the show added certain things in because nobody would want to watch a boring show about waiting around in a prison while nothing happened.
According to the Reddit user, "I met the real Piper and Larry at a conference I attended, and talked to them for a while. Piper said that the show is not very much like her actual prison experience. Actually being in prison, she said, is incredibly boring. Boring, boring, boring. When Jenji was writing the show outline, she told Piper that she understands that the show is nothing like the actual experience, but if she wrote it like it actually was, no one would watch it because it would be boring boring boring. Piper and Larry were both extremely friendly, and were happy to talk about the show and their own experiences at the time. Mostly, however, Piper talks about prison reform."
4 Toilet Paper Fashion Shows
The real Piper made it clear that the biggest challenge facing women in prison is not fights, creepy guards, or lice; It's boredom. Being in prison is like putting your life on pause, and each day can feel like an eternity. They say time flies when you're having fun – and so it makes sense that the boring life at prison would pass by painfully slowly. Some females take the time to read, get degrees, or even learn new skills. But as one female inmate reveals, some days they resort to even wilder things to pass the time...
She states, "No one took my food, no one tried to mol*st me, no one harassed me in the showers. My cellmate was a nice girl that was a prost*tute and addict. We played dominoes and cards all day. I would read. She even let me use her calling card until I got my own and I paid her back by letting her use mine. A few girls had relationships, but they are heavily frowned upon so they were kept secret. One week to pass the time, because time moves soooooooo slowly in jail, the cellblock had a fashion show out of toilet paper clothes."
3 When The Entire Prison Is Forced To Quit Smoking
There are a few luxuries that inmates are given in female prison. These offer rare distractions from the depressing situation of being incarcerated, and these luxuries are incredibly important to most inmates. The most obvious example of this is cigarettes. Those rare few moments that they can puff on a cigarette make them feel like human beings again, at least for a few moments. So you can understand what the reaction of the inmates was like when it was announced that all prisoners would be encouraged to quit smoking – forcibly. This meant they were no longer allowed to smoke, and things got a little crazy in that prison, to say the least. Everyone started to go through the withdrawal symptoms, and they were literally at each other's throats in no time at all. In retrospect, this might not have been the best decision from the prison authorities.
The ex female inmate recalls: "I never really had many problems, only one fight. When I originally got there we could smoke. This changed while I as there so all 30 of us had to quit smoking together, all locked up in a room together and THAT was rough. Lots of fights, and I even saw one girl take a giant bite out of another one's side like a gremlin."
2 Orange Is The New Black Is NOT Accurate At All
Many people praise Netflix's show Orange Is The New Black for its realism and accuracy. But according to one prison guard, the show is actually not very accurate at all. She points out one instance in particular: the character that was allowed to drive around in a van. According to this guard, this would never be allowed to happen. But many fans of the show are willing to forgive these little inaccuracies in favor of an entertaining show. As the real Piper herself says, the show would be pretty boring otherwise.
One prison guard points out: "It is not like OITNB. Inmates have very little freedom. The inmate driving the van around in OITNB? HAHAHHAHAHAHHAA. No. Inmates are shackled wrists to ankles every time they leave the secure perimeter, regardless of charges."
1 A Girl Was Abused By Inmates
The thing we haven't yet touched on when it comes to female prisons is harassment and assault. This is a pretty controversial subject, although it is the subject of many a male fantasy. Inappropriate relationships between women in prison is apparently quite common, and s*xual assault is not unheard of either. But while many men like to fantasize about this situation, the reality is that it is much less attractive than one might think. These women are often overweight, unhealthy, or just don't look their best. But one inmate told a story of a rare occasion when one of the most attractive blonde women in the prison was assaulted by a group of other inmates. According to the rumors in the prison, she actually enjoyed it.
The inmate describes recognizing her after she got out: "I was at a show with my boyfriend and I see this really pretty blonde girl go by. I yell 'Hey! Tiffany!' So a friend of ours is all 'Wow... she's cute... where do you know her from?' It broke his heart when I told him that she'd had a train pulled on her involving a broomstick and LIKED it. She got [assaulted] because she was a flirt. Like I said, she enjoyed it."