Sentence By Daniel Genis

If you’re curious how prison is, this is an honest representation from an articulate inmate on his 10 year sentence through the correctional system. In that time, books were his anchor, entertainment and guide. Highly recommend.




• One can purchase so much in a prison yard. Packs of Newports will buy something to eat, various drugs, weapons, porn, and art, with carved bars of soap and photorealistic portraits being the most common. One can also acquire services like barbering, chiropractics, blow jobs, having someone stabbed, or having a love letter written.

• There are men who spend years on Rikers island, going to court for a five-minute appearance once a month, for a lack of a $100 to pay their bail.

• In prison vernacular “seven thirty” is not just a notation of the current time but a way of saying someone is crazy. Describing a convict as “fourteen sixty” indicates that he’s twice as nut as the average incarcerated loon. “Seven thirty” is code for “mentally ill” because a form titled #7.30 is filled out when an officer notices psychiatric issues in a inmate.

• Every transport bus had a special license driver-guard, a white-shirt sergeant to supervise, and a cop armed with a glock in the inside cage, each of them making close to three figures every 60 minutes. The cops on board were given “hazard pay” while in transit.

• The overtime was achieved in part by hiding the buses, which would pull in the gas stations with enough room behind them for a DOC greyhound to park discreetly at a suitable distance from any other vehicle. It would then take an hour just for the driver to take a leak while 60 prisoner sat baking or freezing in the locked vehicle.

• There are two ways to bring a knife on a bus. A piece of dental floss, tied around your molar, will keep a small blade suspended down your trachea. Keeping it hanging there involves a constant fight with your gag reflex. The second option is a scalpel in the nostril.

• Mess halls operate according to a uniform statewide menu that repeats in two-months cycles. Chow is served at seven, eleven, and five, though the meaner prisoners push dinner even earlier in to senior citizen territory to be done with the day faster.

• “The hardest lesson was that the heart can always disappoint you, especially when it’s your own, but books are clear in their limitations. You find in them only what’s there.”

• Only art can defeat time.

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