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

Sniff Signals

The sharp inhalation of air sounded out in the night for a second time, but I was engrossed in the task before me and registered it like a pesky housefly—hovering on the periphery as a tiny annoyance, but nothing more, and ignored easily enough. It took a few more of these distinct noises to remind [...]

Captive Audience

Deprivation I spent three years in county jail never seeing the sky or feeling the sun shine on my face for more than a handful of hurried minutes at a time, and that only happened every few months to walk across the street to the courthouse for a hearing. The longest stretch between bouts of [...]

Abuse of Authority

Crockett had a relatively legitimate complaint, but he went about seeking relief for his issue in the entirely wrong way. First, he began by cussing out the two C/Os who refused to let him out of his cell to use the phone—never a good opening tactic. Less Than Professional It was Crockett’s scheduled day for [...]

Human DVR

I arrived back in my home joint after a two-week stint in the birdcage that felt like longer than a month. It was my second visit to that unique hell of a holding facility, and I was both enormously relieved and hugely grateful to be back in more familiar surroundings that weren’t so terrifyingly intimidating. [...]

Afro Nest

  “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!” The writer of the book of the Bible Ecclesiastes probably had something more profound and overarching in mind when he wrote those words, but they also encapsulate the mindset of Big Mac perfectly. Profoundly Portly Big Mac was not named ironically—he was a big fella, and not an [...]

The Blind Spot

There is a place on the grounds of the penitentiary which I currently call home where, during specific times of the year and at certain strategic points of the day, I can disappear. Timing is Everything Once the weather has changed and the world is dying all around, it’s too late to take advantage of [...]

Dry Socket

When some of my fellow inmates told me to be careful of developing dry socket, I thought it was some kind of stupid prison myth or joke. It certainly sounded fabricated to me. The first time I had to open wide for the dentist, it was a bit bloodier than I would’ve preferred, but in the [...]

The Long Haircut

An Odd Dynamic While sitting in county jail, fighting one’s case, life is constantly in unsettling turmoil and transition. Surprisingly nothing much happens. That may sound inexplicably contradictory, but it’s about the best way to capture it. For the vast majority of guys, it is a way station before heading to prison, which means there [...]

The Conundrum

Jake was wary as he eased his way hesitantly toward the door from which the voice was coming. There was only darkness from within the cell, which gave the disembodied voice the eerie effect of calling to him from an endless malevolent void. Jake knew from experience that it was ill advised, and potentially dangerous, [...]

Chicken Nugget

He was a skinny, thin-limbed, Mexican kid. If he weighted in at much more than a buck and a quarter, it would’ve shocked the shit out of me. It was his first time being locked up, and he didn’t know anything. Doug, on the other hand, was a different story altogether. He weighed in at [...]