In looking at how prison was portrayed in movies and TV shows, William D. Hastings saw that, for the most part, writers employed broad strokes and generalizations. Having accumulated over a decade (and counting) of hands-on experience, he has expert knowledge about what it’s really like to live behind prison walls. This blog endeavors to use his expert experience and extensive knowledge of prison life to give a better understanding of prison as hilarious or absurd, and intermittently beautiful. Hastings hopes this blog can capture the microcosm of life behind prison walls, as it is indeed a unique world unto itself. Some of the unique prison slang utilized by William D. Hastings can be seen at

Mansion on the Hill

There was a time when I was housed in a cell that was situated just perfectly to see over the cell houses and other assorted buildings, past the parking lot that was perpetually packed with cars, and beyond that to a vast field of green. The expanse ended in a distant line of trees that [...]

Coco and the Hamster

For all his woofing, I honestly don’t think The Hamster actually expected Coco to answer his challenge. His surprise slipped through the façade of bravado just barely before the chink in the armor was cinched closed, but I spied it all the same. There was a touch of fear that accompanied his surprise, and as [...]

Shampoo Deception

To say that my stomach was in my back would be an understatement of epic proportions. At times the burning hunger in my gut felt like it had sprouted its own set of teeth and was actively gnawing its way to my spine. The trick was to eat my Lunchable tray and then move as [...]

Starting Over

When I was twenty-two years old I began to write my first novel—just over a week since I’d committed and was immediately arrested for my horrible crime. Needless to say, I had a lot on my mind. Writing provided me with some much-needed focus lest I lose my marbles wondering and worrying over what the [...]


I was caught in healthcare, stuck there during a scheduled institutional count. What’s worse is that my visit was an unscheduled one made necessary by the gaping wound on my finger that had resulted when I accidentally slammed my hand between two dumbbells. Dumb indeed. Stranded Being an unexpected and emergent situation, I hadn’t been [...]

A Consummate Entrepreneur

DJ never had a job in prison the entire time I knew him, but he was rarely broke. After spending many of his formative teenage years and the bulk of his twenties in prison, he had accumulated several crafty hustles that I’d never before encountered. The objects he fashioned proved to be inexpensive to manufacture, [...]

A Chemical Imbalance

Editor’s note: I feel that perhaps a fair warning is in order. Some of what follows is a bit disturbing. Blood and feces mixed in a sticky mess across the floor and against the thinly padded walls. The pungent aroma was beyond awful, and I couldn’t imagine bleach or disinfectant ever dispatching it entirely. I [...]

Raw Diet

Viscous, greasy fat lay like mucus atop the surface of the wet pack of chili. The larger portion of the contents was a deep red punctuated by dark brown beans and lighter brown bits of beef that tasted nothing like beef but still infinitely better than soy. Then there were the lighter shades of red, [...]

A Shame

The room sat, abandoned. Its disuse was tragic, practically criminal. As I peered across the divide that separated me from it, I could see the varying gradations of dust that had piled up. There was evidence that someone had run his fingers across a table, but that interloper hadn’t been very recent, as even his [...]

On the Rack

In the wake of the orange crush shakedown, I was left without a mat to sleep on. The mat in question had been confiscated presumably because it was deemed too thick. I had also wrapped several extra blankets around it, which made it entirely unauthorized, but completely plush and comfortable (compared to other prison beds, [...]