I was released in August and didn't let the isolation destroy me. I started a real estate investment company, do motivational writings and speak to at risk teens. I will be self-publishing two books and am trying hard to make up for my past. My blog is http://ryanpettigrew7.blog.com/ or follow me on Twitter.

Comments: 315 • Responses: 88  • Date: 

RyanPettigrew53 karma

I'm also in the process of suing the prison system for putting me in an environment (solitary confinement) that is known to exacerbate the symptoms of mental illnesses after they diagnosed me with Bipolar Disorder. And that's in addition to them beating me and placing me in a cold cell with vomit on the floor, in my boxers with shackles on. The shackles tore into my bare ankles and I had to exercise for 24 hours straight just to keep warm. When I took a bowel movement, they refused to give me toilet paper or soap then made me eat meals like that.

mannequine12 karma

I'm sorry about that. It sounds bad and definitely like an unusual and cruel punishment.

RyanPettigrew13 karma

The funny part of it is that the physical torture they put me through was justified by the Colorado Federal District Court as not being long enough in duration. Well, the physical torture lasted 24 hours and I'm pretty sure that ANY torture in America violates the Eighth Amendment.

They also ruled that since I was in there so long and didn't file my lawsuit within the first two years, that any constitutional violation they inflict is now okay. Wow

RyanPettigrew21 karma

When I got out, I couldn't sleep for a whole week because I was used to sleeping on a hard pad in a lighted room and having mentally ill prisoners yelling all night. I panicked around people and my stomach was having a hard time digesting the food.

freerangebeer13 karma

What did you do?

RyanPettigrew36 karma

This was my third time in prison for crimes related to drug dealing. During this stint, I got heavily involved in prison gangs and beat a rapist pretty badly.

daketrugs6 karma

what drugs did you deal?

RyanPettigrew15 karma

Meth, cocaine and weed mostly but in large amounts.

gangy862 karma

What would you consider a large amount?

RyanPettigrew4 karma

I used to sell pounds of meth and weed.

DangerDoc2 karma

drug dealing

No good.

beat a rapist pretty badly

That's good.

RyanPettigrew10 karma

I'm still not philosophically opposed to drugs because I believe it's an individual's choice, not the government's.

I wish I had the chance to beat more sex offenders but they protect them in prison.

Cocorower12 karma


RyanPettigrew41 karma

People can benefit from any situation depending how they choose to deal with it but solitary confinement makes that almost impossible.

Theopaulson2 karma

I know some inmates are put in solitary confinement for their own protection. How do you think that differs from your ordeal? And what could be done to change solitary confinement to still maintain safety yet focus on rehabilitation and personal development? (In a perfect world- pipe dream). Thanks

RyanPettigrew8 karma

Good question. They should have entire prisons for people they need to protect (i.e. ex-cops, snitches, sex offenders, etc) rather than keeping them in solitary confinement. At CSP, it was all the same treatment in solitary confinement for protective custody, mentally ill, gang members and death row. And they were all mixed.

Most of the people in solitary confinement are protective custody, mentally ill or serial minor prison rule breakers. There's no reason they should be in solitary confinement. There's a large portion of mentally ill that are in there who should be in a mental institution because they shouldn't be punished when they aren't in control of themselves. And the guards aren't trained to deal with them so they pick on them for making their jobs more difficult. Even mental health staff in prisons develop the view of the guards, seeing us as sub-human. I saw mental health staff on multiple occasions laughing at mentally ill inmates smearing feces on their faces or cutting themselves. It's sad and I always spoke up, which brought more trouble to me.

Theopaulson3 karma

That is such a sad reply dude. Wow. Thanks for the honesty and solid answering of questions.

RyanPettigrew2 karma

No problem. Feel free to ask anything.

teslawasright11 karma

Is the system fundamentally broken in your opinion, or do you think it could be fixed to provide for a structure of rehabilitation?

RyanPettigrew24 karma

It can be fixed and I have a solution that will work but it won't get fixed. It's too profitable for the state and lowering recidivism threatens job security. Politicians use scare tactics to keep the prison machine well funded and the only way it'll get fixed is with rational minds.

CrawfordShepard11 karma

Can you elaborate on your solution?

RyanPettigrew68 karma

For anyone with over 10 years left on their sentence, put them in higher security prisons and let them do industry jobs or prison jobs. Overall, just let them do their time.

For those with five to ten years left, put them in lower custody prisons where they have to get an education, take classes that teach them how to be productive citizens, receive vocational training, drug treatment, time with a psychologist and anything else that prepares them for the real world.

Anyone with less than five years remaining goes to a half way house where they can get a job, pay their own way and save money. Once they have enough saved up to cover so many months in bills and get their own place, they go to an ankle monitor.

There's no excuse to release people from high security prisons, ignorant, angry and with $100 to a homeless shelter. This will lower prison costs and drastically decrease recidivism

GSpotAssassin7 karma

Figure out a way to start a pilot program. In order to sell it, insist that data will be collected on recidivism rates and other factors in order to prove its effectiveness. Man, there has to be a way to make this happen.

RyanPettigrew6 karma

I believe that the only way to make it happen is to educate the public so they can put pressure on the politicians. I like the idea about recidivism data collecting because those numbers will drop significantly. Research can also provide the figures for how much money it will save. Just find out what percentage of a given system has under five years remaining and the cost per inmate.

RamjetSoundwave2 karma

Could you elaborate more on "it's too profitable for the state?"

RyanPettigrew3 karma

When prisons become overcrowded, they ask for more tax payer money. They get it when crime rates increase or atrocious crimes are committed because of the resulting fear mongering. So they build more prisons and the state prison system grows. Then they have more slave laborers making products that they sell to the public.

dubya19829 karma

Is the portrayal of rape in prison by Hollywood accurate and as prevalent as they make it seem?

RyanPettigrew22 karma

I did 12 years in prison altogether and prison rape is very rare. There's a lot of homosexuality but very little forcible rape.

alli-katt7 karma

Why would you say there is so much homosexuality?

RyanPettigrew36 karma

Because sex is one of our basic needs. When it's repressed, it tends to come out unhealthy. Not saying homosexuality is unhealthy, but most aren't homosexual when they come to prison then start and the stop once released. That's unhealthy. It means they are doing something they normally wouldn't just because they're repressing it. Look at all the catholic priests, same concept

alli-katt8 karma

That makes sense. Do they actively recognize it as homosexual or just a release? Also, are they interested in homosexual relationships?

The reason I'm interested is a family member of mine was raped by another man in a correctional facility, so I wondered.

Thanks for the AMA, and congrats on turning your life around!

RyanPettigrew11 karma

Very few who do it would be ok with being called a homosexual. They just consider it release. Some go all in and form relationships. Sorry to hear about your family member

imperialsoren9 karma

Which one of your gay fantasies was the biggest letdown when you fulfilled it?

RyanPettigrew11 karma

I knew you'd have to get involved with this. Been drinking already? :)

imperialsoren8 karma

I quit drinking Saturday night, RYAN.

RyanPettigrew7 karma

proud of you man

imperialsoren4 karma

thank you.

trodgerable8 karma

what happened here? backstory?

RyanPettigrew14 karma

This is my neighbor who told me about Reddit and he's just messing with me.

yourfaceisamess8 karma

Can you describe a typical day in solitary confinement? How did you keep yourself grounded? What happened to the rapist you beat up? How bad was he hurt?

RyanPettigrew12 karma

Most days are the same. I would get up at 6 am to be ready for my breakfast tray to be put in the tray slot. I would then spend all morning studying and writing letters. At lunch, they'd put another tray through the tray slot and it would get loud because everyone was awake. All afternoon I would work out in my cell, run the area's sport's gambling and talk to friends through the doors and vents. At night, I would relax and watch tv or read.

Five days per week we would get showers and rec where they would cuff us up and escort us to the cells that held the shower or pull up bar. No sunlight, no human contact besides getting cuffed up.

Every two weeks we would get books from the library and only a few phone calls per month.

Most of the day was spent raising hell just to get basic necessities like toilet paper while the guards sit around joke with each other in the office.

notathr0waway12 karma

How did you run sports betting rings from solitary?

RyanPettigrew4 karma

We have a message passing system set up through the plumbing and using strings to pass between cells and pods. I'd let everyone know the spreads in the area and they'd pass me notes containing their bets and stamps.

D1551D3N71 karma

Wow. Necessity is the mother of invention. At a prison near where I live a prisoner made a tatooing machine out of pins and pens and rubber bands and he gave tatoos to other people there.

RyanPettigrew2 karma

That's very creative. Most of the one's I saw were made out of a motor we would steal out of staff's computers.

D1551D3N71 karma

Nice. In the same prison they weren't allowed drugs and since they were thowing them into the yard over the wall from the outside they put a net over the yard so what the friends of prisoners did was put a hook in on top of an egg with drugs inside and when the hook caught on the net the egg cracked and the drugs went into the yard. Did you see any other interesting uses of what little you had in prison?

RyanPettigrew2 karma

They would make anything of everything. It was crazy. I'm not very hands on so I'd always have them make me stuff.

D1551D3N71 karma

Cool. Good luck with your book and the future you have started for yourself :-)

RyanPettigrew1 karma

Thank you.

mc13138 karma

What's the proportion of inmates who actually decide to turn their lives around like you did and also what factors do you think are the most important to achieve this goal? Do you think that cultural background, race, age or political views affect the way a person may rehabilitate from prison?

RyanPettigrew18 karma

The average stay in solitary confinement is two years in Colorado and I've never heard of anyone who has done more than that, even stay out. Reporter Susan Greene specializes on the issue and was in shock when she met me.

The factors most important to my overcoming this was exercise and meditation to lower anxiety and self-education since the system wouldn't let me do correspondence courses.

I think all of those effect one's chances but the choice is on the individual. My family really helped me out so that played a major factor and I doubt I could have done made it if I went to a homeless shelter first.

GSpotAssassin2 karma

Maybe you could mentor prisoners on how to make it out and never return?

RyanPettigrew7 karma

It's something that's in the works but I'm still on parole so the system won't work with me. Once my companies become very profitable, I plan to set up a non-profit with a portion of profits to create a success principle/entrepreneur correspondence course for prisoners. The few who stick with it will get doors opened for them.

BisforBM1 karma

When you say solitary confinement I'm thinking of like, 24 hours a day alone, fed through a slot, never even seeing another human being...

Is that accurate? How on earth can anyone survive 8 years of that?

RyanPettigrew4 karma

Your're right. No sunlight or human contact. I was fed through a tray slot. There's actually a National Geographic documentary on the Colorado State Penitentiary that Netflix has. It'll show you exactly what it's like.

Survival isn't really the issue because most live. How does one remain sane is the question? It's possible but best case scenario leaves serious psychological damage.

Manning017 karma

I'm guessing you were in some sort of Aryan gang?

What was the breakdown of the gangs there? Like how many gangs were there.

RyanPettigrew9 karma

I was a member of the 211 Crew, which is a white prison gang. We took over all the white gangs, the chicanos had four major gangs, the blacks two and even the Mexican Nationals had one.

eli22226 karma

How easy was it to get drugs in jail?

RyanPettigrew10 karma

It was way easy, even in solitary confinement. In general population it was flooded with mostly heroin.

BrucePee1 karma

did you use any drugs ?

RyanPettigrew7 karma

I was a horrible drug addict. I used meth daily until I picked up a heroin habit in prison. I brought that out with me when I was released in 2003. I stayed out for three months then and that's when I received my longer sentence. I've been sober 10 years though.

BrucePee3 karma

Congratz to you ! :)

RyanPettigrew2 karma


RyanPettigrew6 karma

My friend Susan Greene just wrote an excellent article on how Evan Ebel was even concerned about getting out of prison straight from solitary confinement, writing grievances that the system ignored. Here's the link to that http://coloradoindependent.com/127596/clements-murder-suspect-ebel-was-anxious-about-walking-free-documents-show

SwagSnail5 karma

How did you and Evan become friends?

RyanPettigrew11 karma

We were part of the same prison gang and when he got to CSP (Colorado State Penitentiary) I had already been there for awhile. He was one of few with brains, so we passed messages to one another through our underground system. When we moved prisons, we started writing and when he got out, we talked everyday.

spilledonwhite734 karma

Would you say that it is a necessity to join a gang in prison?

Is it more beneficial to join a prison gang than to not join a gang?

RyanPettigrew8 karma

It's not necessary at all, at least not in Colorado. The racial separation is more of a cultural thing and there's really no need for protection. I joined only because my closest friends were all members and I was already involved with it due to that.

It's more beneficial should you want to be in the mix but if you want to lay low, don't join.

cyclefreaksix4 karma

Are you black or white?

RyanPettigrew6 karma


soulsatzero3 karma

Is 211 Crew a reference to the police code for breaking and entering or the malt liquor?

RyanPettigrew3 karma

It's for the California code for armed robbery

friedjumboshrimp3 karma

Good luck in the future, you really need to write a book You've got a way with words and a story to tell.

RyanPettigrew1 karma

Thank you

RyanPettigrew1 karma

I already wrote an autobiography but it's handwritten and I'm working on typing it up.

georginaw3 karma

Congratulations on your success, and best of luck with your new life.

What kind of education did you have before you went in to prison? I notice you've made a few phonetic spelling mistakes (higher/hire, their/there) -- make sure you get your books proof-read, or go over them carefully yourself.

RyanPettigrew2 karma

Spell check is a big help. And I will get it proof read many times.

I only had a GED when I went to prison and wasn't allowed to earn more while locked up.

Loweded3 karma

Boxers or Briefs?

RyanPettigrew18 karma

Boxer briefs

Bulbasaur122 karma

When i think of torture i think of the about what they portray in movies, stone walls, tall ceilings, rats everywhere, a dripping pipe, freezing floors, chained to a wall, etc. How close to reality is this portrayl of torture?

RyanPettigrew2 karma

The prison I was in was newer so many of those problems didn't exist BUT I went through situations that you wouldn't even think about. From what I hear, sleep deprivation techniques were banned by the Geneva Convention but they employed them on us all the time. Or they would put me in a cell infested with human feces; or a freezing cell without clothing or bedding; or refuse to give you toilet paper.

Just think about how the mind would react to too much time to think, in a place where you're viewed as sub-human and have to almost freak out just to get basic necessities.

One time my friend was having a diabetic seizure and they shocked him with electricity.

They beat us up and refuse medical attention.

generic-brand1 karma

Diabetics have it real rough in prison. I'm not sure how much it is COs denying care and/or nurses, but I know for a fact that many of those nurses would lose their licenses extremely fast if they tried to pull some of their shit anywhere other than a prison.

RyanPettigrew1 karma

Agreed. I'm sure it's completely unethical for any medical or mental health staff to view their patients as sub-human. It makes me sick knowing what they put people through in there who have medical and mental issues.

mrpirate232 karma


RyanPettigrew5 karma

No. They actually protect them and punish us for beating them.

Grey_Eminence2 karma

What are your thoughts on the killing spree Abel went on? Did you know the other guys that were wanted? (I hadn't followed what was going on with that lately)

RyanPettigrew4 karma

I understand the deep rooted hatred that develops in their and the only thing that keeps murdering sprees rare is that most self-destruct when they get out. People don't understand the amount of mental torture we go through in their on top of the constant poking us with the stick by the guards. We HATE them but I won't let them win and if I acted out, they win.

Even though I get it, Tom Clements was the ONLY Executive Director that actually tried to fix the problem and it's unfortunate that this had to happen to him. Although, he's also ultimately responsible for the actions of his subordinates, who all came at us worse because they were mad that he was helping us. The good 'ol boys hated him because they hated us.

I know Ghouli real well but never met the other guy. They were all into the drug scene so I cut ties with those guys. I doubt they had anything to do with it just because Evan didn't like them. I hear the Saudi Arabian rumors but think they are far fetched and still believe this was just Evan's way of fighting back while calming his inner chaos.

RyanPettigrew3 karma

Troy Anderson is a VERY good friend of mine and we keep in touch. I'm also friends with the reporter who wrote that.

ServantofProcess2 karma

What advice would you give to a guy who's going to prison but isn't tough or particularly streetwise?

RyanPettigrew5 karma

Being tough isn't a necessity. It comes down to honor and not allowing yourself to be bullied, even if that means taking the occasional ass whipping.

66sick2 karma

Do you ever plan or have recently done interviews or write a book in the future? Would love to hear your story and I hope you win the case.

RyanPettigrew2 karma

I actually wrote an autobiography while in prison but it's handwritten and I'm typing it up. It's not just a story either. I have lessons at the end of every section which teach people to learn from a specific mistake.

I'm also going to self-publish a book of essays like I write on my blog.

Dizzydsmith2 karma

What was it like having bacon for the first time after getting out?

RyanPettigrew2 karma

All the food I had been without for so long tasted so good that I can't even put it into words. The food is horrible in prison and you get used to that.

dabeeisme2 karma

What did you do to keep yourself occupied while spending so much time alone?

RyanPettigrew12 karma

All morning while the others slept, I studied business, real estate investing, law, philosophy and psychology. I wrote a book and exercised.

Xotta1 karma

How did you take the first step to get on the property ladder?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

I studied real estate investing while in prison and when I got out, I joined ICOR (Investment Community of the Rockies) which is the Colorado branch of the National Real Estate Investment Association. I've been working at becoming designated as a real estate investor through education and set up my own business wholesaling properties (flipping contracts) to the rehabbers and buy and hold guys that I met. This is the cheapest way to start with the less risk.

Now I created a system and am placing newer wholesalers under me and we are setting up in every major county in Colorado. Once I build cash reserves, I'll flip houses and do buy and holds myself.

Xotta1 karma

I'm from the UK & suffered a very disadvantaged childhood, my education is near non existent. My major hurdle is currently getting a start in life, I work full time, have a second part time job and outsource some online work to friends but i was left with a lot of debt and mental health issues (which i am largely over). I cannot seem to amass any savings despite aspiring to live as frugally as possible, once on the back foot it seems getting ahead to the point i can start to invest and save is near impossible. Did you have any money available after imprisonment? Or advice to getting off the back foot and onto my way up?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

I didn't have any money besides what friends and family gave me so I didn't starve. I keep my bills VERY low so that I don't need to work much in order to pay them. Then, I use extra money to put into my business, mostly into marketing. Find self-employment opportunities that need little start up money and carry smaller risk. Outsourcing can be a great way to start then make sure you can save money every month. Eventually that builds so you can invest.

5yearstime2 karma

What is your view on crime reduction? Are you in favour of harsher sentences and more money spent on corrections, or do you think money would be better spent on social programs?

RyanPettigrew20 karma

I think crime reduction is two fold. Criminals need to learn how to be productive citizens while locked up and less things should be illegal. It's not the gov't's business what people choose to do with their own body's and lives as long as it doesn't directly violate the fundamental rights of another person.

The problem with harsher sentences is that they foolishly believe that the worse prison conditions are that it'll magically change someone into something they don't know how to be (productive citizen).

Dizzydsmith2 karma

The problem is, drugs DO affect other people. For starters, drugs like meth are just all kinds of chemicals mixed, and can be fatal in itself. Secondly, a lot of crimes are committed by drug users to either a) get money for more drugs or b) they are so fucking high they don't know what they are doing.There are many more factors, such as getting young teens hooked and fucking up their lives, driving under the influence and killing someone (alcohol is just as bad in this regard), etc.

You were dealing drugs. That very easily could have fucked up a kids life. I had a friend that wasn't even 16 yet. She was hanging out with older guys and using cocaine. She got really fucked up, they panicked, and literally dumped her on the side of the road to die... And she did. She would have almost certainly lived had they taken her to a hospital. But they didn't, because they were high and not thinking clear, and were worried they would get in trouble.

So I'm sorry, but there is no way to justify drugs like cocaine, heroin, meth, etc.

(Note that I left marijuana out of this, because I don't put it in this category).

EDIT: All of that aside, you paid your time and are working to make a better life for yourself. I respect that. Just know that you will face many challenges ahead due to your past, stay strong and know that if you could survive solitary confinement, I'm sure you can handle anything in the real world. Just turn yo SWAG ON!

RyanPettigrew2 karma

We're talking about many different issues here. What I put in my body, only effects me. So, if I die from them, that's MY fault. The problem with society now a days is people refuse to take responsibility for their actions. The gov't shouldn't be allowed to dictate what I put in my body.

I'm also dead against preventative law because it punishes responsible people for the actions of a few. Many drug addicts will commit crimes in order to pay for their addictions. At that point, they need to be punished for breaking the law. Making the possible cause for the act illegal leaves too much room for abuse.

I'm sorry to hear about your friend and I know how ugly that world is. I was a homeless kid using drugs. I've seen it all.

mattyizzo2 karma

While I appreciate this AMA, and agree with many of your views, I do see an issue with how what you put in your body affects others.

If you put something harmful in your body, you effect all of those around you to some degree. If you end up OD'ing or breaking the law, someone has to pay for that. Whether it be your family, friends or the government.

Whether the government spends more money trying to prevent it or trying to fix it is another issue.

I just don't think it's a clear cut an issue as "What I put in my body is my responsibility." It effects many people, one way or another.

Either way, I appreciate this AMA and learning quite a lot. Thank you.

Edit: Also, like others have said, congrats on turning your situation around. Hope I don't come off as an asshole.

RyanPettigrew1 karma

Thanks and you didn't come across as an asshole at all. The issue just brings in many opinions. I believe the drug itself entering the body doesn't effect others but effects decision making and subsequent action can effect others.

Dizzydsmith1 karma

The problem with your logic regarding preventative law is this: it's easier said than done. You said it yourself, MANY drug abusers commit crimes that affect innocent people (with robbery probably being the most prevalent). You think that we should just punish those people, and basically not let one (or MANY in this case) rotten fruit spoil the bunch. However, these people often commit numerous crimes before being caught. It's not like they commit one crime and then the police catch them immediately following that and say "sorry, you can't do that.. You're going to jail now!" So basically, the law is justified in my opinion because so many people DO commit crimes related to hard drugs, that it would be stupid to make an exception for the minority that DON'T. The fact that so many do commit crimes shows an obvious direct correlation to these drugs influencing people to commit these crimes.

RyanPettigrew3 karma

To me, it's just an issue of once we allow the gov't to control one thing we put in our bodies, then they start to outlaw cheeseburgers. I personally know that I can't handle drugs so I don't do them. If I do, and I do something that hurts another, I should be punished; not because I did drugs, but because I hurt someone.

Besides, gov't loses their credibility on the issue when they so willingly condone pharmaceutical companies' policy to prescribe opiate pain killers so frequently but are completely against medical marijuana. Or when they take out the Taliban, only to teach the new gov't how to farm poppy seeds and increase heroin supplies.

Dizzydsmith1 karma

Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely not justifying everything the government does. I also feel that doctors are too quick to drug up kids and teens, often times with drugs that are far worse than marijuana. I'm not saying it isn't always unwarranted, but in my personal experiences... I know that these prescribed drugs like xanax, codeine, etc are often sold to other kids.

RyanPettigrew2 karma

I think kids if you sell drugs to a kid, even doctors, there should be a strict punishment. They are still developing and that shouldn't be messed with. Once adults, however, they should live as they choose, knowing that if they do something stupid while under the influence, they will be punished.

BearBong2 karma

Big ups on turning your shit around. I respect you did it with education at its backbone.

In any event, 2 questions:

• If someone were to get arrested for 15 years tomorrow, what would you tell them before they had to go in?

• What role does the War on Drugs play in the prison systems? Colorado might be different, but purely wondering.


RyanPettigrew8 karma


I would tell them the entire outlaw lifestyle is a facade. Everyone will sell you out and no one lives by the rules they speak so loudly about. So lay low, educate yourself in things that can translate to a pay check and focus on self-employment upon release because no one will higher you.

The war on drugs is the gov't's way of keeping the jails full and their pockets lined. Most of the people in prison are in their for drugs. They should be in rehab and out working, I don't believe it's anyone's business if these people want to get high until they commit a crime while high.

fforw3 karma

They should be in rehab and out working

Yeah, but that would require them to actually have work. It's far more convenient to lock up a sizable portion of the population to both keep the unemployment rates down and get cheaper workers.

RyanPettigrew3 karma

I agree, it's political. They make money on prison workers and their slave wages. But if they aren't felons and just addicts, they can either keep their jobs or find one. I live in Fort Collins, Colorado and there's plenty of jobs for those who want to work. Plus, people need to learn that we are in a new age. Now it's best to develop a skill then 1099 with multiple companies

iDrawlife1 karma

How was prision, was it scary?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

Too many people in prison beat their chest and like they aren't ever scared of anything but that's foolish. I'm scared of snakes, heights and swimming. But prison in Colorado was a joke. Sure you could get killed but violence wasn't ever really something that overwhelmed me.

iDrawlife1 karma

Colorado seems like such a nice, mellow place. When I'm done with college I am kind of thinking about moving there. Thank you for answering by the way!

RyanPettigrew1 karma

Colorado is a great place to live and we don't have the issues with the economy like other places do. Only problem is that gov't got a little out of hand.

iDrawlife1 karma

Yeah that is true. But marijuana legalized, the nice people, the awesome winters. It all seems terrific. Marijauna legalization is half the reason I want to go there, in Massachusetts, I have been fined too many fucking times for possesion. I just want to go somewhere it is legal.

RyanPettigrew1 karma

I'm all about Amendment 64 and I love it out here.

iDrawlife1 karma

/r/trees would love you.

RyanPettigrew1 karma

Why is that?

iDrawlife1 karma

They love anybody who consumes weed and agrees with the legalization of it.

RyanPettigrew1 karma

I'll smoke plenty of weed when I'm done with parole and am all about legalization.

bawss1 karma

I recently read an article about a man who did 25+ years in the SHU and he described it as being worse than a death sentence, how people become insane, etc. The solitary confinement you described in this thread thus far is much better than what he's experience; he didn't get a tv. Just 23 hours in the cell and 1 hour in a concrete yard.

Do you think you would go crazy doing 25+ in the SHU?

Also, congrats on turning yourself around, I wish you the best.

RyanPettigrew1 karma

Thank you. I would've been just fine without my tv because I preferred books and writing. In his concrete yard, I'm sure he got sunlight because most SHU facilities have single man fenced in yards where they get sunlight. We didn't get ANY sunlight and that wore on me badly. Towards the end, I was constantly breaking out in cold sweats until I was released and experienced sunlight. Then it stopped right away.

I have some issues as is, so they would only be worse if I did 25 years like that. I like to think that I would keep it together but can't say for sure. If I had that long and knew I wouldn't get out of solitary, I would've done something to receive the death penalty.

Assmcfatty1 karma

What was your favorite TV show to watch while in Prison?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

Flip this house

ComedicSavant1 karma

What kept you from killing yourself? How do you find the hope to change humanity when you've seen such evil?

RyanPettigrew4 karma

I'm too stubborn to kill myself and vengeance kept me going strong. The way for me to get back at the system was to become successful when they tried to break me.

There's no way to change humanity, only to help the few who want help.

armyflanker71 karma

did u ever work for UNICOR or whatever they call it in CO?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

I have no idea what that is.

armyflanker71 karma

its the federal prison industry system. when used in the state system they make license plates and furniture for state agencies and such

RyanPettigrew1 karma

They have something similar in Colorado but I spent 8 of 12 years in solitary confinement so I didn't work at all during that time. When I was in general population, I was only allowed to work in kitchens and laundry.

i_eat_cows1 karma

I saw a documentary on solitary confinement from National Geographic. In it they talked about how prisoners would "fish" for notes by hooking a piece of cardboard attached to a string around another string that had a note on it. It also said that some cells have vents that inmates use to talk through, and lastly sending notes through books. I guess my question is weather or not this is true, if you partook in these communication methods, what would happen if you got caught, and what you would generally say or talk about when you would communicate? Sorry about the long question

RyanPettigrew1 karma

All of that is true and I was in the pod where the guy got gassed in the rec room and put a sock over his face as a mask. We would also fish with the pod below us by flushing a string with notes wrapped in plastic at the end.

Most of that was used to gamble and barter between pods but also for gang instructions. I was involved in all of that and we were punished by shutting our tv off when caught. Not a big deal at all. They know there's nothing they could do to stop it.

fredfleet1 karma

A addict would enter prison having lost everything. How do they pay for drugs on the inside? How much does a habit cost inside?

How many people come out of solitary sane? Isn't half the point to send you slightly mad? Did it help rehabilitate you in anyway, or was it just a cruel punishment?

As a white non-racist would I need to join a supremacist group to survive? How many in those gangs aren't racist but looking out for themselves? Do you have to earn and keep your place in the gang by doing bad things?

Would you compare the prison system and its labour a modern form of slavery?


RyanPettigrew6 karma

Drugs are VERY expensive on the inside. A chapstick cap of weed would cost $20 and a smidgen of heroin would cost $50. People can make money on their "hustles", like drawing, tattooing, selling drugs, gambling, etc. It's an entire world of black market hustling. Even stealing food from the kitchen or doing laundry. Everything provides a hustle.

Most of the people I know "break" in solitary but just to different degrees. And even those few who don't, develop major issues. Everyone has extreme OCD and deep rooted hatred. No one feels comfortable around people. I still have many issues but work hard to deal with them.

It didn't help me in any way, I became a better man despite their every effort to prevent that. They denied all education, even when my parents offered to pay for correspondence courses and buy me books. They want us ignorant and angry so we return.

You wouldn't have to join anything and the gangs themselves aren't really "supremacist" but rather racially segregated. The gangs that come from the streets aren't racist at all but joining another race's gang makes you a target. You wouldn't necessarily have to earn money but if you aren't, you will be a foot soldier.

Absolutely! Prison is modern slavery.

fredfleet1 karma

Thanks for the responses.

So do addicts end up having to 'earn' money? And how? Not everyone can provide a service. And with no cash allowed, or not much anyway, how do the dealers get paid, or do people have to smuggle cash out?

So in your opinion is solitary designed purely to break people down? Why would you do that to people who will be let out into society at some point?

I honestly don't know if mixed gangs exist on the outside (UK here) but on the inside would you have to ditch your old gang on join a new one based on skin colour? Is there rivalry between same race gangs or do the different races each form big gangs?

And why is colour of skin the only division of gangs across all the prisons? Visibility?

RyanPettigrew2 karma

Anyone can earn in some way in prison. They can steal from their prison jobs, make tattoo ink, etc. Dealers get paid through the barter system or having family members of users send money to their family.

I believe that solitary confinement's only purpose is to break people, especially when the system prevents education. They do that because they want ex-convicts to re-offend so they come back. It's all about job security.

You wouldn't have have to join a new gang but you would be a target if you were part of another race's gang. The minority gangs are enemies from the outside and that gets brought to prison so they battle more than anything that happens between races.

I think skin color is the dividing line due to visibility and culture. Let's face it, different races act differently. And it's those differences which can cause major problems in there since everyone's stacked up on top of each other.

str8wild1 karma

How are you working in real estate with a felony conviction? And, if you don't mind me asking, what state are you in?

RyanPettigrew2 karma

I'm in Colorado and I only need a real estate license to sell other people's properties for a commission. I flip contracts and will eventually flip houses.

str8wild1 karma

What do you mean by "flip contracts" and did you get into it through family?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

Flipping contracts is also known as wholesaling. I get a deal on a distressed property under contract then re-assign that contract to someone who flips houses or does buy and holds.

I got into this on my own. I had access to real estate books in prison and studied. Then I joined the Colorado branch of the National Real Estate Investment Association called ICOR (Investment Community of the Rockies). The founders of ICOR took me under their wing, seeing potential and being impressed with my story. Now they created a part time job with them.

I also breed a rare dog with family called presacanario, own a social network website for the animal industry called breederclick.com and am trying to get into motivational speaking. Although, I won't be any good at that until I overcome my fear of public speaking.

Justathrowawayo1 karma


RyanPettigrew2 karma

Good question. Literally, you're right. I'll always be someone convicted of a felony. We use the term because "convict" is a term that applies to the few in prison who follow the rules set by the convicts. So by calling myself an "ex-convict", I'm saying I live by society's rules.

The other issue is since I'll always be a felon, that'll always be an obstacle no matter how righteously I'm living.

Justathrowawayo2 karma


RyanPettigrew1 karma

You're right and my lawsuit is guided more by stubbornness than thinking I'll win, despite being correct legally. Retribution for me comes in success.

Panentheist1 karma

Those conditions nobody should haveto go through.. I understand and I really hope things are better for you now.

RyanPettigrew1 karma

Things are great now, it just took a long time to adjust. I had found peace in misery and didn't know how to deal with joy. I literally almost broke down over the smallest things that were good. It's just scary how the mind could embrace the bad to the point that it couldn't deal with good.

Panentheist1 karma

I bet.. alot of people take things for granted, you'd haveto really know what its like to have nothing and feel the deepest despair, to experience and feel true happiness, especially the little things.. I was in a similar situation, completely changed my outlook and life.

RyanPettigrew1 karma

I have a tough time feeling empathy for people when they panic over things I find trivial. Life beat me down but you're right, now I'm able to experience true joy. What happened to you?

simplenoodlemoisture1 karma

you aren't troy anderson

RyanPettigrew1 karma

No, Troy won't ever get out of prison but I'm good friends with him.

[deleted]1 karma


RyanPettigrew4 karma

There's always unofficial consequences for fighting the system and both of us have received them for years due to our bringing attention to the system's corruption. They have to tread carefully, however, when we don't allow them to force us to lose our cool. That's usually how they justify their mistreatment, provoking us until we snap. They really hate me though because I don't give them that.

Troy's even more of a target now that he won. They actually have violated every part of what he won in his lawsuit and they are taking DOC back to court for that. He'll win big but is going through hell in the process.

Bypassomega1 karma

Thanks for the AMA!! You mentioned that you were able to get books every few weeks- how does that system work? I've always been curious. Is there a limit to how many books you can borrow? What kind of selection did they have at the prison you were incarcerated in? Do rules for books apply differently to prisoners in solitary than to prisoners in general population?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

We would be allowed 3 to 5 books for two weeks from the library but the books were mostly dated so serious study was limited. We could own a few books but they made it almost impossible to change out those books for newer ones. General population had a better selection in the library and they allowed more personally owned books.

quiverous1 karma

If someone wanted to donate a bunch of books to a prison library, what do you think would be on most inmates' wishlist?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

It would probably be popular novels or any books relating to power, strategy, self-help, etc.

thatoneguywhocantfit1 karma

I've heard people describe Jail/Prison as kind of like a city in itself. Is that true?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

It's more than that, it's like a parallel universe almost.

BrucePee1 karma

Nice to hear a voice from the "inside", thank you. 3 questions. * How did you manage to keep your sanity when it was so quiet?

  • Do you feel like you knew more deeper "stuff" of your mind when you spent so much time with yourself?

*Did you write any quotes or poems when you where on the inside?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

1) It was only quiet in the morning when the others slept. It was horribly loud all day long. I would have to seal my door with newspaper just to keep it from driving me crazy.

2) I went through a period of deep introspection just to maintain my sanity. I studied success, behavioral psychology and philosophy because I needed to find inner peace. I went from rebellion to self-righteous. I was miserable in both phases. Then it clicked, balance and individuality were the answer. To keep it short, master strengths, strengthen weaknesses, achieve your highest potential while satisfying physical and psychological needs in a balanced manner. All of us have beliefs and needs that are frowned upon by society. Embrace it, love yourself. Peace comes at that point. Freud described the battle between the ego (human nature) and superego (morality). Why does it need to be a battle? Morality must run in harmony with human nature without embracing hedonism.

I posted one of my poems on my blog at http://ryanpettigrew7.blog.com/

I write many essays on finding inner peace, individualism and success principles.

BrucePee1 karma

A very rich answer. Thank you. Great poem. In the way you are talking it sounds like you read meditation/ buddism kind of things, am i right? If you still like to read i would recommend, Sogyal Rinpoche's - The tibetan book of life and death, and all books written by Hunter S Thompson. One more question. What was the first thing you wanted to eat when you came out, and how good did it taste?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

I meditate daily or else I would've lost my mind.

My friend just gave me a Hunter S. Thompson book to read.

I wanted a steak and authentic mexican food.

I'll have more poems up but it takes time typing everything

Nation221 karma

Do you think you missed out onthehousong market when it was at a real low while you were in jail and how big of an effect did real estate have on your life turn around?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

My ability to capitalize on the buyer's market would've been limited and I would be starting from scratch as I am now. Although, I want to be prepared for the inevitable correction when the next buyer's market occurs.

Real estate gave me an opportunity to make money legally and helped me focus on something positive.

hattrickptrck221 karma

Who are you planning on publishing with?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

One of the founders of ICOR, the real estate investment community I belong to and work for, sent me some information on self-publishing ebooks through Amazon so I think that's where I'll do it unless something comes up that's better.