Movies and TV shows have a huge influence on us. It's easy to believe what we see on screen. And while it's easy to dismiss superheroes as nothing but Hollywood fantasy, some of the misconceptions and myths they perpetuate aren't that easy to identify and dismantle.

A few days ago, Reddit user u/Warlock1509 posted a question to the platform, asking people who have been in a penitentiary what's something movies get wrong about them. Interestingly, they have received over 500 comments and the ex-inmates have provided an eye-opening perspective that you don't often get to hear.

#1

Things-Hollywood-Gets-Wrong-About-Prison I went to jail and didn't get raped. My cellmates were really chill and we all respected each other.

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Luther von Wolfen
Community Member
1 month ago

Hollywood loves prison rape because it's an easy way to manipulate the audiences emotions.

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#2

Things-Hollywood-Gets-Wrong-About-Prison The sheer boredom....and everyone there actually pretty nice, but damn it was boring as hell.

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TK 421
Community Member
1 month ago

The boredom is why so many prisoners get advanced degrees while inside.

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#3

Things-Hollywood-Gets-Wrong-About-Prison Most of them aren't hardened criminals. They simply made a mistake, or came from a bad situation, and are genuinely trying to assimilate back into society.

Also, some of these dudes are hella smart. Trying to get a job as an ex-con is very difficult. If they never got involved with drugs or gangs they'd be major contributors.

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James016
Community Member
1 month ago

There is a company in the UK called Timpsons, they do shoe repair, key cutting, etc. Most of their employees have been in prison. They give these people a chance and as far as I know, none of them have re-offended as they now have a stable life, a job.

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#4

Things-Hollywood-Gets-Wrong-About-Prison I've worked with a lot of inmates from different parts of the world:

Inmates love to work, fights even break out for jobs because people are so bored.

Rape isn't as common as people think in Western Prisons.

There is a problem where some new comers think they have to start a fight with the biggest guy, if you mind your own business people usually leave you alone.

Never ever show off or act tough. Defend yourself if needed and eat humble pie if needed.

Drugs are a massive problem inside.

Prisoners can buy things inside.

Don't ever deal or carry drugs in Asia, sentences are no joke.

There are different forms of currency inside, some prisons even have their own minted currency.

Prisons across the world can be very different.

A lot of prisons don't use bars but doors.

Prison in certain places like Brazil are a slaughter house.

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mulk
Community Member
1 month ago

last paragraph Oo'

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#5

Things-Hollywood-Gets-Wrong-About-Prison The guys were actually very nice and gave me life advice. Something about having your freedom stripped away gives people a newfound love for wisdom and giving advice

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Vorknkx
Community Member
1 month ago

To (roughly) translate a verse from a poem in my country: "There in prison you meet some people, and you become human again."

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#6

Things-Hollywood-Gets-Wrong-About-Prison Whistling in jail. You will get yelled at by other people, s**t travels through the pipes and sounds awful.

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Vorknkx
Community Member
1 month ago

Or playing the harmonica.

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#7

Things-Hollywood-Gets-Wrong-About-Prison Spent a little over a week in jail a few years ago. Spent the first few days in solitary on suicide watch. (it was not a good point in my life obviously)

The guards checked on me regularly and were genuinely concerned. Not sure if they knew what I was in for was complete bulls**t or if they were just good people. Even though it was complete bulls**t, I didn't let the situation take away my politeness or give them a hard time. I knew where I was and they had a job to do. I wasn't going to be an as***le to another person doing there job just because I was in jail. It wasn't there fault. It was the broken system around it. Shrugs

I would assume they noticed that I wasn't an issue to them. I was an issue to myself. I refused to eat for 5 days due to depression and trying to find anything to kill myself with. They noticed and tried their best to get me to eat. One very sweet CO pulled back the slot in the door and was begging me to eat because she was concerned. You could hear it in her voice. I never gave them issues. Just told her I'm so sick of the situation and I wanted to die due to the situation etc. Bawled my eyes out. She sat there and talked with me for a bit before she had to go back on regular rounds. I felt bad that I made her upset and told her so. She told me that I can tell by how I was speaking to her I was there for bulls**t because nobody was ever nice to her unless they were being f**ked by the system. The ones who would give her issues were the chronic offenders. She was a sweet woman. I hope she's doing well.

I was placed in the psych section of the jail after mandatory solitary was done with for suicide watch. I had no idea that there was a section meant for people with psych issues. Think of a gen pop but on a much smaller scale where they can keep a better eye on you.

The CO'S at this point were ok. Never gave us issues. 5 days in I f**ked up my ankle because I had to get off the top bunk and slipped and rolled it because the dude below me was suffering from some kind of mental issue and would draw on the floor with soap. I slipped, f**ked my ankle and getting up and down from the top bunk was an issue obviously. When we had to do "roll call" every 5 or 6 hours, we had to walk up to the bars and show them our ID bracelet when they called our name. One of the inmates had enough when one CO started getting annoyed I couldn't make it to the bars in time due to my ankle and another inmate spoke up for me. Didn't know him. Come to find out he was there for murder. But he saw what happened when I f**ked my ankle.He yelled at the CO: "WHAT THE F**K IS WRONG WITH YOU. GIVE HIM A MINUTE. YOU KNOW DAMN WELL HIS ANKLE IS F**KED". CO backed down and just said "ok". Lol. Yeah... That inmate got my breakfast every morning after that. I gave it to him out of respect. Not like I was gonna eat it anyway. Unspoken respect and understanding was made that day... This was in an inner city jail too with very high crime rate. Not a "white collar I'll be out in a month to enjoy my yacht" place.

TL;DR: -50/10 still would not recommend. But some humanity can still be found in hell.

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Nicola Dimigen
Community Member
1 month ago

"Would not recommend" Same. I haven't been in prison, but I don't plan on going any time soon.

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#8

Things-Hollywood-Gets-Wrong-About-Prison No guns or cell phones. On TV whenever a cop goes to the jail when they are interviewing the suspect they have a gun and cell phone on their hip. Both items are turned in at the front gate

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Bobert Robertson
Community Member
1 month ago

Well, how else are the prisoners supposed to take over the prison in the movies if the careless cop doesn't give up his gun?

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#9

Things-Hollywood-Gets-Wrong-About-Prison I volunteered in our county jail when I was in high school. One thing they don't show in movies is that they smell like BO and piss.

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Ara
Community Member
1 month ago

I'm surprised a teenager was allowed to work in a jail

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#10

Things-Hollywood-Gets-Wrong-About-Prison Half the inmates are mentally ill - not only a few crazy ppl that the movies use to add color and character, but crazy ppl everywhere

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Lauren Caswell
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

Because prisons aren't equipped to deal with mental health, nor are courts, in general terms. Im not saying mental health means no prison by any means: they just aren't getting the kind of help they need. Mental health is as vital as physical health and there can be a link between unmanaged mental health and antisocial behaviour

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#11

There aren’t always actual toilets. Like a toilet with a bowl, lever, cistern etc.

Sometimes there’s just what looks like a kitchen draining board with a large hole.

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BensMom
Community Member
1 month ago

A “squat” toilet. Common in some countries, less common in more advanced countries, but probably in every country. They require a certain bit of agility.

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#12

Things-Hollywood-Gets-Wrong-About-Prison Not me but my sister. The boredom, and for her the lack of cigarettes. The jail was smoke-free and you got a smoke break twice a day.

A friend, the boredom and lack of decent reading material. Most inmates are illiterate and had no interests beyond what they knew, the ignorance was breathtakingly depressing. He said he had one intelligent conversation in three months. He was in the local jail fighting drug charges and managed to get house arrest and was very happy to come home and take a long hot shower with real soap.

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*me*
Community Member
1 month ago

I wish they still had prison as punishment, but made it worthwhile, so you’re not wasting years of your life in some small cell

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#13

Things-Hollywood-Gets-Wrong-About-Prison Drugs are crazy easy to get. At least where i was.

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Bobert Robertson
Community Member
1 month ago

Drugged out prisoners are less likely to riot or cause problems. The wardens encourage this in many jails.

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#14

They always show the food as more akin to regular food than it really is. I've never been in jail as an inmate, but I was a Criminology student in college and my Penology class toured various facilities throughout the state and I visited a friend in a a county jail once.

The food looks practically like pastel play doh and mash. It's no wonder sometimes even McDonalds is too rich for inmates to eat when they get out after being in for an extended stay. Honestly, it makes the whole idea of a last meal before execution seem like a cruel joke to me when you think of how long a lot of death row inmates are in for before they actually get executed.

Just for added context I live in Kentucky.

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Red Hair Blue Soul
Community Member
1 month ago

This is why we need to stop privatization of prisons. They are allowed to pay the lowest amount of $ for everything in the prison system, including food and Healthcare.

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#15

I once dropped the famous soap and everyone just started laughing. No rape.

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WolfGirl23
Community Member
1 month ago

You probably don't want to drop the soap though. Who knows how dirty those floors are

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#16

There really aren't bars on windows and doors anymore. It's mostly plexiglass nowadays.

The noisy guy in movies/TV who whistles, sings, talks, etc. He will be frequently be told/threatened to shut up.

It's boring as hell! In fact, lots of guards hate being there as well.

Speaking of guards, not all of them are meatheads/"beefcakes". Too many of them are fat and out of shape slobs.

Inmates are friendlier than you think. As long as you mind your business, you'll be ok.

(At least in the units where I was at in the jail I was in) not every white guy with tattoos is a white supremacist, not every Hispanic is a cholo/gangbanger, not every black person is a drug dealer.

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nerdify
Community Member
1 month ago

All the stereotypes given to inmates shows that there's more respect on the inside than out.

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#17

There are typically a few actual gay men in prison who want to bottom, so it is very rare for straight men to be sexually abused unless that sexual abuse is some kind of of revenge or punishment.

Besides that, there are a lot of literally crazy, unhinged people in jail, people who behave so abnormal that it leaves you dumbstruck and you ask yourself "why would anyone in their right mind act like that?" They just pick fight constantly or they are paranoid and schizophrenic... It's a bit frightening sometimes. There's no rhyme or reason to their behaviour. It's the kind of people who when not locked up would do terrible things in society just because they are nuts:. Beat up children, murder innocent people because they think those people were out to get them, torture animals, etc.

Really, prison keeps lots of literal loonies off the street.

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Losferatu
Community Member
1 month ago

It sounds like those people should be in a mental institution getting treatment, not forgotten in a jail where they'll only get worse.

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#18

I worked in a military prison for 3 years, some of our procedures might be different but these are some of the things that I noticed:

boredom, they are all so bored all the time.

Most of them just want to do their time and go home. Not a lot of them are trying to act out and misbehave for whatever reason. That Good behavior time off their sentence is like gold to them.

Suicide watch is a real thing, 24 / 7 there is guard sitting outside the cell watching them do everything.

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WilvanderHeijden
Community Member
1 month ago

Didn't work with Jeffrey, though. He was suicided and the guards were too busy ordering stuff on Amazon to notice.

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#19

The movies get a lot of it wrong but I was surprised to learn that most of the old timers sound like Morgan Freeman.

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Ms.GB
Community Member
1 month ago

Lmao! Get those old timers some voice over work pronto!

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#20

Every morning, they'd come in to ask 2 inmates to take out the trash. You roll a couple giant bins full of bags out to the dumpster. Just that little bit of something to do that involved going outside, even though it was just 10 minutes tossing nasty trash bags into a dumpster, was so popular one guy threatened to kick my ass because he thought he should have been picked before me.

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Dodo
Community Member
1 month ago

Anyone else think prison should have classes, like school? Give the inmates some structure to their day, and let them learn stuff. Don't force them into classes, let them pick what they want to learn.

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#21

I know its hard to imagine, but movies can't replicate the smell inside the jail. It is a smell that can't be described. The stench is something between bad body odor and garbage along with not sufficient ventilation and something else. It is truly disgusting.

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Ms.GB
Community Member
1 month ago

Doesn't sound very sanitary...I wonder what they do for covid? How would you stop the spread of something like that in prison?

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#22

You're only going to catch s**t, get beat up or shanked if you're a pedophile, member of a rival gang, or you're just otherwise a piece of s**t that causes other people grief. Mind your own business and be respectful when you do interact and things will be pretty boring. It's not the "Everyone is fair play." trope media makes jail and prison out to be.

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Ms.GB
Community Member
1 month ago

I'm happy to hear the part about beating up pedophiles is true.

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#23

dropping the soap will not get you rampantly taken from behind.

source: a friend with soap on a bungee.

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Aaron W
Community Member
1 month ago

Buddy of mine did some time in his younger days. On his first (or second) day inside, he dropped the soap in the shower. He immediately threw his hands in the air and started yelling dramatically about it. Made everyone laugh.

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#24

Things-Hollywood-Gets-Wrong-About-Prison There are no underground fight tournaments

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Bobert Robertson
Community Member
1 month ago

This seems to follow the first rule of fight club. You never talk about fight club. This makes me believe there is a fight club.

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#25

Strangest one I ever went to was a work release camp where I would pick up my friend to take them to work, and return them later in the day. The place was an abandoned motel converted into a prison compound. You would go into the former front desk area to check out the person and check them back in. Never saw anything like that in the movies.

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Robin Virga
Community Member
1 month ago

I participated in Auburn University's Rural Studio program (architecture major) in Hale County, Alabama. That community, and the school in particular, work with a local work release camp. The guys do a ton for the local community, and AJ and Fred (both inmates) are a genuinely beloved part of the extended school family. They taught us a ton of construction techniques, and AJ even used to patch our torn up work clothes for us (yes, we paid him for this service), and he'd end up making works of art out of simple patches. Expanding this kind of community oriented work-camp type program, in a community which gives the prisoners respect, seems like one path to a better prison system in America on the whole.

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#26

Uk prison over a decade ago remanded. Im a regular lad, not some dumbass 50 cent wannabe.

Reception "right you are in with a Mr so and so" Instantly thought aww for f**k sake, here we go, drama first ten minutes (they think they are helping you by pairing you with a local, but coming from the typical northern town little pond scenario.... Hes an op)

Did not know what to expect and as it tuned out we were kept apart after day 2 and we never had an issue on a personal level but its one of those things.

Ok to answer your question, i planned and did go in there keeping myself to myself but reading the situation subconsciously a lot because i was expecting people jumped, slashed etc, potentially riots, on the regular but in my experience it must be dependent on who's in at the time because its quite the opposite, f**king monotonous, the days drag and watching day time quiz shows like pensioners in a nursing home.

The directors use artistic license adding drama to make prison movies appeal to mainstream audiences.

Other than seeing a few fights which is no shock, the only day of drama was watching as i heard a plastic click sound. It was the top being closed on a kettle,hot water and likely sugar.

The lad roared out so the target turned to look, and threw it over him, but he didn't cover the whole face, a part but not most but Jesus Christ it melted into his neck, his skin had boils raised out of him instantly and that sticky mixture, your finished, the shrieking was that loud it was deafening.

Overall boring travel lodge experience. Good food and the hosts never botherd us. Not intending to return. would give it a 3/5

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Beeps
Community Member
1 month ago

Here in the UK most, if not all, prisons allow inmates to keep an electric kettle in their cell. Why oh why oh why I will never understand, as it just seems to make this sort of thing mandatory.

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#27

You know those scenes where they clog up a toilet with TP to cause a distraction? There are a few reasons that won't work.

First off, those toilets are STRONG. That thing will suck a sock down. If it does get clogged, the pipes usually have valves built in to prevent too much from backing up since it's such a common tactic for people to try. Finally, you never get that much TP to begin with. Unless you take the cleanest s***s ever or are fine with a crusty butthole, you never have enough TP to just do the job it was designed for let alone any sorts of clogging.

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Tiffini
Community Member
1 month ago

I worked in a prison for two years. They don't use TP - that's a precious commodity, but they do use the toilet to flood their cells frequently. I don't know what they stuff in there to do it, but it happens a lot when they are mad about something.

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#28

The showers. I've never been to prison but heard they have group showers but the jail i was in had separate showers with s***ty little curtains. The worst part about showers was hitting the button for water every 15 seconds

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Scagsy
Community Member
1 month ago

Sounds very much like being a semi-pro footballer in the UK.

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#29

In actual prison, any sort of electronic item must have a clear shell, something that isn't seen in movies. This is to ensure you're not hiding or smuggling things. Also, any noise making electronic has a max volume that is so low, you have to hold it to your ear to hear it. I've been been to prison, I only watched a youtube video on it

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Kaisa
Community Member
1 month ago

Not true for all prisons. Not in Europe at least.

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#30

Not an answer to your question, but it's interesting that not many people are as mean or hostile. Many shows on American tv channels portray prisons as these awful places. The media also portrays the same thing. Meanwhile in other countries in Europe prisoners are treated much better and are given many more opportunities to better their life after prison.

It's sad that American prisons are portrayed in such a manner and don't offer the same treatment as other countries.

If only we had a better view on our prison system maybe we would be more inclined to fix it.

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Valisbourne Spiritforge
Community Member
1 month ago

You can't fix what you don't want to. Many people here think that, if you are in jail you belong there and whatever happens to you is your fault (as if the people running the jail weren't responsible for your health and well being while you had no freedom to take care of either). Just because someone is/has been in jail doesn't mean they are no longer a human being.

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