Deeper than just a prison hustle…

So survival week went a little into this week. But that’s okay. I feel like the topic was well covered and hopefully I provided you with a lot of insight into just what it’s like to try and do something for some sort of financial gain while incarcerated. As I wrap this up, there is still one last part I want to tell you all about… How some here in prison “myself majorly included” try to really make it from such a negative environment.

This is survival at its finest.

The guys who are incarcerated yet still trying or maybe even trying for once to turn their lives for better.

Through something…

Anything.

But this can also be a double edge sword which I’ll explain more about in a bit.

First, though. There are prisoners who finally do reach a point where it is time to start working towards a better life for their self. This could be as simple as forming a plan and converting that plan to paper… something like I’m going to go home and get a job doing “X” making “Y” and paying “Z” towards getting myself back on track.

This is actually a great idea and everyone in a position such as this should do something along these lines.

Preparation is key to survival especially after released.

Still, there are other prisoners who do much more than just simply forming a plan on paper. They come up with something they can work towards while incarcerated.

Maybe it’s writing a book. Something a lot of prisoners attempt.

Or maybe it is some sort of business venture.

Maybe art or music…

Whatever it is, the prisoners who pursue things along these lines can find great motivation from just the thought of whatever it is they are working on to actually succeeding.

I certainly have myself. I have also pursued many different ventures throughout the close to 6 years I have been incarcerated.

I have seen a lot of things not pan out too. Which brings me to the double edge sword thing.

First of all, let me clarify one thing. In order to even attempt to find any sort of success from prison while in prison… You must first be willing to put in more work and effort that you probably have towards anything in your entire life before. You must also be willing to accept more rejection or defeat than you ever have before just the same.

The point of trying to be a success here in prison is ultimately to have that success carry over once you are released. But what a person in my shoes must be careful of most is putting all their eggs in one of these pipe dream type baskets, and then getting out of all these wild ideas of being successful and being faced with the possibility of that not being a reality.

If all we plan for is this one thing to be our ticket to the big time… Our ticket out of this revolving door style ride that is us being trapped in and lost to the system- and that one thing doesn’t work out as we planned, then we are so susceptible to falling right back into all the bullshit that might have originally landed us in prison in the first place.  

That is why guys in my position and me as well must have a backup plan for a backup plan.

Personally, I have like 10 backup plans. Others should as well if they really plan to “make it” after prison.

Take into account a good friend of mine who was just recently released from prison, a fellow mural painter… My good friend Justin Young. Not only is Justin a phenomenal artist who is attempting to find success through his work, he is also now an author who just had his book released Move Dat Doe.

Congratulations by the way Justin!

With no misconception with just how hard it is to find success after prison, Justin is also working a legitimate job. All of this kind of rings in that whole “willing to put in more work and effort than you probably have in your entire life” thing again, doesn’t it?

I mean, who has to work harder than the guy incarcerate who not only wants to find better for himself he wants to find the best for himself?

The guy who works harder towards that while even locked up.

The guy who accepts all the hurtles and road blocks along the way.

All the rejection one is sure to face along the way in a situation such as this.

That is why, to me, survival in prison is deeper than just some hustle while incarcerated.

Survival is all the preparation and planning and all the long hours that in all reality may not ever amount to anything.

Yet still trying.

Joewriteshiswrongs… With this ever amount to anything fruitful?

Yet still I try.

My cartoons, caricature, paintings… the same thing.

Survival for me is hope…

“Hope” for something.

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Making candy in prison…

Thanks to everyone who took part in the poll I had posted.

Making candy is quite the hustle to have. First of all, there are many different kinds of candy guys in here make.

There is peanut brittle.

Taffy.

Suckers.

All sorts of different stuff.

All of this can be profitable to invest in while incarcerated, but only if done on a large scale.

This one guy who I know in here who we will call candy man, he makes tons of candy.

A large scale candy operation usually yields like 100-200 pieces of candy every two or three days. And at .30 a piece of candy it is easy to see how making candy, especially at this level can be worth the effort.

100 pieces of candy equals 30 dollars.

200 pieces for 60 dollars.

Do either of these twice a week and by being the thing… you got yourself a bonafid prison hustle.

Candy man always has the goods too. Which is great for a candy junkie like myself.

An important aspect to being a candy man is always having product on hand. If you don’t, your clientele could get mad. Then exchanges like the one I have with candy man could take place every once in awhile.

“Hey candy man, what do you have for me today?”

“Sorry, Joe I just ran out of candy.”

“It’s okay. I might say.” “Go fuck yourself!”

Yes the plight of a candy man isn’t always easy.

It’s a buyer’s market and the name of the game is satisfying your customers.

But customers aren’t the only people here who can give you a hard time. As with most every prison hustle, your biggest worries are the “people”.

You know, the janks.

The cops. Or wannabe cops that is.

By the way, Guards have a 100 different things they are called here.

Yes the guards can put a damper in any prison hustle, especially making candy. I seen the candy man get busted a couple of different times, losing a single batch or even his entire stash.

That is a hell of a blow to take, especially when the candy you sell is your biggest source of income. Or even your only source of income for that matter.

Making candy is low risk in the grand scheme of things. That’s probably why it is such a popular adventure to explore. But with the good comes a little bad…

Everyone knows that making candy is low risk, and it can be high yield in a profit aspect. That means there is competition everywhere.

How do you beat the competition everywhere?

Two ways.

One you make more candy than everyone else and you keep candy on hand especially when your competitors have none.

And two you start a little rumor. Something like “Dude don’t buy any more candy from Dave. I caught him picking his toe nails while he was making his last batch.”

5 things you need to know in order have a successful prison hustle

  1. Watch for the haters… this is by far the biggest thing you must be aware of when trying to run a successful prison hustle. And for two reasons… one a hater could very well tell on you for whatever reason whether jealousy or envy. And two a hater could set you up to be robbed for the same reason. Haters are cancerous to anything they come in contact with.
  2. Do not “ass bet”…ass bet in prison refers to not having and knowing you do not have the money needed to cover whatever it is you are putting out there. For example in order to run a successful gambling ticket, people need to know that if they win they will be paid quickly and without problem. Whoever is running a gambling ticket should have at least 300-400 dollars on hand in case of multiple winners, or a couple of different big winners who hit at one time. If that money is not there to cover those winnings then you are “ass betting” your credibility and good name will not be worth anything. If ever you are figured as someone who ass bets, then you can bet your ass it will be hard as hell for you to have any other sort of prison hustle.
  3. Avoid the bad money… Again bad money individuals are guys who don’t have money to pay for shit. (See top 5 reasons you suck in prison) Bad money sounds sort of like ass betting doesn’t it? Well the bad money guys are more so the customer aspects where as the ass betters are more like the retailers. No prison hustle can survive without faithful paying customers. And something that can cripple a hustle or put a major dent in one is doing business with “bad money”. Take a store box for example, a store box loans shit out all day long on credit and good faith and commissary items will be repaid with tax but all the time you will see guys coming up talking about why they don’t have what they owe. Bad money causes problems and headaches that nobody wants.
  4. Keep it on the low… Whatever it is that you do as a hustle while incarcerated, the less people who know about it the better. Some hustles are more needed to be “kept on the low” than others. Gambling tickets and tattooing are a great example of hustles that should be kept on the low. Whereas washing dishes, laundry and candy, they don’t really need to be kept as low. Well unless in front of a guards face… all hustles must be kept on the low in that regard.
  5. Pay attention to everything and everyone…(especially those who are paying way to much attention to you…) The last thing you ever want is to be caught off guard or in the proverbial sense, “holding the loaded gun.” Random shake downs of your property can really shake things up for your hustle. Then again, random property searches are hardly ever random. Most come due to the wrong person seeing or getting wind of you and what you’re doing. That is why keeping it on the low and watching for the haters is so important. But even doing those two things you still have to pay attention. Part of paying attention also entails keeping the shit that can get you in trouble away from you. If you tattoo that means keeping your supplies somewhere else, gambling tickets are the same thing. Never shit where you sleep in a sense. If you’re fortunate enough to have a hustle that really thrives, never get to full of yourself. Big headedness and walking around with this holier than thou air about yourself will always ultimately be your greatest undoing. Why? Because you are certain to lose focus about what is going on around you. You become too concerned about making sure people see you “on top” and if ever you get that far off course then you’re bound to fail because you definitely are not paying attention.

Prison Hustle Poll

If you were in prison with no outside support from friends or family and you had to find a way to make it in here and survive… What would you consider trying to do as a prison hustle?

Are you a shark or are you shark food

Trying to survive in prison isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Some guys fair a LOT better than others; some guys come to prison and become victims in one sense or another.

Did you read “Prison rape and candy bars”…. An older post here on Joewriteshiswrongs.

Well, that’s some real shit.

A fact of life in prison.

You either sink or swim.

You’re either a shark in these waters or you’re shark food.

It’s crazy to see how two guys can have it so different while incarcerated. One guy can quickly reach the top of the food chain while another can just as quickly sink to the bottom of it.

In the middle, resides mostly the rest of the prison population.

Some guys who come to prison just aren’t safe here. And the ones who can’t or won’t fend for themselves have it the worst.

They get extorted.

Usually by a gang.

These helpless pitiful prisoners are forced to pay a fee, sometimes weekly for full protection.

I’ll never forget the first prison I went to during this incarceration. It was a hard place, especially as a white guy. I say that because it seemed like white guys always have it the hardest.

Truth be told, a lot of other races consider them soft in prison.

Well, when I got to the prison, we all pilled out of the crammed van that we had been transported in, and as we did, the guards said “today is your lucky day”.

“This institution is just coming off of a month long lockdown due to a gang riot” the guard continued.

“Holy shit” I thought. “This is going to be fun…”.

It didn’t take long before I started hearing the horror stories. I heard about all sorts of crazy shit that was going on at this prison. One story involved a prisoner in the same cell block I was housed in, who just prior to my arrival had had an altercation with a guy and that guy had beat him so bad with a rock that his eye was damn near hanging out of his head.

Oh and guess what…? That guy was a white guy too.

I think it was two things that made my stay at that prison not as bad as others that I had saw.

1… I had no money. So I was useless to anyone who might have considered trying to extort me.

2… I was the tattoo guy. That in itself made me somewhat good to keep around. And keep me around they did.

One day this high ranking gang member came up to me and said “You do tattoos…? Cool. We need someone tattooing in here.”

“Do some free work for me and you can set up shop here. We will let you tattoo and make your money. But these other guys… They’re paying to live here. So don’t get in the way of that.”

Sounded fair enough to me.

Every once in awhile I would see a new guy move in acting like he was a tough guy. But it was the ones who acted the toughest who always got it the worst.

I would even try to warn these guys like “hey, if you got money, do not go to commissary because these guys are going to get you”.

And of course the response I got was always the same…

“I’m not worried about them. Don’t no man put fear in my heart.”

Yeah, well…

Six guys and a knife can drive a real hard bargain.

These tough guys would come in with what I like to call “Christmas bags”. Commissary bags over stuffed. While the vultures would just lie and wait, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike.

And strike they would…taking everything they could from these tough guys.

What’s funny about this is after something like that happen, I imagined it’s got to be hard to say face or even show your face again. So I was never surprised when the day after a robbery these “tough guy big numbers” would be sitting around reading the bible.

Guess an event like that can bring about a real calling on the lord.

But that didn’t concern me.

What did?

Figuring that that tattoo work I had discussed doing for that guy who had just been victimized…

That was probably out the window now.

Top 10 prison hustles 5-1…

Number 5 drawing… Artist always do well in prison. Plus there is minimal risk for this hustle. People always want something drawn for their girl or their mom or their kids… there is always money to be made with art on the inside. But guess who doesn’t benefit? The guy who can’t draw of course!

Number 4 hustling out of the kitchen… “Stealing” is such a strong word in prison we tend to refer to it as hustling. And this ranks pretty high on the list because I have seen quite a few prisoners live high on the hog with this hustle. The only problem with this hustle is that you will always get caught. Greed will always eventually over take reason and the next thing you know you got 30 onions strapped to your legs while you’re walking out of the kitchen looking like you have 30 onions strapped to your legs.

Number 3 tattoos… Probably one of the riskiest hustles there is because tattoo guys ALWAYS get caught. It’s never a matter of getting caught but when. Without fail if you tattoo, you will get caught. It always happens but if somehow you can manage to survive and have a good little run- and you tattoo well that is, you can stack up quite a bit of money or commissary.

Number 2 running a store box… a store box is somewhere a prisoner can go to borrow commissary items they need or want until they themselves are able to go to the store again. A store box is prosperous because of the tax that is put on whatever is loaned out. If it is 2 honey buns you want… well you can get 2 now for 3 back later. Or 4 back for 6 or 6 for 10. A store box makes a lot of money because everyone always wants something. But the headache comes from chasing down everything that is owed.

Number 1 gambling tickets… Sports rule in prison and having a ticket where guys are able to pick games and who they think will win those games and the ability to win lots of money based upon the amount you play on those tickets is by far the best hustle while incarcerated. But gambling tickets also run a high risk of loss by whoever runs them. (Read ticket fever and a mural mishap) on any given compound there could be as many as 15 different gambling tickets. Maybe even more. Why so many? Because guys love to bet and the thought of winning money, sometimes lots of money, probably the greatest thrill while in prison.

The top ten hustles to have in prison…

Number 10 is washing dishes… The bottom of the barrel of prison hustles yet all so important all in the same. There are literally guys here who will wash dishes for a cup of coffee. Or even a single ramen noodle! Have no pity on these guys though; they survive in their own way. And they never go hungry either because prisoners are always eating so in turn there are always dishes to wash.

Number 9 laundry… If you’re not good at much else and you’re willing to put your pride aside, you can always wash and fold other prisoners laundry. Most prisoners love having a laundry man who they can trust to wash and fold their clothes. And just like the dishes at a single ramen noodle alone who can resist?

Number 8 the hustle man… A hustle man is a guy you can go to with anything you might want to sell or for anything you might want to buy. Hustle men are always selling something and for a little extra too so they can make some money themselves. Hustle men know all the prisoners who have all the big money and they are probably the most plugged in guys on the compound. At every prison it doesn’t take long to find out who the hustle men are.

Number 7 Mr. fixes it… One thing about prison is guys here have all sorts of shit. T.V.s, cd players, head phones, shoes, shorts, sweat pants… and with all of these things there is always something that needs repaired. Headphones short out, sweatpants rip… things always need to be fixed and if you can fix them you can survive a little easier here.

Number 6 candy… Making candy is a great way for anyone to jump into the hustlers world there is not a lot of risk involved in this either. Yet if you do get caught, chances are you will lose your product which in terms equals a big hit to your money. It doesn’t take much money to start making money here but of course more money equals more product which equals more money. There is all sorts of candy that guys make while in prison and there is a huge market for all of it. I’ll get further in depth with this later as I chronicle a candy maker in his adventure.

Stay tuned because 5-1 is to come later…

Survival week

Welcome to survival week!  This week is going to be an adventure as I give you a real deal inside look at how prisoners “get by” on a daily basis while in prison.

Prison hustles are the biggest part of this, so of course, they will contribute the largest portion of all that I will tell you about.

This week you will learn what the best hustles are that prisoners use while incarcerated. I will even break down a few of these “hustlers” day to day activities.

Think of it sort of like an episode of “cops”.

You know, you’re right there along for the action. That’s what I am going for here. Except minus the whole cops thing, because this is prison after all…

And we know fuck-ee with the police-e-a.

I will also tell you some major dos and don’ts about running a successful prison hustle. There are plenty of things you need to know and a whole lot you need to watch for in order to be prosperous in your chosen field of hustle while on the inside.

I’m not sure who this will benefit.  I mean, I don’t know who out there in the world needs this sort of information.

But then again, maybe someone does.

Maybe someone out there has been thinking long and hard about a possible trip to prison…

Maybe this will be useful to them.

But if you’re not someone who has been thinking that sort of thing, well maybe your interest will be peeked as I tell you all about what guys do just to survive on the inside.