Most people don’t spend much time hanging around prisons. Therefore, their beliefs about them are mostly based on assumptions from stories they’ve heard or seen in the movies — which, of course, aren’t always accurate. Prison guards have incredibly difficult and interesting jobs. Considering the nature and environment of their work, things are bound to get out of control from time to time. They are exposed to incredibly intense situations, as well as angry and sometimes violent people. Certainly this is not always the case, but exposure to some potentially dangerous and concerning scenarios is to be expected on the job.
And while not every day or aspect of the job is fraught with such polarizing parameters, most prison guards have probably seen their fair share of shocking moments. Just take it from these prison guards who recently took to the internet to share stories about the most extreme things they have ever seen on the job.
35. Chopping It Up
My dad was a prison guard in Tennessee. Every Thursday was pork chop day in max. When you have nothing you live for the little things.
One day they ran out of pork chops and a dumbbutt guard tells the back of the line: “They’re all out of pork chops — the rest of you are getting bologna!”
Minor riot with a 6-hour lockdown, 2 broken bones, and like 10 people had to be treated by the nurse.
A guy trying to smuggle in a carton of tobacco under a fat roll. That is not a typo. A carton, not a pack.
33. Piece By Piece
My husband is a guard. I’m not going to be able to tell this as well as he could but you’ll get the point. He was doing count one night and there was an inmate that was bleeding so they went in to see what was happening. The inmate was eating himself as if it was a meal. They rushed him to medical and he ended up having to be in the psych building (clearly) after he recovered.
32. Cutting The Line
An inmate with mental issues and HIV sliced his stomach open. The line was from below sternum to just below belly button. Survived, but man it was ugly.
31. Pass The Cantaloupe
My dad was in prison and the craziest day he experienced was sometime around the end of his first week in. He had been keeping his head down, but one of the other inmates told him to meet him outside by the corner of one of the buildings during their free time outside. He was hesitant because he didn’t want to get into trouble right out of the gate. He looked toward the corner of the building and saw a small group of guys huddled and he got even more concerned. Just as he was going to walk away they noticed him and called him over. He accepted. These guys were passing around cantaloupe and sharing it. Each guy had a spoon and they’d take a bite and pass it on.
30. Hole Lot Of Trauma
Currently a CO. I work in one of the “reformed” mental health facilities for my state. Basically, we’re a prison with a strong focus on mental health rehabilitation. We deal with some of the state’s finest (worst) cases. I’ve seen a man with a literal hole in his body from his chest to below his belly button. He put it there. I’ve got stories like these for days.
29. Chin Up, Deer
I responded to a fight in the shower where an inmate pushed the other inmate over the bench in the middle of the showers, jumped on him, and bit off his chin. I picked his chin up and packed it in ice. I was also a trip officer that day so I ended up escorting him to the hospital. On the way to the hospital, the ambulance hit a deer. I also hit the deer at 78mph.
When we got to the hospital, the doctor didn’t sanitize the piece of chin or anything, just sewed it back on. It didn’t take and a few weeks later the guy got an infection almost passed away from it. That was a heck of a day.
Working in the ER we had a prisoner come in unconscious, and covered in blood. We got him cleaned up and counted at least 12 wounds to his head and face. They were shallow but the force caused the wounds to look like gashes. He had even more wounds on his arms from trying to cover his head during the attack. We couldn’t save one of his ears and he was still unconscious when I clocked out.
The prisoner was transferred to a trauma center the following morning. He had multiple fractures and spinal damage. Apparently, he was a snitch and got attacked by other prisoners.
27. Beaten Over Book
The first day my dad was there a riot occurred because some prisoner thought it would be funny if he stole a book from a prisoner and blamed it on someone else. Long story short the guy who was blamed ended up being hurt pretty badly by the others; apparently, they already had beef between them.
26. Piece Of Cake
This is taking the word “extreme” to a different level, but when I was a prison guard (female working in a men’s max) I worked in the kitchen. I tried to be firm, fair and consistent, and it worked; I mean, I went home whole every night. Somehow a few of the prisoners found out it was my birthday and towards the middle of my shift they had me come around the office and there on the table was a 4 layer industrial-size cake with pink frosting. I was touched. They told me to get my piece before everyone else did, and not even 10 minutes later the whole cake was gone.
25. Rip Your Heart Out
There was this one man I was looking over in prison. He was on watch. He went to the bathroom for five minutes, came back and he had pulled all the stitches from his chest, opened the chest wound, and was trying to poke himself in the heart.
24. Slow Insanity
One of my former teachers used to provide mental health services in the county jail.
She said the worst thing she saw was an inmate who went insane. He was quiet and polite and doing a small amount of time for a minor crime. But then he got in one small fight and something in him snapped. He decompensated so quickly that by day four, he was smearing dirt on the wall and singing nursery rhymes. He was taken away by ambulance and was never seen again.
23. Writings On The Wall
Some guy injured his head and wouldn’t cuff up to have the nurses help. He was being absolutely combative and going crazy. He told my brother (who is a CO) he was going to die and to tell his family he loved him, before passing out and apparently actually almost died. My brother said it messed him up for a good while.
22. Family Discourse
A family member and I used to work at the same prison and the prisoners knew we were related.
My family member got into a minor car accident and had a few weeks off work to recover.
Word got out about it to all the prisoners and I constantly got asked how I was coping because they all heard it was super serious (it wasn’t).
While one was asking me what happened we had a lockdown code, so everyone had to go back to their blocks.
Came to find out in the incident report that a fight had started because 2 prisoners heard 2 different stories on what happened to my family member, couldn’t agree, started a punch-up and got the whole block of about 80 guys brawling.
The whole place got locked down for like 10 hours.
All because my family member can’t drive.
21. Nosey Inmate
Not a guard but a prison nurse. Had to respond to a cell fight where one man bit off another man’s nose.
20. An Apple A Day…
I used to work in a minimum security prison. One inmate decided that the medical staff weren’t treating him properly or quickly enough, so his solution was to shove an apple up his butt. Surprisingly, this didn’t work out the way he thought.
19. Frightening Flush
Not me, my past coworker’s husband.
He has PTSD from this and other events, and as a warning let’s just say it’s pretty gross.
He worked at a local woman’s prison. One time he was called to a cell because he was told that there was a woman who “miscarried.” She fully gave birth to a live child, and then attempted to get rid of it. And he walked into seeing all of that.
18. Hollow Screams
I was just an inmate but when I was locked up in the Bronx I remember people making weapons out of the toothbrushes we were given. One guy screamed bloody murder to prove that the COs didn’t care about what went on in the holding cells. No one checked on us. Also, the COs would purposely throw rival gang members into the same cell. I’ll never forget some of their screams as they got hauled off into enemy territory.
17. Eyeballing It
I work at a women’s prison and although I have seen some things it will never compare to an incident described to me by a former CO. A woman who was severely mentally ill decided to remove both her eyeballs. I didn’t even see it and I still get the heebie-jeebies.
16. Brass Knuckles
Former state/federal female Corrections Officer here. I saw a key fight among two male inmates in the common area of the housing unit. At the time I worked for the state, and at this particular medium-security prison, the inmates are given an individual key to their cells (all of the cells are still behind a big steel door that only the corrections officers had keys to, so they were still confined within the housing unit). Anyway, something happened between the two inmates, and they did this thing where they placed the key in-between their knuckles, so when they punched each other, the key acted as a brass knuckle. There was a lot of bloodshed in that common area. It was a whole mess and I had a lot of paperwork to complete because of it.
15. Flirting With Number Two
In my prison, there is an area next to the nurse’s station where inmates suspected of having a meltdown are kept, like a special observation area where the med staff is close by. One Valentine’s day I was on that post and the nurse on duty was a pretty decent looking woman in her late 20’s or early 30’s. We’ll call her Jennifer.
While I was doing the rounds she comes running out of the special observation area. I tried to ask her what was wrong but she just runs past me into the bathroom. It turns out an inmate had taken his number two and written “Jennifer, be my Valentine” with a big heart around it on the window of his cell.
14. Beyond Recognition
My best friend works in a clinic for forensic psychiatry here in Germany, comparable to prison for the criminally insane. A patient had attacked another guard out of the blue. The alarm went off; said friend and other guards rushed in, removed the patient, and got him into an isolation cell. Now here’s the horrifying part: when they got back to help their injured colleague, they didn’t recognize who it was at first and actually thought it was another patient because the attacker completely destroyed the guy’s face.
13. Toeing Insanity
My first job out of college was at a maximum-security juvenile facility. We had a male in a lockdown isolation cell. They were checked on every 10 minutes or less. In between checks, He pulled his big toenail completely off then carved the names of his family members in his skin with it. Almost 20 years ago and it still haunts me.
12. Saucey Dog
I used to visit jail once a week with my golden retriever, Cooper, who’s a therapy dog. Any normal day I was asked to smuggle something in my next visit as I was never searched or walked through a medical detector upon entry. Don’t worry, I never did.
Anyways, my last visit there was around lunchtime. I entered a cell with 5-6 inmates who were South Side Los Angeles members. Inmates always made the craziest concoctions of sauces (each gang had their own recipe of sauces) and my dog bolted for a glob of their sauce that was on the ground. After he ate it the whole cell erupted, saying “Cooper is South Side! Cooper is South Side!” That chant spread to the rest of the cells on that row and then to the rest of the 7 levels of cell rows (~150 inmates). The jail went into riot prevention and a lockdown ensued. Cooper was then listed as a gang-affiliated citizen and we were no longer allowed to visit.
11. Scoring Snacks
A professor of mine worked in the commissary while he was going through university and loved to tell us about how in the movies it’s all about illegal substances, but he made his money smuggling in off-brand ramen noodles, chips, and pop.
I’m sure other people were handling the illegal stuff, but for the life of him he couldn’t figure out why if people were willing to pay ridiculous markups on items that won’t get you sent to jail.
10. Funeral Flowers
My uncle was a corrections officer when he died (unrelated to his job). A lot of inmates pitched in and got a flower arrangement for his funeral. It was an incredibly nice gesture and showed how much he was loved.
9. Slumber Party
This is an old story here in Sweden.
One day at a corrections facility called Norrtäljeanstalten the two guards on duty forgot to lock the doors to the cells, kitchen, and everything. So the prisoners broke out. The thing was that they didn’t escape but instead built a blanket fort, baked a chocolate cake, ate the chocolate cake, and watched TV all night till the guards came back to the unit the next morning. The prisoners had full access to knives, forks, spoons and anything you can find in a kitchen and they decided to just watch TV in a blanket fort and eat cake.
The two guards got five days without pay and a warning since nothing major happened.
8. Disturbing Displays
I did a job shadow in a prison in Portland, Oregon. I was considering going down that road as a senior in high school. On floor six or seven of the Multnomah County prison, they keep the most mentally disturbed individuals. As I walked in I heard a man screaming from his cell that Sears, the department store, was a robot that was going to wipe out the US. I decided that night that being a prison guard wasn’t for me.
7. Bloody Mess
Walked out and locked my cage, turned around to a guy right behind me covered in blood. Called for an officer assist, the guy said he fell. Went to the spot he “fell” to no blood, no nothing. Day room with 50 other inmates, no one saw a thing. Three officers came up, two escorted him, another one stayed with me. Found out later he snitched on someone so they’d hurt him really bad. Two weeks later I joined the military instead of staying there.
6. Yeast Infection
4th day on the job. I was working a Constant Watch on an inmate. They are dressed in a paper gown and given food they can eat with their fingers (bread, butter, chips, ect.). I was on for 12 hours with the same inmate and he was literally insane. I got to watch him in a cell for 12 hours do unspeakable things with a piece of bread. I have never seen anything like it and I’m in my 7+ year in law enforcement. It was god-awful.
5. Cutting It Close
Just last week a con hurt himself in front of me while on watch because he wanted to move to a different prison (the SHU) closer to his family for Christmas. He just ended up going to a special mental health prison.
4. Letting Sparks Fly
Craziest thing I’ve seen while I was locked up was two inmates hitting the outlets in the common room. This would make sparks fly out the outlet. They would then let the sparks catch fire on to a piece of paper.
3. Rat’s Nest
A friend of mine does booking. The whole spread your behind and cough thing. The craziest thing she said that came out was a dead mouse. Obviously, this was from a crazy person.
2. Charlie’s Angels
Worked in a youth correctional facility. The units were Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, etc. In the Charlie dorm, there were three openly homosexual youth who were WAY over the top when it came to stereotypical behavior (talked in lisps, used red kool aid powder to make lipstick, tied their sweater arms together to make a purse, etc.),
Well, one day they are walking down the hall together, see me in my office and said “Hey, check this out!” Then the three of them dropped and did the Charlies Angels pose. I laughed so much.
1. Letting It Out
I was involved in a multiple convicted murderer receiving a call that his father had died. He was stoic as he talked to his mother. After leaving the Sargent’s office I escorted him back to his cell. He stopped in the hallway and asked, “Boss, is it ok to cry?” I said of course it was. We paused for about five minutes and he let it out. Went back into his cell after.
After everything, I saw it still reminds me that prisoners are human.