I spent 8 years in the Colorado State Penitentiary (http://amadmanspathtoreason.com/2013/07/11/lonely-prisoners/) and got out 14 months ago. Since then I have started a clothing line that sponsors UFC fighter Brandon "Rukus" Thatch http://rar-online.myshopify.com/,

breed some of the world's best presa canarios http://www.canarianbullkennel.com/,

published a poetry book http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F0YN9OK,

have a self-help blog http://amadmanspathtoreason.com/blog/ and am about to launch a website that has online classes teaching inner peace and inner greatness with an integrated social network.

I have been on the Huffington Post Live about solitary confinement http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/mental-illness-and-solitary-confinement-/5212624b78c90a63740006a9 and I just did a video for the ACLU about solitary confinement. My mission is to help people understand how the system puts them at risk by torturing prisoners then releasing them on an unsuspecting public like my friend Evan Ebel http://amadmanspathtoreason.com/2013/07/15/my-interview-with-news/ and then teach people the lessons I learned to find peace and happiness in solitary confinement.

I sent proof to ama verify but I'll also be posting on my twitter account about this. @ryanpettigrew3

Comments: 701 • Responses: 120  • Date: 

desixree63 karma

What did you do?

RyanPettigrew112 karma

I did a total of 12 years in prison for crimes related to drug dealing. This last time I received a 10 year sentence for intimidating witnesses in my brother's case trying to keep him out of prison. I went to solitary confinement for assaulting a rapist and being part of a prison gang.

awcook42 karma

What drugs did you deal?

RyanPettigrew91 karma

Meth, marijuana and coke.

Userincluded21 karma

Why did you get into it? You seem intelligent from many of your answers and activities after release. Did you not think about getting caught, or was there other factors keeping you involved? (or any other reasons)

RyanPettigrew54 karma

My parents thought I was just acting out when I just had Bipolar Disorder and threw me out of the house when I was 16. The only way I could make money was by selling drugs and I just got into it big time. It was all about survival at first but then I just wanted to be the best.

Kremox132 karma

You did it for yourself. You liked it. You were good at it. And you were really -- you were alive.

RyanPettigrew55 karma

After starting as a survival thing, I did start to enjoy it because I had money and respect. Now I hate that whole lifestyle.

fucktheocean26 karma

I'm guessing from the tone of your response that you didn't pick up on the breaking bad reference there.

RyanPettigrew71 karma

I've only seen a few of those shows. I really don't watch tv. Sorry

Balloonicorn3 karma

Just a heads up, he was referencing Breaking Bad

RyanPettigrew6 karma

Yeah, he just told me. I've only seen a few.

raging_skull18 karma

How did you intimidate the witnesses?

*Edit: Not "allegedly" I guess.

RyanPettigrew34 karma

My brother stabbed another drug dealer who tried to rob us and I told him to give a false story when he went to the hospital.

raging_skull15 karma

Did that dude that got stabbed narc on you guys?

RyanPettigrew36 karma

Yes then he went to prison later for continuing a life as a drug dealer.

2megs52 karma

educate me please; when you're in solitary (is it referred to as the cooler?) do you only interact with the guards? If you're in solitary you take your meals in your cell? Do the guards ever screw with your food or try to make you think they have? The two book and subscription rule...how often do you get to exchange books? Thanks for the insight my friend and all the best to you and yours

RyanPettigrew61 karma

We call solitary "the box" but I'm sure different states have different nicknames. The only time we're touched is when guards cuff us to take us to the shower or rec room but we can talk to other inmates through the door, vents and toilet. Guards always screwed with our food and everything else. We got our trays through a tray slot in the door. They wouldn't let us change out books.

Userincluded26 karma

Could you elaborate on how the guards screwed with stuff?

RyanPettigrew76 karma

They would poke our food with their fingers or spit in it. They would refuse us toilet paper for 12 hours. They put our water on 30 minute timers so we could only flush, wash and drink water every 30 minutes. ETC, ETC

GenocidalPiglet10 karma

Did you feel that this was unfair, or just part of it?

RyanPettigrew113 karma

I've pretty much gotten over thinking life should be fair on any level; it's really just part of it. They think we're sub-human and poke us with a stick until we snap then they use that as justification to keep us in there and to get public support. We hate them with a passion but the best revenge comes with success and helping others because then I'm not the monster they label me as. They tried to break me but now I'm helping others.

Itza42025 karma

Good for you! Your attitude is pretty amazing considering the circumstances.

RyanPettigrew17 karma


2megs23 karma

oh man! eight years with only two books? THAT is truly cruel. I don't know that I'd have the ability to go through that without it really having a negative affect on me to the point of causing mental damage. If you went through that, and I don't doubt you did, you've gotta have some serious mental discipline,...personally I have always strived for and not founf what I refer to as mental peace

RyanPettigrew49 karma

I could still get books from their library.

Mental peace comes from acceptance of self.

BigBuckBunnyB40 karma

I just wanted to pop in and say thanks for taking the time and doing such a great AMA. Best of luck in all your business ventures and endeavors!

RyanPettigrew17 karma


desixree35 karma

Is jail like the movies show us or is it way less... rough? Or worse. I'm not sure if you ever watched Oz(it was a prison show) but that's pretty much how prison is in my mind.

RyanPettigrew60 karma

There's states where it can get really violent and even in Colorado, people get murdered every few months throughout the system. The only prison movies that I've seen which are realistic regarding culture are American Me and Animal Factory. What I mean by that is how they capture the culture more than the others. It's easy to stay out of violent situations if you abide by the convict code but that code isn't properly described by people who don't get it.

StandardDeviation77 karma


RyanPettigrew62 karma

The code is all about respect, being known as someone who can't be picked on while also not being a bully. In prison, people are stacked on top of each other so to keep the peace, everyone goes far out of their way to be courteous so that problems don't happen much. The entire culture of prison is racial separation. Also, the code is all about not doing anything to create suspicion such as when violence happens in front of you, don't watch it or when you talk to a guard, have a witness their with you

perezidentt23 karma

I'm part white and part hispanic, how would I go about fitting in racially? Especially since I don't identify with any race in particular.

RyanPettigrew36 karma

You could either run with the whites or the chicanos.

perezidentt23 karma

What happens if you choose not to run with anyone?

RyanPettigrew39 karma

Nothing as long as you live by the convict code

diegojones424 karma

Care to elaborate on the convict code?

Glad shit is finally coming together for you.

RyanPettigrew36 karma

The code is all about respect, being known as someone who can't be picked on while also not being a bully. In prison, people are stacked on top of each other so to keep the peace, everyone goes far out of their way to be courteous so that problems don't happen much. The entire culture of prison is racial separation. Also, the code is all about not doing anything to create suspicion such as when violence happens in front of you, don't watch it or when you talk to a guard, have a witness their with you

I made stupid choices and had to be punished. Now I'm making great choices so it's paying off.

diegojones419 karma

Thanks. Your last sentence is awesome! Well done.

RyanPettigrew13 karma


s_mw33 karma

What was the first thing you did after you were out of prison?

RyanPettigrew67 karma

My mom and brother took me to Village Inn the to the mall to buy clothing. It was very overwhelming but I told them to just rip the band-aid off. Then we went to my nephew's football game.

s_mw21 karma

Well good luck.

RyanPettigrew24 karma


slapstix16 karma

When my brother got out, the first thing he wanted was a hamburger. He said the food was the worst part of his stay.

RyanPettigrew38 karma

The food was the awful and now I have a bunch of food allergies that I believe was brought on by their horrible food.

slapstix12 karma

He said PB&Js were like currency in there. Haha

RyanPettigrew36 karma

We couldn't even get them very often in solitary. In fact, I went the first 5 years without lotion and I have eczema.

slapstix9 karma

Fuck man. Thats not right. Were they aware you had it?

RyanPettigrew6 karma

Of course they knew I had it. They told me to use butter.

meowitslucy30 karma

How did you deal with the loneliness?

RyanPettigrew50 karma

I kept my mind occupied with studies and then would exercise so I wouldn't dwell on the loneliness. That and you just adapt.

ShannonOh21 karma

Do you have access to the library in solitary?

RyanPettigrew41 karma

We could order books from the library out of a catalog.

LuigiWasRight24 karma

Do you believe the "justice" system works?

If not, what would you do to reform it?

RyanPettigrew130 karma

The system is so ineffective that it puts society in danger. Most people in prison began a life of crime at an early age. They spend the rest of their youth in prison but have never really been productive citizens nor worked a legit job. The prison system is set up to punish so harshly that people never want to come back, thinking that they'll choose to be legit. They aren't educated, they're put into a violent world and harassed by the guards then released angry and ignorant with $100. Once that money dries up and no one will hire them due to their crimina record, even those with the best intentions return to crime.

Here's my solution http://amadmanspathtoreason.com/2013/07/30/prison-recidivism-solution/

NFresh617 karma

What was the hardest part about your time at Colorado State Penitentiary?

RyanPettigrew28 karma

The first six months was horrible because the walls close in on you and you have panic attacks but then you adapt to it. After that, it was the constant fighting with the guards just to get toilet paper and other basic necessities. I kept my mind active so I didn't self-destruct like most do in there. I did go through a 24 hour period of torture though. The hardest part was getting out.

not_a_murder3R14 karma

Care to expound on the 24 hours of torture? For science.

RyanPettigrew38 karma

I was placed in a cold cell without clothing. The floor had urine and puke on it and shackles were placed on my bare ankles. It was so cold that I had to work out with the shackles on so they dug deep into my ankles, giving me scars. At one point I had to defecate and they refused to give me toilet paper or soap so I had feces on me and forced to eat two meals with my hands.

mathius12333 karma

How is that not considered cruel and unusual?

RyanPettigrew101 karma

Funny thing is that I sued over it and the judge ruled that it wasn't a long enough period of time to be in violation of the 8th amendment. My argument is that as an American, any torture is a constitutional violation.

TheAzureDragon17 karma

Any words of wisdom?

RyanPettigrew152 karma

Find your true self and embrace it fully. Learn to meditate, go to acupuncture and exercise. Never chase acceptance and know that you can't be anything other than who you are.

TheAzureDragon12 karma

If only I could upvote this some more If you don't mind me asking, what made you change your life for the better? Just being in solitary/jailed? Because I bet others can just have a type of resentment to society for shunning them in a way.

RyanPettigrew44 karma

I was fully involved in the lifestyle and the punishment was part of it so I accepted it. I changed because I met a woman and she didn't want me to return to crime. Eventually she betrayed me but I decided to continue in my progressive path because I found I could make more money legally and not have to do time or have it taken. Then I began to notice that no one was living according to the convict code and I refused to be a martyr for something that no longer existed. I wouldn't ever betray the life and turn snitch but I walked away from it all.

scubasue1 karma

Unless your true self is a psychopath (~1% of population): then learn to act normal.

RyanPettigrew1 karma


Gentlemad17 karma

What were you imprisoned for?(optional)

Did you since change you view on the reason?(optional)

How did you come to the idea of starting such different businesses?

RyanPettigrew30 karma

This last time I received a 10 year sentence for intimidating witnesses in my brother's case trying to keep him out of prison. Looking back, I lived a disgusting life because I was a drug addict living way below my potential.

My brother was had already built one of the best presa canario kennels in America and our clothing line but hadn't done much with it so I started marketing and that produced great results. Now I'm full partner. I studied real estate in prison and have flipped three contracts. I really don't have much time for it so I brought my parents in so they could have a great retirement. It's my way of making up for the past. But I'm most passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes and I feel like the best way for me to make up for the past is to teach people the lessons I learned while in solitary confinement regarding inner peace and individualism.

xzak15 karma

What kind of businesses do you own?

RyanPettigrew43 karma

I do real estate investing and brought my parents in to give them a good retirement. I breed presa canarios and have a clothing company we just launched. I'm also about to launch a website that has online classes teaching inner peace/greatness with an integrated social network

cosmonautsix9 karma

What kind of investing? Wholesaling? Fix and flip? Rentals? I'm a full time wholesaler/fix and flip guy, so just curious.

RyanPettigrew15 karma

I've wholesaled 3 properties but am going to flip the next one. Really, it's all about the buy and holds in the long run. I want to invest in rentals and discount notes with the money I earn through my businesses then completely hand the flipping over to my parents.

notsincetheinjury7 karma

Good on you. Best of luck.

RyanPettigrew7 karma


KiwiLicker15 karma

How did you manage to go into business coming out of prison (money saved or borrowed, people who supported you, other resources)?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What goals do you want to accomplish in time?

RyanPettigrew20 karma

I worked construction for a year and put my extra money into my businesses.

In five years I see myself only writing, speaking and teaching living abroad 3 months out of the year. I doubt I'll be married or have kids.

0hLaVache11 karma

I doubt I'll be married or have kids.


Thanks for the AMA, you are the man!

RyanPettigrew39 karma

I'm so focused on succeeding that kids would only slow me down and the type of woman I want, is very rare. I refuse to settle and I prefer being alone to being with someone who isn't what I want in full.

KiwiLicker11 karma

Props to that! Thanks for the speedy reply.

How many hours of work would you say you put in a week?

What do you like to do during free time?

RyanPettigrew22 karma

I work 12 to 15 hours per day 7 days per week but that's by choice. I don't really want a social life until I feel I earned it. In my free time, I lift weights and relax with family and friends. I watch Bronco games.

HoboOnTheCorner13 karma

I did a research project a few years back on solitary confinement. Most specifically in the California prison system. I argued that it was a form of torture and should be removed as a form of punishment. Further I argued that it led to higher recidivism rates and creates/amplifies mental health problems in prisoners. With that said I have a few questions for you..

Do you see solitary confinement as a form of torture? why? can you explain through personal experiences?

Edit: Another question: What do think is something that would be really easy to fix about the prison system, but would have a huge positive impact?

RyanPettigrew25 karma

Even someone free of mental illness has mental problems once released form solitary confinement that never totally leave. I used to be a very social person but now I'm almost a hermit. I have sever anxiety and anger issues that I work to manage and release in a healthy way but I'm not normal.

desixree13 karma

I'm sorry to ask this but I was always curious about it and I understand if you don't want to answer... About sex with other prisoners, do they really rape the others (like in movies again) or force them to do a BJ, things like that? Thank you for your answers :)

RyanPettigrew30 karma

For the most part, there's so many willing participants that no one rapes anyone. It happens very rarely and that's one of the things that outsiders mistake when making a prison movie. Most gangs are anti rape and anti homosexuality

RIPphonebattery15 karma

How are there so many willing participants if gangs are anti homosexuality?

RyanPettigrew17 karma

Gangs only make up 50 % of the population

raddaya8 karma

Do gangs do anything about that? If you're a gay man in prison, will you face a lot of discrimination(or much worse)?

RyanPettigrew10 karma

We all treated the gays cordially unless they were at one point part of the gang. There were some really honorable gay people in there who truly followed the convict code.

Vinnieswan12 karma

Is it hard to do business (ex. getting loans, establishing credibility with buyers/partners) given your past criminal history?

Glad to see you're adding value to society.

RyanPettigrew40 karma

I haven't had to get credit because I did construction full time and put my money into my business. People have been generally open minded regarding my past because they see first hand how well I'm doing out here but there are those who refuse to do business with me. I'm very open about my history and I'm happy to weed out those who are too self-righteous to do business with me because it reveals they're bad at business since they judge on things outside of my business value.

RobbyParliament11 karma

Thank you for opening up to us. It takes a lot of balls.

My question: As a 19 year old who is trying to get his life together (and who meditates for 10 minutes a day already) what would be the single most important aspect of my life that I would need to improve to be the best that I can be?

RyanPettigrew33 karma

Achieving true individuality and embracing your true self is the most important part. Inner chaos happens when we try to be what we think we're supposed to be and never can be. All we can be is ourselves

dahts-the-joke10 karma

Are you starting up businesses because no one would hire you?

RyanPettigrew25 karma

I learned the first two times I got out that no one will hire me so there's no point in getting a degree. If I wanted to become successful, I had to start my own business.

jamal108210 karma

Can you elaborate on "assaulting a rapist?" How did it go down? (He had it coming?)

RyanPettigrew19 karma

He tried to join our prison gang knowing that we don't accept rapists and that we do background checks. We found out he was a rapist and beat him up to the point that he had internal bleeding.

thtguy34059 karma

I read your ama and it intrigued me very much cause I was a correctional officer for Texas Department of Criminal justice and it seems that for the most part our system is completely the opposite from Colorado. We never abused or went out of our way to mistreat the offenders for the most part; but there are a few "rotten apples" if you will, that do try to mistreat or abuse the offenders. In TDCJ there are ways for offenders to grieve if they feel their rights had been violated. I found that as an officer I could establish a form of mutual respect with an offender while still being professional. Did yall have a grievance process like we do in Texas? Also did you find that you could trust and respect some of the officers there as well?

RyanPettigrew9 karma

We had a grievance procedure but they would deny everything. Even my buddy Evan Ebel was grieving his release straight from solitary without any adjustment period and they denied him. http://www.coloradoindependent.com/127596/clements-murder-suspect-ebel-was-anxious-about-walking-free-documents-show

The main harassment was done by the few bad apples but the majority treated us as sub-humans, justifying denying us our basic necessities. They would join in the main harassment when around the bad apples and try to act just around the few good apples.

I have a friend that I talked to today who was a guard at the prison I was at. If someone's a good person, I'll have respect for the no matter what they are in life. There were guards who I respected and they respected me but they were mainly old school type guards.

MCMXChris9 karma

Thanks for the ama. Couple of quick questions off the top of my head:

1) Did you "find" God in prison as many inmates do?

2) based on your experiences, what is the worst gang in Colorado?

3) do you believe Evan Ebel deserved to die for such a calculated attack on an innocent father and Head of corrections? He would have been sent to prison for life if arrested. Possibly sent to solitary which I agree is cruel/unusual.

RyanPettigrew12 karma

I'm atheist. I was part of the 211 Crew and they ran the prison for the whites. Them, the surenos, crips and GKI's were the largest gangs. All gangs had members who were killers and those who were fake.

Evan wanted to die, so I don't think really think of it in terms of whether it was deserving or not.

mikey4209 karma

how much do you sell puppies for?

RyanPettigrew14 karma

We have a litter right now that is being labelled the best presa canario litter in the world. We sell our runts for $2000, avg for $3000 and show quality all the way up to $4500.

brilala8 karma

What is your opinion on pet overpopulation? I understand those like yourself who breed less common types of dogs, but in general, do good breeders educate themselves on the industry as a whole? (Backyard breeding, spay/neuter regulations, etc)? My family ran a dog rescue (Great Pyrenees) for several years and the quantity of dogs that are euthanized every day let alone year is troubling to say the least. What can responsible breeders do to alleviate this issue?

RyanPettigrew8 karma

Excellent question. We despise backyard breeders and puppy mills because they create inbalanced and low quality dogs then basically torture the dog. We only associate with ethical dog breeders who are dog lovers first. For us, it's not about the profits, although the profits are nice, it's about us creating a beautiful animal and putting them in a home that they will be loved. Very few people will spend the money for a quality dog just to treat them bad. Dog over population is an issue but the people who buy our dogs, won't get one from the pound because they're all about the quality. Ethical breeders can't control the issue but they can raise awareness about unethical breeders so that people can make informed decisions. If no one bought from unethical breeders, they'd go out of business. We hate that people put all breeders in one category ignorantly and talk bad about the minority with ethics. Vets are the worst at this but still take our money. Imagine that. If everyone taught about the difference, then we could cut off the money supply to the unethical.

Redditforresearch9 karma

How has your meditation practice changed since being released? What was your practice like while in prison? What is the most valuable thing you learned regarding meditation?

RyanPettigrew19 karma

I still meditate daily like I did in there but now I'm working more on opening my pineal gland type meditations rather than just relaxation. The most valuable thing I learned about it is just doing it daily. I don't know how I used to function without it.

PounderMcNasty8 karma

How many AMAs have you done?

RyanPettigrew14 karma

Quite a few so I can educate more people on the solitary confinement issue. Every time I reach many new people so I find it worth it.

nom_yourmom8 karma

Is your business called Caged Wisdom by any chance?

RyanPettigrew9 karma

No. I own Madman's Path to Reason, Madman University, Madman Mastermind Network, Canario Inc. Canarian Bull Kennel, Ironclad Wholesaler LLC and Sirens Marketing LLC

thegreatestgeese8 karma

What made you decide you wanted to help people through finding their inner peace?

RyanPettigrew14 karma

If i didn't figure out inner peace, I would've self-destructed in prison. This is something that I really mastered and then simplified so I could teach it. It's a way of showing I'm not the monster I have been portrayed as but I really like helping people.

DrKurtCuddlesDDS6 karma


RyanPettigrew12 karma

I was a complete idiot when I went to prison; emotionally unstable and impulsive. I was a nut job. I learned inner peace while in solitary for survival.

ShannonOh1 karma

Did you tech it to others while in prison?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

I tried and some listened but it was rarely applied.

tuna-sandwich7 karma

What did you have access to as far as books, magazines, etc?

RyanPettigrew11 karma

We could have 2 books and 2 magazine subscriptions so I made sure they were educational. We also could order books from a library so I read a lot of books related to philosophy, psychology, business and real estate investing.

intothinsauce6 karma

could you elaborate on the convict code or is like a fight club thing?

RyanPettigrew5 karma

The code is all about respect, being known as someone who can't be picked on while also not being a bully. In prison, people are stacked on top of each other so to keep the peace, everyone goes far out of their way to be courteous so that problems don't happen much. The entire culture of prison is racial separation. Also, the code is all about not doing anything to create suspicion such as when violence happens in front of you, don't watch it or when you talk to a guard, have a witness their with you

eazy_jeezy6 karma

Former CO here. Just wanted to say that I feel really awful for your situation, but happy you could turn it around and do something productive with your life after that travesty. I want you specifically to know that one of the primary factors in my decision to quit my 5+ year career was learning of the Stanford Prison Experiment and seeing similar behavior changes in my own co-workers over time. The deliberate indifference has literally killed several inmates in my state. I told myself when I quit that it was a moral decision that had to be made in spite of the current job market, and sure enough I am jobless and down to my last couple months of savings. My co-workers said I'd be back. I told them that the day they saw me set foot in that prison, they should put me on a suicide watch, because the only reason I'd go back is to blow my brains out for my supervisors to find. Dead serious. (It doesn't help that I've actually been suicidal.)

Anyway, long rant, but it's a humble apology to you from me and a few good officers, because there are a few out there, and I hope you know that. No question, but I wish you the best of luck and I'm so happy for your success!

RyanPettigrew3 karma

So you saw it first hand and was moral enough of a person to not go with the flow. You're a very good person because it's easy to get lost in the crowd. I have a very good friend who was a guard while I was in there and I know that there are some good ones but they never stay long enough.

friedjumboshrimp6 karma

On the East Coast there is a prison saying "If you're near enough I am queer enough", was that the same in Colorado, did you partake?

RyanPettigrew6 karma

Homosexuality happens all the time in prison but it's against the rules for white prison gangs. I had no urges to partake because I can control my sexual urges and I would've gotten stabbed for doing it any way.

Woflen4 karma

Why were you know in solitary for so long? How long was the longest concurrent period you spent in solitary? Is there any human contact during this time? Do you have access to books or television or anything else?

What effects have you seen solitary had on other inmates? Has it helped with behaviour? Or is it overused just to get rid of a troublesome person?

RyanPettigrew15 karma

I was in there for so long for refusing to tell on people, then being a gang member and for defending myself during an altercation when I was working my way out. I did a 5 year solitary stretch with a short break and then 3 years.

The psychological effects are anxiety, OCD, complete mental breakdowns, paranoia, hallucinations and/or decrease in social skills.

It doesn't help anyone, it only makes them worse and was very overused. They say it's only for the worst of the worst but most of the people in there were mentally ill or petty rule breakers.

BigTerrible4 karma


RyanPettigrew7 karma

We had a tv and could get calendars so I always knew what time it was. It was definitely a sensory deprivation type environment. I had a window but there were times that the window was right outside a brick wall so I couldn't see anything.

Joobeejoo474 karma

First off, you're very intelligent it seems on the subject of inner peace; through personal experience. Would you mind describing your mental journey and the road you took to what you are now?

Also, what's your view on religion or how has it helped you, if at all?

RyanPettigrew13 karma

I was very emotionally unstable and impulsive. I started to hate that person but wanted to just be a better criminal. Thinking that the answer was in being the exact opposite of who I was, I became obsessed with self-discipline to the point that I drove myself crazy. I was depriving myself of needs. I became very idealistic and started trying to become something that wasn't me, thinking that it was the way to be. Then it hit me, I needed to figure out who I was and be the best I could mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I'm atheist, religion was part of chasing ideals that I could never be.

TalksLikeAGentleman4 karma

What do you wish you'd known about prison life before going to jail?
What was the biggest shock when you came out?

RyanPettigrew11 karma

I wish I know that it was all bullshit, that few people lived according to the rules they claim to live by. If I would've known that, I would've retired then. The biggest shock was just normal life, mostly being around people.

canyoucme4 karma

Have you ever thought about negative thoughts again, or felt like just going back to what you did before, but just being more careful by not getting caught?

What do you think of other convicts that are in there that has much worse sentence than you had? Do you think there are a few others that deserved to be released from prison?

RyanPettigrew11 karma

I was tempted while I struggled financially since I know of easy ways to make money but resisted the urges. It paid off and now the urges are gone since I'm succeeding the right way.

Most people in prison eventually get released and there's some people serving ridiculously long sentences for non-violent crimes. With the way that the system is set up, most will go back to prison after release because we're creatures of habit and haven't been taught to do it the right way.

friedjumboshrimp3 karma

What is your view on dog fighting for sport?

RyanPettigrew23 karma

I hate dog fighting.

heyscubby3 karma

Did you find you developed sensory issues? Does touch, certain fabic, sounds, smells now affect you? Are some things more attractive? IF there were sensory issues, have they changed over time?

RyanPettigrew10 karma

When I first got out of solitary, I had sensory overload. My sense of smell was so intense that I would get nauseous. Things would be so beautiful that I would get all emotional and I was super paranoid. I had adapted to misery and didn't know how to accept positive things so I'd break down crying for the smallest good things.

getSmoke3 karma

Hey, first of all I want to thank you for really taking the time and having the patience to go out of your way to tell your story. Were there a lot of other inmates that came out with the same mindset as you? Did you choose solitary confinement or were you put there? Do you consider yourself more spiritual after your experience, in the sense of knowing yourself and understanding your reality?

RyanPettigrew4 karma

Very few inmates come out like I did unfortunately. Some of them try but don't know what to do and aren't taught so they resort to what they know. I was placed in solitary for assaulting a rapist. I'm definitely more spiritual but also atheist. I'm very much into universal energy and the laws of the Universe.

Jobiwan11133 karma

After reading this, I was wondering? Can I send books or Magazines to people in solitary? Would that have helped you at all? What is the best thing to send?

RyanPettigrew7 karma

Every prison has different rules pertaining to that but most will probably let you through a publisher. I'm a firm believer in helping people educate themselves but don't just give for entertainment purposes.

homme_grenouille3 karma

What's the first day of prison like? Do you have to join a gang or group right away, or prove yourself somehow?

Edit: added a thought

RyanPettigrew10 karma

You're transferred around to temporary prisons for the first month or two and no one really pays much attention to the new guys there. Once you arrive to your permanent yard, the members of your race will check your paperwork to make sure you're not a sex offender or child abuser. You're pretty much just watched to see how you act.

idontcarejustletme2 karma

How do prisoners get access to the paperwork? I always assumed guards just leaked the fact that a guy is a pedo.

RyanPettigrew6 karma

Actually, the guards protect the rapists and child molestors since they usually are snitches too. Everyone is given paperwork when sentenced and the clean ones bring it with them to prove they're ok.

idontcarejustletme2 karma

Interesting, thank you and good luck!

RyanPettigrew3 karma


Curtis1873 karma

Most notorious inmate?

RyanPettigrew10 karma

Marvin Gray was over 300 plus pounds and would get the biggest guy in a facility to work out with him then rape him. I was in solitary with him but wouldn't talk to him because he was a rapist.

PuntOnFifth3 karma

Do you think assaulting the rapist assisted or hindered his rehabilitation process in prison, and why?

RyanPettigrew11 karma

On one hand, I believe that it'll make him think a little more about the consequences should he re-offend but being beaten isn't rehabilitation for anyone.

JustinKrump3 karma

What was the most interesting thing you ever saw made into a shank?

RyanPettigrew12 karma

We really didn't have to get too creative since in general population we had access to metals and a machine shop. There's really no need for them in solitary but my friend did slit a guards throat after picking locks with a pick he made and a razor.

Nuisancho6 karma


RyanPettigrew24 karma

That's just part of prison. Guards torture people mentally and physically until they've had enough. He had enough and made an example. People know not to poke dogs with a stick...

MCMXChris3 karma

Holy shit. Did he kill the guard?

RyanPettigrew7 karma


fuckintrolls3 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA first of all.

Solitary confinement (in fact almost the entire US prison system), is punishment based. I have written several papers on solitary confinement and the US prison system in general, so I was wondering if you thought (as a person with first-hand experience) if the punishment model works in any way as a deterrent to crime?

How did a system based on punishment effect you and your other inmates in ways of thinking, acting, violent outbursts, etc.? Did it make violence more common, was there any reward system for good behavior?

Were there opportunities to be released from solitary and did you take them and get sent back or were you never offered the choice?

Poland (I'm pretty sure) moved to the rehabilitation model in the late 80's early 90's, since then they have seen a marked decrease in multiple offenders and crime in general. Do you believe that rehabilitation, such as job training, anger management, social skills, and so on would have a positive impact in American prisons and do you think this is something that could be easily implemented with the current prison population?

RyanPettigrew7 karma

I agree with everything you said. Most people become criminals as kids and don't know how to be productive citizens or earn lawfully. They go to prison and are in a violent world where guards treat them as sub-human. They're denied education and vocational training then released ignorant and angry with $100 back to the ghetto or a homeless shelter. No one will hire them and they go right back to crime when that $100 is gone.

Here's my solution and it's completely doable. http://amadmanspathtoreason.com/2013/07/30/prison-recidivism-solution/

friedjumboshrimp2 karma

Best prison meal?

RyanPettigrew22 karma


jakethemuss2 karma

Cool AMA! Can you speak on your meditation techniques? What you do, how you learned?

RyanPettigrew11 karma

I sit in half lotus or in a straight backed chair and breath normally, making sure I'm breathing with my stomach. I force myself to stop thinking until no thoughts come into my head. Now I'm working on more complicated techniques focusing my chi.

softwareguy742 karma

Mad props for doing something productive with your life after getting out. Best of luck to you bud. And sorry to hear about the torture you endured. What a shame to hear that happened in my homeland.

RyanPettigrew3 karma

Thanks. And that's why I bring attention to it, so people aren't released ready to act out.

ashsooi2 karma

Great AMA, could you perhaps describe to us the room you were confined in?

RyanPettigrew3 karma

I can do better. There's a Nat Geo video of the prison I was in and it shows you the rooms. http://amadmanspathtoreason.com/2013/07/11/lonely-prisoners/

DrinksWellWithOthers2 karma

I think I'm late but, is there a difference between solitary (i.e. loneliness) and confinement? For example, if you were in a spacious mansion but not allowed to interact with anyone, or in space by yourself but not likely to have any real human contact, would that be ok or is it more about the confinement that you're in and there is a world outside you can't access.

RyanPettigrew5 karma

Two human needs are human contact and sunlight so if you lock yourself in a mansion, you'll develop social issues and neurosis from thinking too much. If you deny yourself sunlight, you'll develop more issues. I'm sure the fact that I was confined made it worse but both can cause serious problems.

DrinksWellWithOthers2 karma

I've always thought I could hold up in solitary, but I'd need some things like magazines, TV, or other activities. I don't have a problem with missing human contact for days on end, nor sunlight. I've spent time at home without human contact, as long as I have internet and CATV I'm fine. Then, I was once incarcerated in a solitary holding cell for 24 hours. I did the walk from the bed to the door and back, as in the video you posted. I was out of my mind that I couldn't walk further than about 5-6 feet and I was not connected with all the people out there. I would constantly try to look at the clock outside my cell and count the minutes, then the seconds. 'When was I going to get out of here?' I didn't need social contact, I needed space and the freedom to wander it, and something to do besides notice I was in a cage relative to others.

Your response sounds philosophical. I was wondering what your personal experience was.

RyanPettigrew3 karma

For me, I was forced to face all the demons that I had tried to ignore through drug use. It was intense. The first 6 months in there was tough because it felt like the walls were closing in and I would have panic attacks. Then I adjusted and really developed some issues. http://amadmanspathtoreason.com/2013/07/11/my-time-in-solitary-confinement/

cuddlerapew2 karma

What are your thoughts on legalizing drugs? What's you advice on rehab/detox/relapsing?

RyanPettigrew5 karma

I don't think it's the government's place to tell people what they should put in their bodies, especially when the gov't is involved in the drug business.

I'm anti addiction but believe it's an individual's choice. If you're an addict, you can't achieve your highest potential so it's horrible. If someone wants rehab then they can overcome the addiction. I was addicted to heroin and meth but don't crave them at all now.

namkash2 karma

You are the living example for many people, thank you so much. My questions:

In your experience, what would you do to change people's minds (specially youngs) before commiting illegal activities? Murder, drug dealing, rapes, assaults.

After that experience, your meditation, many activities to do after jail, how do you feel today?

RyanPettigrew4 karma

I was actually putting together a program for troubled youths. The problem here is glorification of the criminal lifestyle and I show them how it's a facade. Then I show them the answer isn't in "selling out" but rather just being themselves and the best they can be.

I'm feeling great. The acupuncture is releasing some repressed anger but I'm doing so much better.

Sledgehammer90901 karma

After spending that long in prison and being deprived of social interaction, do you feel the system has re-socialized you?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

What do you mean by re-socialized?

fw190d1 karma

I studied real estate in prison and have flipped three contracts.

Can you tell us your opinion of how to start looking into real estate, as someone who can only spell the words, to help become someone that can flip three houses after coming of out prison?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

I would start by joining the local Real Estate Investment Association and taking all of their classes because their experts will teach you how to do it locally. Every place is different and there is no one way to do it. Don't spend a lot of money going to the seminars either because it's very cheap the way I told you with better information.

Hkygoalie341 karma

I was actually wondering. How often do be get ass railed in prison? Is this a common occurrence? Have you ever experience it, and if so did you like it? How big was it and how hard did he run train on you?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

Rape rarely happens, quit watching so many movies.

vaskemaskine1 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA :)

My question for you is: Looking back on it now, do you feel the sentence you got was justified for what you did? Did you think that at the time of sentencing?

RyanPettigrew2 karma

The sentence was way too long for what I got caught for but too short for all I've done. I just wanted to get back to prison when I got sentenced since I was only out three months. I pretty much gave up on freedom.

Wholegrainmaterial1 karma

Did you ever find yourself reading "Solitary Fitness" by Michael Gordon Peterson (aka Charles Bronson)?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

Never even heard of it but I did see the movie about him.

Tsplodey1 karma

Always enjoy reading your AMAs when I see them pop up. I'm not a particularly sociable person but doing something like solitary confinement would probably drive me insane.

RyanPettigrew1 karma

It gives you too much time to think and you begin to obsess and are forced to face your demons.

edlaz1 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA! I think it is easy to get caught up in the things happening around you, especially in prison. I'd like to ask how do you deal with your inner emotions (fear, hate, anger, helplessness, etc) and external provocations while in prison.

Once again, thank you for doing this AMA and I wish you all the best.

RyanPettigrew1 karma

I had to do a lot of exercise and meditation but that wasn't even good enough. I just learned how much repressed anger I had during my acupuncture sessions.

bearsfan6541 karma

Not sure if this was answered already... but what was your reaction to how the world changed when you got out, in terms of electronics, politics, economy, etc.?

RyanPettigrew4 karma

When I went to prison this time, no one even text messaged each other and the newest technology was the DVD burner. Everyone would make fun of me because I was so far behind, even my parole officer, but it's all in fun. I was completely lost, even needing to learn how to use debit cards. Now I'm building our websites.

leebekben1 karma

Ryan, you mentioned that prisoners will check paperwork of new inmates to see if they are rapist etc..how do they check paperwork?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

Each of us had court paper work that said what we were in prison for. If you were clean, you'd be happy to show it. If not, you'd refuse and be ostracized.

lightstorm331 karma

Did you ever get raped, saw someone get raped, or rape someone else in prison? And is rape really as prevalent as the movies portray it as and if not how prevalent was it?

RyanPettigrew1 karma

No to all those questions. Rape happens very rarely in Colorado since there's so many willing participants and the gangs are anti rape.

591791 karma

In solitary confinement, do you get TV and/or books? I could handle that.

RyanPettigrew1 karma

You get both but it's not about being able to handle it, it's about adjusting to freedom afterward. I've seen some strong minded people break in there and many kill themselves but once I adjusted, it wasn't so bad. My issues were revealed when I went home.

iamtylerdurdenman1 karma

I am really interested to know the mentality of prisoner in terms of time. Did you ever though that, damn the world is moving and I am locked up in here? I am wasting precious time of my life in here?

RyanPettigrew3 karma

I would think that all the time and the loss of time fuels my work addiction now. I'm trying to catch up.

Thatguyoverth3re1 karma

Sorry didn't see you already answered this question

RyanPettigrew1 karma

That's ok

Jeygasm0 karma

I have a question, but I feel as though you did this only a few months ago? Please correct me if im wrong, just that if its the same then I know its already been aksed and in which case.. you should ignore this I guess.

RyanPettigrew1 karma

I got out 14 months ago

ConservativeRebel-6 karma

What is your opinion on B. Hussein Obama?

RyanPettigrew-1 karma

He's a socialist. I'm a Libertarian so I can't stand him.

RyanPettigrew1 karma

I'm an Objectivist who says "Libertarian" just to state my position for people who don't know what I'm speaking of. I'm well aware that "Libertarian" is more of an umbrella term but socialism is contrary to libertarian and objectivist philosophy. Socialism violates property rights, which isn't about liberty.