The Marshall Project

It’s Surprisingly Tough to Avoid Snitching in Prison

“Snitches get stitches.”

It’s principle number one of the Convict Code, the fabled law of honor among thieves. When I first entered the system, I figured avoiding snitching would be easy. How hard could it be not to betray your friends?

One day a buddy of mine named Koby assaulted Chris, a middle-aged man with a Hitler mustache, for changing the channel on the TV without consulting the so-called podfathers running the area. By the time Koby returned from the Hole—a.k.a. solitary—guards had moved Chris to another block.

“That bitch snitched on me,” Koby complained. His skin was sallow from months of sun deprivation. I snorted involuntarily. He glowered at me.

“That’s true, but I thought snitching was when we do something together, and one of us rats to get a deal from prosecutors,” I said. “I mean, you’ve been

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