I was never sentenced to prison but spent the better part of a year behind bars with the last two and a half months doing work-release (attending a P5 university). Luckily I only had to sit out for one semester.
#01 my case was B.S. The judge threw the book at me but the jail administrators were confused by the lengthy sentence for my crime. I was told by more than one person with a badge on I did not deserve my sentence and they did what they could for me on early release. I ended up getting out about 20 days sooner than I should have. My attorney at the time, who was highly recommended, was later reprimanded by the bar and had her license revoked for being an alcoholic and essentially taking people's money w/o doing thorough work. So there's that part that I only learned AFTER the fact.
#02 I was housed with Federal inmates (green bracelets opposed to orange bracelets) awaiting trial. Many of those guys were "the real deal", "rap stars" and you could see many of these guys were also above average in intellect that either went down the wrong path or succumbed to an environment they grew up in (in the case of the latin gangs).
How hard was it to do this time?
I thought intake jail pods were tougher because many times you'd get these low-level street thugs talking a big game and trying to prove themselves. It was common for jail staff to mention the jail was acting as an overflow for a mental hospital and making certain types worse. Whereas, doing time with the federal inmates awaiting trial was, well, offset in many ways. We had this 6'7 black guy named Bill who probably had an avenue to pro sports at one point. And a 40+ year old built Nigerian guerrilla in on drugs and weapons smuggling charges. If not enough, we had an active Inca of a Latin Kings chapter in the pod (w/ about 14 other Latin Kings) on top of a number of other mid-level players from the hood.
Other Key Players:
* Some guy named Sheldon facing 20 for large quantities of marijuana. Reminded me of Sampson from the half-baked movie.
* A guy named Corn, a Vice Lord, facing life on gang related charges including murder. He was short with long hair.
* Tex, a 6'5 more hefty black guy in his 40s. He was the pod casino/bookie guy and also chill. Could obviously handle himself.
By default, Bill, based on size and strength alone, controlled at least part of this pod and didn't enforce any sort racial politics like you see on TV. He was chill (for a guy that beat up two police officers during his arrest) and in addition to a monster on the basketball court he liked to read. Hard to picture a baller like this wearing glasses and reading but it's true. Tex was big enough on his own too to have status in the pod. The Inca of the Latin Kings also had heart and looked for the good in people. The Inca was quiet but observant and astute. He didn't have to lift a finger as he had plenty of soldiers in there to do things for him if necessary. If he said something or someone was okay, it was absorbed by the 14 others too like as if it were the word of God. Serious loyalty even behind bars. If the Pod went into a racial war, the Latin Kings would win by the numbers. So that was another offset and the Inca kept the peace. The Inca's value system was actually in a good place. The Nigerian only seemed to get mad when the C.O. took his brown breakfast (when he didn't get up to get it at his door in time). He could flip a switch and get scary but was mostly reserved until pushed there. The Nigerian also got mad when he beat the crap out of a child molester too. The Nigerian became like a hunter when the child molester first came in. He didn't need to learn about it or ask anyone. The Nigerian, despite never meeting the child molester beforehand, strangely already knew before everyone else could confirm what he was in for.
I will never forget the day the Nigerian was removed from the pod. I am sitting down playing monopoly with him and two others. He is wearing his glasses. Think of him as formally educated in english speaking African schools but also, obviously, corrupt. Little bit of a Pele haircut. All of a sudden we hear a helicopter landing on top of the jail building. I had never experienced this before. The jail is situated for this type of landing, however, it is a rarity for it to be utilized except in high profile cases. The C.O. then calls out to everyone in the pod to "lock down". At the monopoly table, the Nigerian reluctantly announced that "it's probably for me". So everyone is locking down and yet the Nigerian remains at the pod table picking up his monopoly cards. He is the only one left at the table. He takes off his glasses, folds them and puts them down. Puts his hand on his face, staring forward and exhales a sigh like he is under some stress.
Then the C.O. announces for him to go pack up his things because he was going to be leaving. What an exit! Everyone in the pod was shocked and laughing in disbelief afterward. Not laughing at him because everyone respected him but rather because no one realized how much of a big deal this Nigerian guy actually was. Like who was he really?
What was crazy about the Inca, and I found this out later, is that he was only 16. I was 21 and thought this guy looked 28 and built. He was half white too.
How hard is it to do time? Depends on who you do time with.