Here are 10 things you never knew or expected about prisons all over the world:
1. Prison Libraries: One of the first shocking things that inmates may find in prison is a library. However, it only makes sense that inmates have something to fill their time and keep them occupied. Many prisons have extensive libraries that offer a wide variety of books to inmates, and it is no surprise that inmates end up being more avid readers than people in the general public. The reading culture is groomed in prison and inmates often get books donated to them or sent as gifts, aside from the collection by the prison system itself. So, if you stereotype all incarcerated individuals as dumb or illiterate, remember that some of them may visit their prison or law libraries to learn a lot of information.
2. Prison Degrees: As a means of helping inmates leave criminal life behind or move on after their corrections or sentence, a lot of prisons in first-world and second-world countries often make provisions for their inmates to study online or at school within the prison. In the case that such an inmate does exceedingly well, there is the possibility of getting employed within the prison as well or working under community service to reduce their imprisonment tenure. Incarcerated individuals are not eligible for federal student loans and are not racking up student loan debt to get degrees.
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3. Recording Studios: For inmates who have a love for and history with music, one amazing jail or prison fact is that they don’t have to put their careers on hold. Rappers like 2pac, Mac Dre, and recently Young Thug, have released albums while behind bars. With the right permission and environment, music can be created, and concerts can be had within correctional facilities. The artist who is most famous for his prison albums is Johnny Cash, who was a country music artist. Johnny Cash is said to have released his most iconic albums while behind bars and even hosted a concert with thousands of inmates as his audience. That’s quite a surprising or shocking feat.
4. Prison Enterprises: With all the free time, it is not a surprise that jail time is when inspiration can hit hardest. Some prisoners often start multimillionaire enterprises within the walls of their facilities. Ranging from drugs to art sculptures or paintings and even recipes. The solace can allow artists to focus on their craft and hone it into a source of income. Several organizations exist to support prisoner rights while they run businesses as well as to empower and encourage them to run their several businesses. Although some people have made poor choices that ended them up in jail or prison, they have turned things around and made different or better choices as incarcerated businesspeople.
5. Prison Farms: In many prisons around the world, inmates are involved in farming and agricultural activities either legally or illegally. They cultivate crops, clear lands, and are involved in quarrying in exchange for payment in kind, such as food or allowances for certain things. This exercise can also be done as community service with the aim of providing food for the prison population and contributing to local communities. Participants get reduced tenure, which is graded by their service. So, the next time you eat farm fresh veggies and fruit, keep in mind that it’s possible that they may have been cultivated by incarcerated individuals.
6. Prison Religions: Of all the surprising facts about prisons or jails, this is a staple fact. Although criminals are locked up, they are respected as humans and a part of society, and their rights are protected. One such right is the freedom of expression and the right to have beliefs and religion. It is therefore expected that inmates would require a place to gather if they are of similar faiths. In several prisons, the system makes provision for churches, mosques, or prayer grounds, and occasionally religious events and outreaches often extend to the prison. One recent example is the Kingdom Book One Album, which was recorded in prison with inmates by Kirk Franklin and Maverick City Music.
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7. Filming In Prison: While it is more common that films are shot using a prison setting, inmates can produce a movie on their own. With the right types of equipment and licensing, inmates can produce and distribute movies. An example of this is Beverly Van-de-Velde who was recruited by a sub-contracted company to educate inmates about the media. She reportedly ended up producing a porn movie with full credit to the inmates who participated with her, and the movie was released.
8. Prisons Pets: While dogs or “fur babies” are not strangers to prisons all over the world, they are mostly owned by guards, but for the sake of emotional support and as an exercise of human rights, inmates are sometimes allowed to own pets if they wish, depending on the facility.
9. Prison Clubs: While it may be no surprise that gang members exist in prison, it may come as a surprise to know that there are prison clubs. Most clubs have branches in prison ranging from music, poetry, games, religion, and several other professional associations. Surprisingly, inmates can be elected as parish pastors, club leaders, and participants in the event as such.
10. Getting Married: In case your fiancé gets imprisoned, have no fear. Marital rights are protected within the prison walls, and there are provisions to mate with your partner if you are legally married, except in federal U.S. prisons. Otherwise, it is possible for women to get pregnant and raise your kid(s) for the first two years within the prison world before your partner takes over. Starting a family while in prison is no longer a dream but a happening reality.
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With the provisions of free food, access to family and visitation, ability to make a living, and proper living conditions, it is no shock that a lot of inmates can lead “comfortable” lives in prison and may not wish to leave, while some count the days until they are free. The “fun” fact is that a couple of individuals have been able to break free from prisons in the past, and some measures are dramatic such as helicopter escapes. Although the conditions vary across countries, states, and prisons, a jail or prison sentence or verdict does not have to mean that an incarcerated individual has to give up on having some sense of meaningful purpose and fulfillment in life while allowing their time to serve them.