1. Scavenger
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    Scavenger Senior Member

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    Prisons

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Scavenger, Oct 5, 2007.

    So I'm not sure if this is the right place, feel free to move it.

    This is a bit of an odd question, but I'd like to get some opinions here before I start visiting prisons and the like. In my book, the main character is imprisoned for about 15 years - on death row. he's going through a series of appeals, and I know death row does take a long time, etc.

    Problem is, I've never been on death row. Neither have I been in prison. This may not be appropriate, but if anyone has personal experience with the emotions and thought process of a prisoner, especially one with a long sentence or the death penalty, I'd love to hear them. Also, if anyone knows of any good books/memiors/biographies about prisoners, that would be amazing. I've read The Shawshank Redemption but I don't think that counts as much as it could...

    Thanks!

    -Scavenger
     
  2. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    You don't want to write about prison, trust me.

    It's taboo. Everyone looks away from it. Racial riot; everyday you worry about someone close to you shanking you in the back, who's a snitch, who you're going to kill because the color of their skin, who you're going to **** up the ass to illustrate the pecking order of the heiroarchy. Prison guards probing your rectum to look for contrabands. The mentally unstable smearing fecal matter across the walls, and flinging at the correction officer, sometimes even eating it themselves. etc.

    If you want to write like Stephen King, you can gloss over all these facts, and make prison a good place to be.

    Or if you want realism, I suggest two books: one is called Doing Time, the other The Funhouse Mirror. Look it up on Amazon. You will know everything--I mean everything, there is to know about prison. :)

    You should also watch some episodes on National Geographic and Court TV about prison gangs and warfare.
     
  3. Scavenger
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    Scavenger Senior Member

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    Thanks very much for the book recs.

    I don't think I made myself terribly clear. Mostly what I need are the mental effects of prison on a former inmate. Don't get me wrong, I do need information about living in prison proper (and trust me, the way this book is going, prison's going to be the nicest thing in it), but the focal point is going to be after the character leaves jail.

    Thanks again!
     
  4. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    The mental effects of prison on a parolee is very, very, very bad.

    90% of those paroled eventually wind up in prison, again, for the same crime.

    The many prisoners consider the state penitentary to actually be home, and many of them start convulsing and shuddering before their release date. They are afraid to leave; they get nightmares. Just read those books yourself, and understand. ;)
     
  5. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    Wait a minute--now hold on just a minute, girl.

    If your main character is serving fifteen years, on death row, how can he be released?
     
  6. Scavenger
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    Scavenger Senior Member

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    *grin* It's a secret...you'll have to buy the book. :p
     
  7. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    Read Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King. It focuses a lot on the emotional aspects of prison.
    Also for a more Hollywood idea of prison watch the HBO series 'Oz'. A lot of it's over the top, but other aspects are realistic enough for most people. It also has several characters on Death Row.
     
  8. Scavenger
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    Scavenger Senior Member

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    I have read Shawshank Redemption. Honestly, I felt he could have done a lot more with it, especially given his pechant for gruesomeness (that said, I do like it).

    I've always wondered what Oz was about. I'll turn it on sometime.

    Thanks, Dom.
     
  9. Funny Bunny
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    Funny Bunny Contributing Member

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    I take it your goal is not really to write an extensive and exhaustive prison research document. For a fiction book , you can actually do a bit of "imagineering." I'll bet if you watched "OZ" and "Lock-Up" for a few months, you'd learn enough to make your death row background. It all depends on how in depth you want to go. A lot of writers who write books about very specific settings do a lot of research, (years in some cases). Others just paint with impressionistic strokes, stopping ever so often to focus on some thing or event
     

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