Here’s an unflinching article about the realities of prison sex, as told by a man who spent ten years in state prison for armed robbery:

When I tell people that I recently finished serving a 10-year prison sentence for armed robbery, mostly in maximum-security facilities, I often feel a question lingering in the air. The moment I sense it, I try to respond to the awkward silence in some offhanded way, though it is hard to be blithe and whimsical when you’re telling people you were never raped in prison.

I can speak only for myself, but in my own time in the New York State system, I rarely saw or even heard about non-consensual sex between men. Perhaps I was just very lucky. Maybe I’d been incarcerated only in the “softer” corners of the penal system. Rape does happen, and all over any prison there are signs with a number to call to anonymously report it, which I always thought was less a matter of sodomy than of legal liability.

But more common, from what I could see, was an older prisoner taking a young and inexperienced kid under his wing. Most often, this kid has no money and likes to get high; there are many such people in prison, and they tend to burn their bridges early and totally. And so the older man, who has usually already served major time, feeds the kid, and gets him a little something to smoke or snort. Now the kid has become a “fish.” They start working out together, then showering together, then there is a massage, and finally, the kid is asked to “help” the older guy out. He’s “no homo,” but he has needs ….

These predators are called “booty bandits” in English, which sounds ridiculous, but in Spanish, the word is much more picturesque and of an older etymology: bugaron. The literal translation would be “buggerer,” but most people stick with the Spanish. In any case, very few bugarons—at least not the ones I personally came across or heard about—operate by force. The ones who do have nicknames that ring bells all across the state system: Mother Dearest and Pissy Black are the two most famous ones, both big guys who don’t take no for an answer.

He also has this to say about porn in prison, along with the new-to-me notion that prisoners are the reason that porn magazines still get printed:

Not all states allow pornography, somehow getting around the First Amendment, and sex offenders are not allowed to possess it, but there is nevertheless a lot of porn in prison. I have to assume that the publishers of magazines like Fox and Big Black Ass exist purely for the incarcerated market. When the hardest porn around is only a click away, at least in the unincarcerated world, who needs to go to Times Square to buy Screw?

Most men in prison collect pornography with great aplomb and sometimes become completists. A Hasidic Jew I knew had every Buttman ever printed, and Buttman has been coming out for 20 years and costs as much as $20 per issue, new. Obviously, there is a resale market: “Bookmen” in the yard are not guys with the cart from Fiddler on the Roof offering old copies of How to Win Friends and Influence People. (Actually, that book is popular in prison.) Instead, they sneak around the compound with porn hidden in their belts and under their shirts, selling “books” for about a pack of cigarettes each. They sell out, and usually the bookman knows his clientele: He buys up the porn in stacks from those about to go home or die, and picks out what his clients like.

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