For clarification 40 years were suspended. I ended up doing about 6 years. I was also sentenced to 10 years probation which I violated in 2007 and served 5 months in jail. I have seen pretty much everything you can imagine. I have been out of Prison for 15 years! Ask me anything!

My wife and I also have a small sub /r/ExCons. We started the sub to help those former inmates recently released. Our hope is that the recidivism rate our communities face will dwindle with more people helping a stigmatized group of individuals. Please visit us and contribute. Thanks so much.

Submitted proof to Mods.

EDIT#1- So after over 8 hours of answering questions... I will need to call it a night soon. I sincerely appreciate everyone's interest and will answer more tomorrow. Please visit our sub /r/ExCons :)

Comments: 5835 • Responses: 71  • Date: 

jlange941832 karma

Serious question; is there that much rape in prison as everyone assumes?

novaguy282480 karma

Absolutely not, it happens from time to time but it is not as prevalent as one would think or TV portrays. Too many homosexuals willing to scratch that itch.

uber_n3rd1626 karma

This is the answer I see every time the question is asked of an ex-con.

They say the combination of drugs and loneliness leads to more consentual gay sex than you'd think.

novaguy281624 karma

From what I read it is more prevalent in female prisons, I would say you are spot on though.

Damadar1470 karma

What did you go to jail for?

blackplague12417 karma

everybody in here is innocent. dont you know that?

novaguy282058 karma

nice Shawshank reference... Brooks was here

novaguy282045 karma

B&E, forgery & grand larceny- was charged with 32 offenses but took a plea deal and was convicted of 5 felonies.

jay5250934 karma

Oh, so you deserved it.

Popcom345 karma

50 years for stealing some shit seems like a bit much. Most murderers don't get that.

novaguy28189 karma

I agree...

migbike110 karma

how did you get caught? what were you forging?

novaguy28248 karma

Stolen checks, I had a driver's license with my photo but someone else's info. When the police interviewed the guy, they said they had no idea, so police went to DMV and there was my picture on his id.

lilbundes1416 karma

What is the best new technology you've come across since leaving prision?

novaguy282196 karma

I was freaked out that you could actually "pay at the pump" when I came home! CDs were fairly new as well, to me anyway.

KeyFramez1696 karma

Amazing how a prison sentence is basically a really slow boring timemachine. Any other things you found new and interesting?

novaguy281603 karma

Cell phones and the internet was only dial-up at the time, but still amazed me. Think of all the things that came out between 1992-1998, especially in technology. My mind was often blown.

briguy191368 karma

I briefly worked as a defense attorney. The best comparison I could give people to explain what being in prison was like was that it's like being stuck in traffic. For years.

novaguy281507 karma

You are so correct. Except in a car by yourself

aur0ra1451296 karma

How prevalent was gang membership and gang violence? Were you in a gang? If not, did you feel pressure to join one?

novaguy281718 karma

There certainly were some gangs and gang riots, but I found that if you just did "your time" and commanded respect, you never really had a problem. I was not in a gang myself.

WNW31218 karma

[deleted]

novaguy281804 karma

Sure- There was 1 experience when I first went in that I was approached by someone offering to loan me cigs till I had money on my commissary books. I declined because I had someone already covering my smokes. The guy became angry and I had to stand up to him, he was looking to make "interest" off me. After people see that you will stand up for yourself, you do not have as many problems.

thebassoe532 karma

Shank someone every once in a while

novaguy28655 karma

Or that...

KarlyPilkoids1263 karma

Did you have cellmates? What were they like? What was the longest time you had the same cellmate(s).?

novaguy281911 karma

Sure did. Most were pretty cool, occasionally you got an asshole or 2. For the most part, people respected each other. The longest cell-mate was probably 11 months during a lock-down after our Warden got stabbed.

PresidentPlate1159 karma

Is there anything about prison life that the majority of the public probably wouldn't know?

novaguy281907 karma

TONS of drugs, if you have cash $$$ you can pretty much get anything you want. Prison has it's own currency- a $50 cash bill is worth $100 in commissary. People barter and trade all the time. There is not as much violence as people think.

dangerspeedman879 karma

How do things like drugs get into the system? Were there ever any guards that were in on the action?

novaguy281568 karma

Sure..All the time. Mostly people would lube their ass before their visitors came. Once in the visitor's room, the girl or guy who came to visit would go to the bathroom, pull out the package and the inmate would suitcase the package in their ass. Guards were bought all the time.

tgt3051003 karma

Is there like an honor code amongst prisoners? Like, do the pedophiles really get treated worse versus someone in for murder?

novaguy281421 karma

Certainly and your reputation precedes you if you get transferred to another prison. Molesters, child killers and rapists are the worst and have the toughest time. Inmates who commit violent crimes behind bars get a lot of rep.

tgt305673 karma

How do reputations get passed along (from prison to prison)? Do most inmates know each other?

novaguy281060 karma

Most people that have rep, are serving long sentences and get transferred around every few years. Word travels...

PuckIsLife884 karma

What was the worst thing you saw?

novaguy281798 karma

Inmate stabbed 3 times in the chest while on the phone with his wife. He lived, no clue how.

NatureHorsesPot857 karma

  1. Is there an area of the prison 'designed' for inmates who require a calmer atmosphere to thrive?

  2. If a stomach virus goes around, and all of the inmates get sick, how does the prison respond? How are all of the inmates taken care of in response to an outbreak of the flu?

  3. What types of things did you do to keep yourself from being driven insane?

novaguy281089 karma

1- It's called "protective custody"

2- Prison medical treatment is sub-par at best. Unless you are dying, good luck with the little ailments.

3- I played basketball, worked out, watched TV, played cards and tried not to think about the time I had left.

KipDiddler1046 karma

How many times did you fuck around and get a triple double in the prison rec league basketball games?

novaguy281708 karma

Fun fact for you---We had leagues. Probably 10 or so teams. We even had an all girls team (homosexuals). I played every year. Out of about 1200 inmates (not in the league) I was the only white guy that could dunk...So white men can jump or I used to be able to anyway!

jonnyrufles850 karma

How was your relationship with the other inmates?

novaguy281270 karma

Fairly decent, however, I was stabbed in the back of the head and the hand. He did wear an ass-whipping afterwards :) Pics below:

Hand; http://i.imgur.com/KTwQu02.jpg

Head: http://i.imgur.com/I4b7zer.jpg

feasor776 karma

would you mind elaborating? How did it get to that point (you getting stabbed)?

Thank you for sharing

novaguy281750 karma

I had a picture of my ex-wife (she's black, I'm white) on my wall in my cell and another inmate had seen it. He ended up making lewd comments and I said something back, I looked around at my surroundings and as I turned back I saw him swing... that is when he caught the back of my head. He swung again and I grabbed his wrist, he pulled back and ended up cutting my hand. I grabbed my TV of all things and smacked him in the head with it (lucky shot) and was sent to solitary, 9 mos later I was transferred to another prison.

bprax103 karma

There's not even any blood!

novaguy28133 karma

very funny

ruperthackedmyphone776 karma

Do you feel prison rehabilitated you?

novaguy281346 karma

Rehabilitated? Can't really say... I will say that I will never give the state another day of my life and would never victimize another human being. My change in thought process had nothing to do with anything the prison offered me.

ruperthackedmyphone452 karma

Thanks. Did prison offer you anything positive and what do you feel prisons need to do in order to have more success in rehabilitating offenders?

novaguy28921 karma

More programs that help inmates transition into society. Please visit our sub for more info.

BroVsWade703 karma

1.) Did you ever have your life seriously threatened by another inmate?

2.) What is the most ridiculous thing you've seen (not necessarily violent, but the thing that really made you go "WTF")?

3.) Have you kept in contact with any fellow inmates?

novaguy281312 karma

1- Yes, I was stabbed... see above I posted the pics in another response.

2- Woke up for work to take a shower at 2:30 am (I worked in the mess hall) and saw a literal, sexual "oreo cookie" - made up of 3 dudes in the shower. You can use your imagination as to what that looked like. I walked away and took a shower AFTER work.

3- Yes, actually a friend of mine who served 27 years was released in 2004. Once he was released, I let him come visit me to get back on his feet. We live in the same town now, but I do not see him often as he has a serious drinking problem and I cannot be around that.

generic-brand937 karma

I'd probably be an alcoholic if I spent 27 years in prison too.

novaguy281028 karma

It is sad to see but yeah, it is more understandable.

BroVsWade431 karma

Mmmm... double stuff oreos.

On a serious note- was it common for people to just walk around with shivs or was that guy just looking for trouble?

novaguy28513 karma

Fairly common, people would hide them in rolled-up newspapers or bury them in the yard.

SmokeorPass674 karma

[deleted]

novaguy281122 karma

In maximum security, the inmates pretty much ran everything, guards stayed away. The only time the guards would get involved would be if there was a fight, stabbing or riot.

TerminalVector384 karma

Really? Is this because there are "trustees" who are given specvial treatment in exchange for running things?

novaguy28693 karma

Not at all. When shit goes down, everyone either gets involved or gets out of the way.

jucestain612 karma

What level of education do you have? I don't want to sterotype but your responses are actually really well written. Did you pursue some sort of degree in prison or after you were let out?

novaguy282309 karma

Thank you. My wife actually wrote many of the responses. She went to Penn State. That is an on-going joke because I went to the State Pen. A tiny bit of college for me when I came home which was enough.

crluen575 karma

How was the food?

novaguy281060 karma

The basic prison food was pretty bad, however, if you had money and could go to the commissary, you would be amazed at the concoctions that can be "MacGyver-ed" with ramen, summer sausage, cheese, hot sauce, jalapenos etc...

Ezbakeoven1733 karma

A friend of mine did 4 years and of all of the stories he told me, the food ones were the most interesting.

One time he said they crushed up crackers to make a "crust", and took apples from the cafeteria for an apple pie and baked it for someone's birthday. Ramen and Cheez-Its was another one. He said with enough commissary money you ate real well inside.

esquinato890 karma

I eat Ramen and Cheez-Its and I've never been to prison.....

novaguy28828 karma

Good for you. We should exchange recipes!

novaguy28270 karma

You are correct sir.

ccthefrog531 karma

What do you do now that you're out of prison? Also has your probation finished?

novaguy28805 karma

I work in a warehouse, lost all my college years in prison. It was very difficult getting a job. I had 10 years probation and it was finished after my violation in 2007.

Whybotherr517 karma

Did you do it?

novaguy281159 karma

Yes and I regret it every day of my life.

djm92493 karma

How did you and your wife meet, and did she know you were a convict when she met you?

novaguy28903 karma

I was married 3 times, 1st time was while in prison and stayed with her for 12 years, I was looking for someone to stick with me throughout my sentence. She did not but we hooked up afterwards and had 2 children. 2nd wife was just an 18 month mistake. I was up front and honest with my current wife and we are best friends to this day.

Belgiumboi470 karma

How easy was it to get drugs in prison? Also, what is the best method stay stay as happy as possible during your sentence?

novaguy28758 karma

Super easy. Every Saturday and Sunday were visitation days. Usually "gumps" (homosexuals) would lube themselves up and "suitcase" the drugs and bring them back in. We had contact visits there.

To stay happy: visits with family, letters, phone calls... that's it

PatentAtty440 karma

What were you thinking when you were stealing from people/businesses?

Have you apologized to your victims?

novaguy28817 karma

I was an addict, no excuses. I was one from the age of 12. I can't really say what I was thinking except how to get my next "high".

No, unfortunately, I have never been in contact with any of my victims. If I were to meet them today, as the man I am now, I certainly would apologize.

digables428 karma

What's the most common topic of conversation among inmates?

novaguy28628 karma

Parole and how the upcoming hearing would go.

djm92372 karma

What was a typical day like for an inmate like you from the moment you woke up all the way until lights out?

novaguy28594 karma

If i remember correctly, up at 5 for count time, chow between 6-7:30. Rec time till 11. Another count time. Lunch. yard time again till about 3. Another count. Dinner..A little yard time..Count again, Locked in cellblock..Lockdown at about 9 or 10 ( I do not remember) another count. We were counted 5 or 6 times a day.

bencordoza365 karma

Before you were convicted did the thought of prison deter you at all from breaking the law?

novaguy28915 karma

Not at all... I was an addict, addicts do not worry about the future, only about their next high.

hikersam331 karma

Great AMA. I don't have a question, I just wanted to comment that I don't see the point of locking people up for long lengths of time for non-violent crime. We'd be better off docking their wages and making them do lots of community service. Tossing someone in a cage for more than a few years doesn't seem productive.

novaguy28213 karma

Great idea... upvote! My wife thinks all nonviolent time should be spent in community service, not behind bars.

iliketuurtles310 karma

Is finding new jobs just as difficult as it was 15 years ago, when you got out?

novaguy28814 karma

Yes, it stays with you forever... and can anyone say they are the same person they were 20 years ago? That stigma is part of my sentence.

PimpDimples283 karma

  1. Do you agree that the prison system needs to be reformed and how so?
  2. There was a case in Baltimore where young women who were guards had sex and smuggled illegal items for inmates. Were any guards guilty of misconduct in your prison and what were the sort of acts that they commited?

novaguy28484 karma

Health care, especially mental health care would help tremendously.

As for your 2nd question, yes 2 nurses were fired at a facility I was at for having sexual contact with inmates.

boho_lioness281 karma

You said you were in solitary confinement for 9 months. What kind of affect did it have on you mentally and emotionally?

novaguy28459 karma

It was harder after, to start conversations with people and was more paranoid.

D4C0WG035M00195 karma

What do you believe is the ideal mindset, or actions, that will make serving time easier: avoiding violence, not being bothered, etc?

novaguy28522 karma

Words of advice:

Do not go into debt, with anyone.

Avoid the drug scene.

Don't try to make too many friends.

Do your time and mind your business.

MilkVetch188 karma

Wow. Cut fourty four years. For what? Good behavior?

novaguy28308 karma

No I received 50 but 40 was suspended. Did 6 on 10

geriatric-sanatore188 karma

Do you support the hunger strike currently being used in California or do you think they are only harming themselves? For a personal experience question maybe you can clear up some stereotypes about maximum security. First is rape as big an issue as portrayed by the public? Second do rapists and child molesters really get abused by inmates? Finally is the outside time you are given regulated to lifting weights for the mexicans playing basketball for the blacks and sitting on steps for the whites like in every movie made about prison or is there more of a mixing of races? Thanks for taking the time to answer any of these questions.

novaguy28265 karma

I don't know enough about the hunger-strike in CA to give a proper answer, I have never seen a hunger-strike occur myself. However, I did see a few riots. Rape is not as prevalent as you would think. Regarding child molesters and rapists- they certainly did not get the same amount of respect as other inmates and were often intimidated. It's hard to tell though what a person's crime is unless they talk about it or someone on the outside does research and lets you know. Those people are not broadcasting why they are there.

In some facilities the "outside time" is segregated, depending on the security... I was transferred twice. Mostly inmates hung out with their demographic as opposed to race from what i saw (Alexandria people together, Richmond together etc...)

knightschool159 karma

Did you find adapting to life outside of prison difficult? I imagine things like shopping, cooking and living in general would have been difficult, especially because you were pretty young when you first entered prison. How did you adapt? Did the prison help?

novaguy28316 karma

Absolutely, the hardest part is that I was scanning my surroundings (and still at times do). I have to have something on to fall asleep, TV or radio... I have to have noise because I was so used to it. As far as cooking and living in general, it was a tough transition, however I am lucky to have good people in my life that have helped me along.

Did prison help? Absolutely... it made me realize how much of a selfish-punk-kid I was. But they did not help in anyway after I was released.

YarLady72 karma

As a follow up Q on the one above, how have you made a living as a convicted felon since you've been out? My understanding is that it's quite difficult to get a decent job with a felony background.

novaguy28210 karma

It is so hard to find an employer who is willing to overlook something you did 20 years ago. My actions from then continue to haunt me in that way. Luckily, I have found a place where they did overlook it and I have been able to thrive. Not everyone is this lucky... that is why we made our sub /r/ExCons to try to help other people who might not have support.

korax84142 karma

What were your crimes?

novaguy28193 karma

B&E, forgery & grand larceny- was charged with 32 offenses but took a plea deal and was convicted of 5 felonies.

redangelman123 karma

You mentioned Alexandria and Richmond. Were you mostly in facilities in Virginia? How do they compare from what you've heard of facilities elsewhere?

novaguy28186 karma

My crimes were not federal and I was convicted by the state, I only served here in Virginia. As far as other prisons and other states, I cannot comment... sorry

hopeyesperanza93 karma

Are there opportunities for education in prison? If so, what kind? Did you have access to computers (not necessarily connected to the internet)?

Happy to hear that you are living a good life now.

novaguy28144 karma

Thanks. Not much computer access when I was in. I am not sure now. They did have GED courses and some trade courses but they were at various prisons. So if you were not there, you were fucked.

cait_o88 karma

This AMA has been a really interesting read. I think what your wife and you are doing with that sub is awesome.

novaguy2860 karma

Thank you so much... we are open to suggestions, it is new so we kinda need all the help we can get :)

oregonduk78 karma

What is your ethnicity and how did it affect your experience in prison?

novaguy28214 karma

Skinny, white guy... long hair when I went in. http://i.imgur.com/6Dy6NRo.jpg Like my proof pic but no glasses, younger and long hair.

stievstigma77 karma

If another inmate takes food off your plate and you don't do anything about it, are you automatically labeled a punk? I ask because I did a month in county and this happened to me. I didn't care because I wear dentures and couldn't eat the apple anyway. A friend of mine that did 4 years told me though, that if I had been locked up longer, that incident would have most certainly come back to bite me in the ass (perhaps literally).

novaguy28319 karma

Sorry... never had that experience but an inmate did fart loudly at a table once and was promptly punched in his face for being disrespectful during a meal.

tikitiger67 karma

Did you spend time in a public or privatized prison? What are your views on private prisons, contracted by the government, who need to max out capacity to stay afloat?

novaguy28122 karma

Public... State-ran prison. I don't know enough about private prisons to offer much of an opinion, but from the few things I have read, I think they are a joke.

jasonwalt44 karma

They say prison is a school of crime... What's the most common crazy scam/crime people talk about?

novaguy2887 karma

Probably bank robberies, too easy to get caught for such a small amount of money.

The_Patrick_Bateman_28 karma

cant believe this hasn't been asked but what did you do to break your probation?

novaguy2836 karma

Traveled out of state without permission and missed an appointment with my PO.

Codyxbell24 karma

1) Have you encountered many repeat visitors? Like people who got out and had a hard time reintegrating into society and ended up back in prison?

2) What is the craziest prison story you have heard?

novaguy2857 karma

Sure, seen 1 guy get paroled, came back, paroled again then came back again all within 2 years. Sex-offender by the way

See oreo-cookie story above.

Hushpuppy611 karma

Do people in jail and prison treat each other certain ways based on individuals offenses? For example, I heard that statutory rapists are treated poorly by their fellow inmates.

novaguy2819 karma

Depends. Most times if you do not mention what you are in for no one knows. Unless of course you have family look a person up on line and tell the inmate.

PatBabyParty9 karma

I may have a different experience than most but I spent 8 weeks in jail at the age of 19 for drug related offenses and it literally changed my life in so many amazing ways that I can honestly say I'd be dead without it. Do you feel like incarceration is the right answer for some people to get their shit together? Or do you still think that the American judicial system is far too tough on non-violent offenders?

novaguy2813 karma

I think that for non-violent offenders there are a lot of social programs that can point these people in the right direction. For me? I was a no good drug addict thief and deserved what I received. For violent offenders...Enjoy your stay in Prison. I am glad you turned your life around. All the best to you and your future!

blackplague17 karma

What's your take on prison as rehabilitation VS retribution? Does prison even pretend to be rehabilitative anymore? Can it/should it?

novaguy2814 karma

There are not very many programs in prison that help prepare an inmate for release. So I would say it is more for retribution. Let's face it though. If you are convicted and are guilty of a crime you deserve to server your punishment. That is why my wife and I started our sub. To try and offer resources to those that are out and have no guidance or support.