Prison Survival Advice 1: Don't Drop The Soap

One of the most common questions I get asked in schools is whether I dropped the soap in the shower. Here's an extremely graphic video about prison rape I made with The Other Side Productions, including scenes from Shawshank Redemption and American History X.

For distributing Ecstasy, I served almost six years in some of Arizona’s toughest jails. Rape was so common that I had to attend a rape class. Unsure what the class entailed, I joined dozens of prisoners in a room, facing a beat-up TV and CO3 Dunn, a burly staff member in plain clothes and wearing a cowboy hat. Prisoners started yelling: 
“What’s this crap?”
“It’s a rape pageant!”
“How many times have you been raped in the past month?”
“You can’t rape the willing, dog! We’re gonna get all the details about getting raped. They’re gonna show us a video and give us free rape kits.”
“Stun guns.”
“Knockout drops.”
“Everyone shut the hell up!” CO3 Dunn banged his fist on a table. “This program is truly mandatory. They handed me the video and said, ‘Do it for everyone.’ P.R.E.A. stands for the Prison Rape Elimination Act. It covers inmates and staff, for whom there is zero tolerance for sexual assaults. Let’s get onto the video.”
The out-of-focus TV showed a round table of prisoners, a guard and a female warden. The first inmate – serving a sentence for a minor crime – described moving to an adult facility at seventeen. He was encouraged to drink alcohol brewed illegally in prison laced with psychotropic medication. He detailed getting gang-raped. His assailants tossed a coin to decide who owned him. The winner protected him in return for sex. The second inmate described how his neighbour hung himself after being raped. The next section was titled “What to watch for.” The video showed sweets left in a cell by rapists sat in a day room. A young inmate picked the sweets up, exited the cell, put them on a table and said, “I’m not interested.” The rapists looked defeated.
The classroom erupted with laughter.
“It’s the kind of people that laugh at this video that are most likely to commit sexual assaults!” CO3 Dunn yelled.
The video warned us not to take things from predators. Stamps. Coffee. Writing supplies. New prisoners should stay at the back of the chow line to avoid sitting in the wrong seat. They should stay away from gambling, drug debts, isolated areas, and have friends watch their backs.
CO3 Dunn paused the video. “If you don’t have the heart to help someone out, you’re an animal not a man, including staff. If it was your sister or brother, you’d help. I remember a youngster, scared as hell, fresh out of juvenile hall. The fellas were wrestling with him. I told him, ‘You need to stop those guys putting the body bump to you.’ He said, ‘They’re just playing.’ He was a bitch within two days. They turned him out. It doesn’t matter how big or bad you think you are, four or five guys can hold anybody down. No one is immune. Any sex is now classed as rape, willing or unwilling, with prisoners or staff. Prisoners will be prosecuted, and staff will be fired and prosecuted for rape.”
A prisoner raised his hand. “What if you get caught having sex with yourself? Is that rape?”
Ignoring the question, CO3 Dunn restarted the video, which showed a hungry new arrival accepting food from a predator. He had to repay the debt with oral sex.
The class laughed and howled.
The predator told the new arrival that he was preventing others from hurting him, but if the oral stopped, the protection would end. The new arrival continued the oral. The next scene showed a predatory guard ordering an inmate to clean an isolated area, and raping him.
The video returned to the roundtable, where an inmate urged rape to be reported and concern forms filled out. The female warden urged victims not to destroy the physical evidence. “Don’t shower, brush your teeth or use the bathroom.” A prisoner stated that rape can turn a five-year sentence into the death penalty by diseases such as AIDS.
“What are you gonna do if sexually assaulted?” CO3 Dunn asked.
“Shank the rapist!”
“Then you’re gonna go to lockdown. Predators need to be off the yard. Personally, I think they should be hung by their dicks until dead, but that’s not the way to go in here. Report it!”
Everyone mocked the ridiculousness of reporting anything.
“Report it to who?”
“Me,” CO3 Dunn said.
“And suffer the consequences. Getting shanked for being a snitch? It’s a no-win situation.”
“I understand there’s pressure on snitches, but reporting is the only way to get rapists prosecuted. This isn’t a trivial matter. Would you like it if a new prisoner came in today and got raped?”
“He’d better become a man overnight.”
“You guys need to back him up. Someone needs to talk to me. It’s the only way to create a safe environment for all of us. OK. Class dismissed.”
Sadly, after the class, a young mentally-ill inmate was gang-raped and put in lockdown for his own protection. No one reported anything.

If you don’t want to suffer the consequences of dropping the soap in prison, follow my advice in the PSA video. I emerged from prison with my anal virginity intact.

Shaun Attwood

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