I Went Undercover in America's Toughest Prison
J Thoendell stashed this in Crime
I wanted to find out. I also wanted to see how much of what I knew—or thought I knew—about jail turned out to be true. So I wrote to corrections departments worldwide asking for access.
Russia, China, Hong Kong, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Jamaica, Sweden, Norway, France, the UK and Britain’s own off-shore tax haven, the Isle of Man all refused because my personal safety “could not be guaranteed.” The Zimbabwean prison service said that “the request was considered,” but they turned me down eventually. I even sent an email to Guantanamo Bay but got no reply.
Just as I was about to give up, I discovered that I could go to jail in America as an “undercover voluntary detainee.” With the right procedure I could gain admittance to “holding facilities” in Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska and North Dakota. My contacts in law enforcement helped cook up a plausible cover story: I was arrested for driving a stolen car on the wrong side of the road and found in possession of methamphetamine. The cover was funny because a) I cannot drive, and b) I had absolutely no idea what methamphetamine was.
Bless the folks who write for Vice for enduring discomfort to give us great write-ups like this.
The American prison system needs to change.