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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thank goodness for penitentiaries

Several months ago the NY Post ran an item about this website:

(Follow the links, then click on "inmates.") 

The site encourages people to become pen pals with prisoners. Curious as to what such a site would be like, I took a look. I was going to write a post about it, but then thought that if people saw that I'd looked at such a website, they'd think I was a homo. So I didn't write one.

Back then, however, I was but a callow 56 1/4. Now, at 56 3/4, I'm far more sure of myself. So I'm posting the link.

The site is fascinating -- in a ghoulish sort of way. What makes it even creepier is the rah rah copy accompanying many of the pictures. This entry from June 21, 2008, is typical:

"Do you like six pack abs, sexy tattoos, and a hard body that most of us just dream of? Uhm. I do! This is the update for you who like real rock hard men, who have soft hearts. They would like to be friends with you -- or maybe more. Why not write them a letter and start the ball rolling now?"

Soft hearts? I wonder how they demonstrate that quality. Perhaps by raping other inmates, figuring out new ways to smuggle in drugs, joining gangs, and shanking snitches.

Take a look at the pictures and judge for yourself if these "rock hard men" have soft hearts or not. I know, appearances can be deceiving; but they can also be telling. And most of the inmates pictured definitely look like the type who'd rape other inmates, rather than be raped.

The black guys, who constitute but a small fraction of the pictures -- reflecting their proportion of the overall rather than prison population -- for the most part look like black guys you'd see on the street. But many of the white guys are downright scary; they look like the guys you see in the prison shows on TV. Many are covered in tattoos, and a few even have them on their faces.

Some are extremely muscular. It's apparent that they have little to do in prison other than lift weights, and some are obviously on steroids. (If they're not, they're even scarier.)

Many seem to have violence just written into their faces. It may be my imagination, but many also have the look of abused kids who've grown up and are looking for revenge -- on anybody.

But what's also striking is how several of them actually do look like the boy next door. Some of the inmates pictured are quite handsome -- all the better to ply their nefarious schemes. It's quite easy to imagine them victimizing various women. In fact, it's virtually impossible to look at these pictures and not wonder about what evil these guys have committed.

The one unanswered question which screams out as you're looking at these pictures is, what is each of them in for? Murder? Assault and battery? And what (high) percentage of those faces conceal sociopathic personalities? (Or in many cases, barely conceal them.) Are these inmates in maximum security, or medium security institutions? Are any of them serial killers who were only caught for one murder, and managed to get off with a manslaughter plea?

Another piece of copy, from August 26, 2009, reads:

"We've got the goods! OK, I know what you are thinking...These guys are so very hot, but I'm a little scared to write to a prisoner. He's so hot, and I'm not. Really, most of the guys are absolute sweethearts. And you won't find out till you write them..."

Yep, that's the main reason you wouldn't write them -- because you might not be as good-looking as them. Honey, I hate to break it to you, but there's another reason you might not want to correspond -- because you don't want to be victimized.

(My favorite piece of copy from the website is dated October 5, 2008: "HotPrisonPals endorses Barack Obama for President of USA. America, please vote smart. Vote for Obama." That tells you pretty much everything you needed to know about that election.)

Take a look at the site. It'll make you think.

And one of your thoughts will probably be, it's a good thing those prisons are so solidly constructed.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for pointing me to this website. I've been scrolling through profiles, trying to weed out the sociopaths from the one-off criminals. I think I've found one by the name of Gene Beck. See his request:

"First and foremost you must admit to yourself that I'm the best looking guy you've seen so far. Second hopefully I've accomplished my mission by putting a smile on your face. If you're bitter and not smiling, we're definitely not compatible. Having joy and happiness in your life is mandatory. I'm looking for a friend to spend some years with. Someone I can bounce ideas and thoughts off of, and return the same. Somebody I can be there for when times get rough, and laugh when times are better.

A little about myself. I'm 6'1", 205 lbs. SWM, with green eyes and red hair. I believe in second chances and and a very nonjudgmental person. I have an open mind and a strong belief system. I'm charismatic, loyal, and extremely awesome in every sense of the word.

I was 18 when I committed my crime. A man raped a girl I was letting stay with me. He was 43 and she was 17 he got her drunk and when she passed out he took her. I did what I thought necessary. That's it for now, look forward to hearing from you."

I looked this guy up on the website - it looks as if what he "thought necessary" was murder because he won't be out until 2026. Even if his defence were true, normal people wouldn't react like that; they'd call the police and make sure the girl was all right. The mugshots website notes that this guy has maintained very poor conduct whilst in jail, starting fights and engaging in a forgery of some sort.

Also, note the self-description. Saying what he's interested in isn't enough: he's got to describe himself as "extremely awesome in every sense". Going on about how much they want strangers to be happy seems to be a sociopath habit, as does going on about what a "loyal" person they are. The worse the criminal, the more they go on about how nice they are.

Like you said, thank goodness for penitentiaries!

John Craig said...

Anon --
Great analysis. Beck has tried to make himself sound like a knight in shining armor with his "defense" of that girl; my guess is that it was more a matter of another guy infringing on Beck's property, and Beck taking revenge (while simultaneously trying to impress the girl).

And you're right about the way sociopaths describe -- and see -- themselves: "the worse the criminal, the moer they go on about how nice they are." Exactly.

Thank you.