The Suburban Inmate: A Man’s Guide To Surviving Prison by Allan Thorn is a pure gem.
Allan Thorn is a guy that did one year in federal prison, decided he was an expert and wrote a survival guide.
We call it “The Gospel” here at Yankton and my roommates and co-workers ask for daily readings from it because it’s so outrageous.
Now, I would be lying to you if I said there isn’t some truth to it, and I have no doubt that Mr. Thorn’s experience is about 70% authentic based on his perception of what he thinks he experienced while incarcerated.
But the advice he gives in this book deserves a title more like The Suburban Inmate: A Man’s Guide To Getting Raped, Stabbed, Killed, Or At The Very Least, Beat Up!
His simple steps are; pick a god, lie to everyone before you get to prison, once you are at prison pretend you are someone else and call everyone a b#@#$, find a “husband” to protect you, and finally, follow a rigorous routine that doesn’t take into account national count times.
So about his first rule: pick a god, any god. There is nothing wrong with being religious in prison, and there is nothing wrong with finding god or religion in prison, but stating the fact that, “If you do not practice any religion or spirituality at the time they throw you into the cell, you are done for,” (pg. 13) is a little extreme and false. I have seen some powerful conversions while I have been incarcerated and those have made very powerful impacts in those individuals lives, but there are also Satanists that have come down from the highest institutions and other than being angry all the time, it looks like they are going to make it out just fine. I will back up Mr. Thorn here as far as saying the religious practice is recommended, however, it’s not required. If you told or cooperated on your case and are looking to be protected at a higher facility, then the chapel is a good place to hide.
His next rule is: pretend you are someone else, or “be an actor,” Mr. Thorn took on the role of “young godfather,” which was quite entertaining. He recommends that you do not reveal your true self at any moment. During transport have a story prepared for why you are in. He goes on with a bunch of terrible racial stereotypes of what to say if you are Asian, white, or black. In short, if you are Asian tell them you know some type of martial arts, but don’t say karate because apparently that’s lame. If you are white, either be white trash, or dial in your Jeffrey Dahmer impression and don’t worry Thorn has a story prepared for you, “Yes, back in Milwaukee I’m a crop duster. It’s fun flying all day and a lot of times I’ll detour and fly to Chicago. But one time I crashed on a farm in Illinois and probably killed an entire family. I was like, no way am I going to prison for life, so I forced that plane to fly back to Madison with one engine! When I got back I told my boss what happened and he immediately torched that plane to get rid of the evidence! And now I’m here for tax fraud. Karma is a bitch, eh?”(Pg. 22)
Once you get to prison continue with whatever persona that you created in transit, and don’t show any signs of weakness or you will be raped on the spot.
I don’t know where to begin with arguing against these suggestions. If you actually go to prison whatever you are in for probably doesn’t carry a similar sentence to capital murder. His stated benefit of not being posed as weak doesn’t outweigh the risk of having to explain this story once it’s reported to authorities and you are shoved in a room with FBI agents asking for more details. So please do not be an actor, be yourself. Unless yourself is someone whose mouth gets them in trouble often, then talk less until you figure the prison thing out, then come out of your shell once it’s safe. In prison, especially early on, it’s always safe to error on the side of being reserved, but once you get to know the people you are doing time with it’s not so bad, because everyone is in the same boat.
The section of “The Truth About Male Bonding and Prison Rape,” was both colorful and eye-opening. It encourages anyone small, feminine, and incapable of fighting off an attacker to find another inmate who they can get protection from and call them your “husband,” regardless of sexual preference. One thing I didn’t mention earlier is Allan Thorn is also homosexual, so when he arrived at the prison he felt he could not be himself and figured the prison world would be hard for him, and he was probably right to believe that.
As I have said, prison is a harsh environment full of people ready to take advantage of anyone for any reason. Regardless of your situation and where you end up going to prison just know, there are people like you there already that have already experienced what you are going through. Please don’t find a “husband,” especially if you are a heterosexual male who isn’t interested in having a husband. It sends the wrong message that you are into that sort of thing and unwanted attention will come your way. A better idea would be to find a crowd you fit in with, that isn’t trying to take advantage of you.
If you at any point feel someone is after something you aren’t interested in, then ditch the crowd and start over. I feel for anyone who has been a victim of prison violence, but lower-level facilities, such as lows and camps, are generally pretty safe places as far as prison standards go. Just be smart who you hang out with and how you put yourself out there to others.
Last of all Mr. Thorn has a recommended schedule for you to follow and it includes over five hours of working out, meals at the chow hall, mail call, and free time with his husband. One thing that stood out was he taught a yoga class at 4 pm, which happens to be at count time, so not completely sure how he pulled that off, but regardless of that small detail, I don’t recommend spending all day every day working out. It’s probably better to stick to a workout schedule that you can both maintain throughout your incarceration and continue once you are released.
There are plenty of other activities available throughout the prison to fill the extra time, find something a little more balanced, and like I said before change it up from time to time.
That is all for my review of The Suburban Inmate, I hope you enjoyed, and feel free to check it out yourself if it’s still sold!
Thanks for listening!