Our Father in heaven…
– What comes to your mind, when you hear about prison?
- Dead-ends, aggressivity, the other side.
– The other side?
- It coexists with the civil life, but it’s completely different. The things outside, that define your life, they don’t exist on the inside. You better forget about them.
…hallowed by you name,…
– Have you experienced some kind of belief, hope?
- I was hoping every day, that all of this will pass at some point and everything will be settled. I experienced belief in a way, that there were others, who believed in their truth or innocence, even after being sentenced to 10-15 years.
– Did you ever come across someone deeply religious?
- There was this guy, who found God inside. It was believable, that he believes in God, because of the empathy and humble he spoke about Him. Plus, after a certain amount of time in jail you evolve a sense to see right through the ‘pretenders’. He didn’t seem like one. Actually, once a band came to play in prison. I don’t remember their name, but the singer told us about how he became religious, in his eyes you could see the glory of true belief. He talked about his near-death experience and his recovering from a deadly disease. After these he became religious. As far as I could tell, I think he really believed in, what he preached.
– Is there a prayer room or a chapel?
- We have a prison chaplain, who organized occasions, at least that’s how we would call it, but obviously it was church service. There is also a rabbi in the country for the Jewish prisoners. Everyone is free to practice its religion.
… your kingdom come,…
– Is this hell on earth?
- Kind of. Many say, that you’ll never forget the sound of the bars closing behind you. There’s a weight to it, as if stepping over to another dimension.
– What are your most intense experiences inside?
- There are plenty of those. The most intense ones are all related to tension. One time there was a memorable case for example, when the guys sat down to play cards. They started filling 200 cigarettes as money. At the end the winner almost took all the cigarettes, but then the others blamed him for cheating and knocked him silly.
– Did they beat him to death?
- No, the guards managed to get him out of the cell, then he was attended by the doctors. There was this other guy. The voices in his head told him to cut himself.
– To cut himself?
- Yes, he did so on his calf. The skin is so tight there, that it split up, you could see the yellowish fat under the skin and the whole muscle was hanging out.
– This seems to be a psychiatric case.
- In prison they are not prepared for this. But we’ll never know, if the voices in his head told him to do so, or this was just some kind of cover story. It didn’t get cleared, but I didn’t care much about it. The other guy swallowed so many safety pins, that they had to bring out his colon through the abdominal wall. But as he wasn’t familiar with hygiene, he was constantly leaking and dripping everywhere.
– But how did he manage to swallow them?
- There’s a safety pin – you know – used for sewing, to join two materials. You maintain your clothes with this. Well, he rolled this up with the yarn, squeezed it all together and swallowed it. But only hanging on by the yarn, it burst in his stomach, in his bowel – where it reached – and it carved into the flesh.
…your will be done,…
– Was he planning to commit suicide?
- Or he just wanted to be transferred to another prison or prison hospital. After all, it’s much looser there. There are a whole lot of other stories, that I barely remember anymore.
– You don’t remember or you rather don’t want to?
- These happened on a daily basis, but there are many I just forgot about. But I never force myself to forget about something, if that’s what you wanted to hear…actually, it’s even better to remember, this way you know, that there’s also such a projection of life. If you do something stupid, you know, where you can end up, you know. There was this one prisoner (meanwhile he’s laughing), they wanted to transfer him to another prison, and he knocked his head so hard to the bars, that it split up. They took him away as a Turk in a turban. Another time the guard took away a forbidden item. He placed it on a table at the line-up. While he was searching the others on the end of the row, the first prisoner at the front took it. They robbed the guard real good. Fuck, he searched everywhere for it, while the others were laughing in the cell.
…on earth as in heaven.
– How should you communicate?
- Well, if you’re using too much foreign words and playing yourself, trying to look fucking smart, you’ll get beaten for that too. It’s not an easy story, that’s for sure. If you lie, you won't necessarily become a liar, but if you get beaten and tell on the guard, then you are one. In that moment your safe, but from that moment the whole prison will know you're a traitor. But there was also one time, they completely locked down the prison for someone to be carried out of his cell.
- He was either dangerous or had to be protected.
Give us today our daily bread,…
– Can the prisoners keep personal stuff inside?
- Well, Of course you can have some personal belongings: cigarettes, 2 to 3 books, razor, cola and food.
– You can send those in?
- As of now, they have a shop inside, where you can buy things with your own money, but the prices are triple or four times higher as on the market.
– That’s some serious business…
- Well, it is for the one who won it, because it goes straight to his pockets. But it’s the same with the phone. You can only call those couple of numbers you’ve given beforehand, but you call only call as many times as you can pay for it. The price per minute is ten times higher, than in the outside world.
…forgive us our sins,…
– Do the others know what crime you committed?
- Of course! You have your own official paper, which shows what crime you’ve committed. You go in, get into your cell, everyone surrounds you and open your bag, to check what they can take away from you. There’s your little paper inside, that you wanted to hide, so that they don’t see it, but that’s the first thing they check. If you’ve molested a child, there’s no way even God can help you in there. Of course the system tries to protect these people, because it doesn’t look good for the prison either, if they get beaten to death, even if your gut tells you, that son of a bitch deserves it.
…as we forgive those who sin against us,…
– There’s no friendship evolving inside, I assume then…
- No. Those, who are inside, are only linked because of their surroundings. If someone gets friends in there, they should visit a doctor, that’s all I’m saying…
– Then the The Shawshank Redemption is only a romanticized idea?
- I saw it, yep, it made it look pretty. That story uses prison only as a background. It’s a great friendship story, but it could be about lathers as well.
– Did you see "The Experiment" where everyday people play the role of a prisoner and guard and they’re left alone in a research lab built as a prison?
- Yep. Your life can go sideways very easily. Based on this, anyone could get in. There’s this saying: everyone has its own brick. It’s only by a hair, that something keeps you away from ending up in jail. For example, while driving a car, you could accidentally hit someone anytime.
…and save us from the time of trial,…
– Are the ‘Drop the soap’ rumors true?
- You don’t even need soap. But it’s usually not in the shower, because there are guards. Most of the time it happens after lockdown in the cell.
– How can someone get away from that?
- If you stand up for yourself, you might get beaten, but at least you won’t get f*cked. There are times, when someone knows he’s next and joins those, who practice assault, although it’s not his personality. If someone is a victim type and the others see, he’s afraid, they pick at him right away. And if you’re going in as a pedophile, then that is it for you.
– Does age matter? Or can it happen to someone older as well?
- It doesn’t matter. But if you get to the young ones, you’ve got to protect yourself, if you can! Where there’s too much testosterone, there’s always trouble! I once heard one guard saying to the other: "I fucked you so hard, you shit on my stomach." Inhumans.
…and deliver us from evil.
– Did someone die?
- I just heard, that someone didn’t wake up in the morning and another hung himself. You know, you have these mood changes from one day to another and then you make a decision like that. But in most cases, it’s about getting attention or getting transferred to another prison.
– Then, how can you survive in there?
- It’s not an easy question.
– What or who can keep you alive?
- Well, fuck, it’s a good question. It’s yourself, you know...you can never take it too seriously, you have to accommodate...you have to respect the rules and if you’re in there, whether as a guard or a prisoner, you have to keep your distance.
For the kingdom,…
– Does origin or religion matter?
- I don’t think so.
– But I suppose there are ‘royal prisoners’, who are an exception due to their ranks?
- In most cases this is defined by power, outstanding intelligence or relationships. Someone, who is known in the underworld, because he has hitmen, protects discos or owns them himself, sells drugs or is in the prostitute business etc… he immediately starts as someone in prison. He’s either so strong, the others don’t dare to attack, because they know he will punch back so hard, they will have to pick up the pieces of the guy from the ground, you know…
– So, it’s worth to be in shape?
- Well yep, sure. If you know, you’ve still got 6 months, it’s better to go in exercised.
– And what about intelligence?
- There are some, who are so smart, they can easily fool anyone, even guards, inside. You can get forward with that. There are one or two big talkers, for fuck’s sake, they make you believe, the sky is green. Fuck, there are some big talkers in there, who send you to hell in a way, that you can’t wait to get the fuck away. I don’t even know, how to describe this.
- Yep, that’s it.
– Is there something as a luxury prison?
- Theoretically yes. Pregnant women are there, as far as I know, who can give birth to their child and bring the baby up for the first year. The VIP prisoners are taken there as well, politicians, policemen and guards.
– What happens, if a guard gets in?
- There was one. He was only moved, if the whole prison was on a lockdown. The others wouldn’t even turn to him with the question ‘Hi. How’s it going?’, they would peel his skin off right away.
…and the glory is yours…
– And if it’s a star?
- There are stories, that they had to newly paint the cell for them, I don’t know, but I could imagine, it’s true. No matter, that the system is said to be unified, there are places, where you can get away with much more, meanwhile in other prisons the chances are less.
– Is it true, that you can bring contraband into a prison?
The chances are getting less, but there’s always some kind of crack in the shield.
– For example?
- For example, the guard or visitors. Family members do their best to ease your struggles. There was one time, where they cut a pepper in half, put the stuff in there and glued the calyx back on. It’s a constant catfight, but every solution turns out in the end and the gates close.
…now and for ever.
– Is there something you could never process from the experiences inside?
- I don’t think so. You gave to somehow learn to defend yourself, if you don’t succeed, you will get swallowed up. If you don’t take these things upon yourself, then you don’t have to process anything to begin with.
– What would be your advice for someone, who goes to prison for the first time?
- Whatever it takes, stand up for yourself and don’t be a traitor, nor a snitcher.
– Whoa, it’s a tough topic. Shocking.
- I’m not going back there.