Thankfully, many of us will never know what it’s like to live life behind bars, from the smells to the unending claustrophobia.
Although characters in our favourite TV shows and films serve time on screen, apparently their experiences don’t reflect the reality of prison, according to a chilling Reddit thread which asks real people who have been incarcerated.
The thread asks what pop culture doesn’t say about prison confinement, and thousands of people have replied explaining that, of course, these mediums don’t portray jail accurately at all. Not even close.
One ex-con wrote about the feeling of claustrophobia:
Another documented the unending discomfort in prison:
While others commented on the smell inside that can never be described through the sense of sight:
One Reddit user wrote about the myth of the prison library, enforced by films such as The Shawshank Redemption that portray prison libraries as a font of education and betterment.
It turns out they’re actually pretty limited:
But on the upside, you can put your craft skills to good use and build board games.
Just don’t play Monopoly with the guy with a short fuse:
One user explained how some people made chess pieces out of soap, while others detailed how elaborate games of inmate Dungeons and Dragons bought opposing gang members together, uniting against boredom.
Sadly, most of these goods are confiscated as contraband – either for rules against manufacturing or to prevent concealment of weapons.
Although one user wrote, ‘At Folsom Prison, and I think maybe San Quentin, they are sold in the gift shop.’
Some people responded with specific reference to TV shows and films that have earned a place in the hearts of millions:
And others pointed out their fellow inmates’ top TV choices – and the unifying power of nipples:
One user even gave us a grammar lesson, noting the difference between prison and jail:
Some wrote about how prison was a vacation for so many people:
But the sad truth remains that for certain imates, whatever the reality of incarceration, being behind bars is preferable to their reality in the outside world.
So don’t believe what you’ve seen in the films and heard in the songs.
I know I couldn’t possibly survive this.
A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.