Mr. Manners’ Guide To Proper Jail-House Etiquette

I will never forget my first culinary experience in the Kern County Jail. The breakfast menu consisted of “oatmeal” that looked like wallpaper paste. The potatoes were a collage of burned and uncooked potatoes and the sausage a.k.a. “Gorilla Burgers” were some form of indiscernible meat product. I was so mortified on my first visit that I couldn’t bear to eat a thing. By my last visit to the County Jail, however, I would eat my breakfast and the breakfast of any fish who was too revolted to eat his.

The jailhouse dining room provides a fascinating array of dining companions of varying degrees of mental stability from anxiety to schizophrenia and who are in for everything from drunk in public to murder. The toilet is also somewhere in the dinning room, so you don’t have much choice if someone decides to have a bowel movement while you are trying to choke down your gorilla burger. Don’t make a stink about it if they do. Always keep a low profile.

The first rule of etiquette I recommend is to try to control your bodily functions including vomiting until after meal time. Trust me, your dinning experience, and your personal safety will be greatly enhanced by your self-control.

The second rule of etiquette is if you can’t eat your breakfast, try to offer yours to someone else. It’s a great way to establish positive interpersonal relationships and make new friends. So much for table etiquette.

My third suggestion is don’t start any trouble and there may not be any. Don’t make eye contact with the crazies and the sexual predators and remain calm. No sniveling or weeping about the injustice of your arrest. You might be sitting next to someone who is looking at a life sentence who may not be too sympathetic to the injustice of your drunk driving charge.

My fourth suggestion is, never ask any stupid questions like: “Hey I got $200.00 in this here paper sack, anybody wanna play cards?” Or, “Hey what are you in here for?” Or what’s that tattoo on your stomach or neck mean?

Speaking of tattoos, although there are a great many tattoo artists in prison, there are very few in the County Jail. I’ve seen ink made by burning a plastic spoon and then collecting the smoke from a magazine held over the flame and then the soot is scraped off and added to water and viola tattoo ink is born. Then they take a very dirty staple from the magazine and sharpen it up on the filthy concrete floor and dip the staple into the ink and pierce your skin through a crudely drawn outline. I know in California they no longer allow cigarette smoking or matches in jail, but you’d be surprised what people can bring into the jail anyway.

My next suggestion is that if you must get a tattoo in the county jail, never let anyone tattoo you on your back. I once saw a guy ask for a mushroom on his back and the sadistic artist tattooed a penis on his back instead. It created quite a ruckus when he found out he was wearing a dick on his back for the foreseeable future.

Another important suggestion is to never back down from a fight. If you do, you will probably be doing Bubba’s laundry and you may be asked to perform some impure sexual favor for him as well.

I was always the worst boxer in the tank and sometimes the inmates would make me box other “lames” as we were called just for the entertainment of the real gangsters. Even though I fought like a sissy, I still maintained my virginity even though I would get an occasional bloody nose in the process.

If you are fortunate enough to have a sense of humor or a sharp wit, it always helps to keep them laughing because if they are entertained by your jokes, they are less likely to try to entertain themselves in some other perverted fashion. Good luck.


  1. Not a lotta reality shows looking at Kern County?

    1. Would you? Hell, I don't even live there anymore.