Related (slightly): Rape in US prisons

Two movies I know of, one I recently watched, suggest that if one is going to prison, the best way to survive is to find someone on the first day and beat the hell out of them. The idea is that if others get the idea that you won't go easily, you'll be more likely to be left alone, less likely to be raped, and less likely future target for attack.

  • 25th hour (YouTube link that opens right to the quote). Update 2018-02: video reported as down, and I cannot locate a replacement. Per Wikiquote, here is the statement from Uncle Nikolai:

This is my advice to you: When you get there, figure it out who's who. Find the man nobody's protecting. A man without friends. And beat him until his eyes bleed. Let them think you are little bit crazy, but respectful, too. Respectful of the right men.

  • Office space (LINK to imdb list of quotes):

Rob Newhouse: Conjugal visits? Mmmm. Not that I know of. Y'know, minimum-security prison is no picnic. I have a client in there right now. He says the trick is: kick someone's ass the first day, or become someone's bitch. Then everything will be all right.

So, does this approach give one an advantage in terms of survival and/or not being a target of future assault/rape (I realize that rape apparently isn't that common, or as common as it's made out to be, per the related question above)?

Update 2018-05-25: Ben Barden does not believe movie claims count as specific enough. I don't know what that means, but to populate this with other examples that this is a sufficiently notable claim:

His advice is that yes, it is absolutely critical you fight as hard and viciously as you can the first time you get into a confrontation. It is prison.

also is it true that u are supposed to try to kick someones ass the first day so that no one fucks with you? thats wat every1 has been sayin but honestly i dont know ok thanks

That said, coming from the biggest, meanest-looking guy in the prison yard, please, don’t walk up and punch me in the face.

I think that these show the claim is well known enough to exist on this site. It may not be answerable, but it's a claim people make that could be answered with the right data (which may or may not exist).

  • 6
    Reporting violence (such as rape) while in prison can be fatal because "rat finks" are strongly disliked (it's a matter of street smarts), so I suspect that many incidents probably don't get reported at all. Additionally, a famous study from the 1970s known as "The Stanford Prison Experiment" (prisonexp.org), which had to be terminated prematurely because of the violence, only scratches the surface of how terrible a prison environment can be. Commented Jul 11, 2011 at 8:41
  • 21
    It would seem to me that beating up the wrong person would make you more likely to run into problems. The only real hope you'd have of making this work would be if you found someone who had no friends within the prison, which would be very hard to determine on the first day. Otherwise, you'd simply be inviting retaliation.
    – Beofett
    Commented Jul 11, 2011 at 15:37
  • 3
    @Beofett: intuitively, that makes sense to me as well. Note that the 25th hour quote includes advice to beat up the "right" person (no friends, not protected), but it's unclear how one would determine this.
    – Hendy
    Commented Jul 11, 2011 at 16:43
  • This is going to vary by prison, what sort of charge you have, and your ability, or inability to stay away from gambling, drugs, or anything that puts you "in debt". I'm not sure where you'd even find sources to answer this question though, most of it boils down to 'common sense'. Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 16:55
  • 1
    Even if this technique worked, classifying it as 'the best' is opinion based.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 12:21


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