Prison life: sugar mamas, Facebook, and cigarettes

When his friend’s sugar mama didn’t send $25 as expected, Gideon knew it would lead to trouble. Gideon and his friend had been using the sugar mama’s money to buy tobacco, and they already had the latest batch in hand. They knew they would have to pay for it.

Gideon isn’t sure why the sugar mama didn’t come through, but he doesn’t think she simply refused to send the money. “I think that’s part of being a sugar mama,” he said. “You can’t get tired of sending it.”

Since they already had the tobacco, Gideon and his friend were obligated to pay the $25. Gideon  convinced his mother to send the money, but not without causing tension with her.

Sugar mama drama 

According to Gideon, quite a few inmates have sugar mamas (i.e., women on the outside who send them money). Gideon’s friend has several. Some sugar mamas were girlfriends or significant others before their men went to prison.

If an inmate doesn’t have a sugar mama before being locked up, he can get one by using a smuggled smart phone to look up potential benefactors on Facebook. Once logged in to the world’s largest social media site, inmates find old friends, classmates, and others they knew on the outside. Many inmates don’t even have to look for people on Facebook; people find them.


Sugar mama drama has put an end to Gideon’s smoking habit.

Several inmates have encouraged Gideon to use Facebook to find a sugar mama. “There’s good money in it,” he said. Gideon has never seen Facebook or any other social media website, and he isn’t interested in getting a sugar mama. “I wouldn’t want to do this time with a woman,” the lifer explained.

Gideon doesn’t know why women—or anyone else—outside prison would want to send money to convicts they barely know, especially when they get nothing from it. “Some people are into that,” he quipped.

Most phones are sneaked in by guards and sold to inmates, while others are brought in by inmates who work outside the prison. The inmates are not searched when they return from work, so taking in contraband is easy.

Extinguishing the fire 

Gideon didn’t want to be let down by a sugar mama again and be put in another bad spot, so he decided to quit smoking. He smoked his last cigarette one week ago today. He was afraid the lack of nicotine would send him into withdrawal, but that hasn’t happened so far. The desire for a smoke remains, but he hasn’t experienced the sweating, nausea, headaches, or cramping associated with nicotine withdrawal.

For years, the tips of Gideon’s fingers have been burned and calloused from lighting cigarettes. Inmates aren’t allowed to have lighters, so they use batteries and wire ties (similar to those on loaves of bread) to light their smokes, resulting in burned fingers. Gideon’s marks have already started to heal, and he hopes they will be gone in another week.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s