Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for Prison Scenes

Karen here today. I just wanted to make it clear who wrote this post because of the info I’m about to disclose. Back when I was 23 I spent 2 ½  years in prison. Say What?!

*As a correctional officer*


I worked a super maximum security prison and at 23 years old I looked like I was 17. Combine that with being 5’2” it wasn’t easy to get the inmates to take me seriously. My first day there every prisoner I encountered asked if my mommy knew where I worked. The stories I could tell…but that’s not the point of this post. J

When I read a book or watch a movie with a prison scene in it, I’m always looking for authenticity. Some have it, some don’t…and some really don’t need it. The list below is some of my favorite prison scenes.

Chicago: I’d still be working at the prison if I could watch the inmates pull off dance numbers like, He Had it Coming. Love that freakin’ scene.

The Shawshank Redemption: As far as I can tell, this is a pretty authentic prison movie. Not that I
would know how prisons were before my mother was even born. But I know that whenever we searched a cell, the inmates had to take down their posters because of what happened in Shawshank. We actually used it as a verb. "Did you Shawshank that cell?" Didn’t want there to be a tunnel hiding behind that naked lady poster.

The Green Mile: As a death row film this really touched me. The prison I worked in held the death penalty inmates for Maryland. I used to support the death penalty until I worked there. I didn’t think I’d like this movie, but I really loved it. R.I.P. Michael Clarke Duncan.

Bad Boys: Do you remember this movie? Not the Will Smith/Martin Lawrence movie, but the 1983 Sean Penn. It’s one of Penn’s earliest films and he truly stands out as a great actor. There is a scene where he puts cola cans in a pillow case and beats another inmate with it. Sounds brutal, it was brutal, but you can’t help rooting for Penn. The thing that stood out for me also was that Penn was supposed to be in a juvenile facility and the inmate he beat with the soda cans looked 35 if he was a day! lol. Great prison movie!
film staring

O Brother Where Art Thou?: This is really an escape from prison film, but I'm adding it anyway. I really didn’t think I would like this movie. I’m not the biggest Clooney fan—I know, something’s wrong with me—but this was one of those times were I was happy to be wrong. And good Lord, I could not get that song out of my head for weeks!

Lockdown: This one’s not a movie but a YA novel by Alexander Gordon Smith. The vision of Furnace Prison is so vivid that I feel like I’ve seen it, smelled it and run from those horrifying fleshy dogs. Just look at that gas mask! Would you like to wake up and see that staring at you through your cell bars? No thanks! I would gladly go to a regular prison for 25 years than spend one night in Furnace. If you haven’t checked out this series, it’s worth it!

So tell me which of these movies was your favorite prison scene/film. Tell me any that I’ve missed too. I’m always on the lookout for a good movie!


  1. Well the Shawshank Redemption is a great film overall, and it involves a prison library, so I am all for that.

    But I also love He Had it Coming from Chicago. I, too, would love to spend time in a prison where inmates did crazy dances every time they discussed their cases!

  2. Where are all the lady prison movies? Reform School Girls is gotta to be on this list somewhere... I must have missed it.

    The Shawshank Redemption is one of the better films, I think the roof repair was a great part of this film.

  3. I haven't seen any of them! I can't imagine working in a prison. I live a very sheltered life!

    Happy P day!

  4. The Shawshank Redemption is my favourite movie of all time. (I've only watched a handful of movies anyway...)
    Happy A to Z'ing...

    Writer In Transit

  5. Correctional office - tough gig.
    Someone else posted about prison movies today and I offered two Clint Eastwood films - Escape From Alcatraz and Cool Hand Luke.

  6. Seen most of these. Too bad about your own experience.

  7. I always hoped that prisoners would coordinate dance moves and sing - and then I saw the thriller video from that Filipino prison and realized it does happen.

  8. Mere: If ever I was unfortunate enough to go to prison, I’d NEED a library…oh and crazy dances!

    Jeremy: I’ve never seen Reform School Girls, but I’m thinking I should. And yeah, the rooftop scene was great.

    Ornery’s Wife: Stay sheltered! I wish I had-lol.

    Michelle: I wish I had a favorite movie of all time, but I love so many of them!

    Alex: Tough gig mentally, not so much physically. I’ve seen Escape from Alcatraz, but it’s been a while so it wasn’t fresh enough in my head. And I’ve never seen Cool Hand Luke. It’s one of those movies you know you should see, but you’ve never made time.

    Sheena: My experiences weren’t so bad. I actually wrote a book while I worked there, so it wasn’t so bad. 

    Sus: Oh wow! I forgot about that video! It was awesome. If only that’s what prison life was always like.

  9. I love Chicago ( I like Musicals). I truly enjoyed Shawshank Redemption. I haven't seen the other ones you listed and so many people have suggested Green Mile, I need to see it. I just saw Cool Hand Luke for the first time a few weeks ago and really liked it. Lucy from Lucy's Reality

  10. I loved the Shawshank Redemption and the Green Mile (I'm a big Stephen King fan) and I like O Brother Where Art Thou although I have trouble finding a whole lot of people who did. I heard Chicago was good but I can't stand musicals.

  11. Shawshank is my favorite movie, but I'd vote both for that and The Green Mile (Same creator and director). Haven't seen the others listed yet :(