Alpha Male Ryan: Daily Routine Hell.

Outside of going outside on a work crew, prison life can be tedious and monotonous, Alpha Male Ryan says. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

Editor’s Note: In their book “Behind Bars: Surviving Prison,” authors and criminologists Jeffrey Ian Ross and Stephen C. Richards write about the monotony of prison life — inmates who follow the same routines, day after day, of meals, work, rec time outside, and count.
“Everyone goes through the same routine upon arrival in prison,” the authors write — and then they settle into a habitual routine that lasts through their entire period of incarceration.
“If you’re smart, you’ll avoinding thinking about all the other, near-identical days of confinement stretching ahead of you, the weeks, the months, and years,” the authors note. “That way lies madness.”
Alpha Male Ryan spent 20 months doing time in a Florida prison. He admits that because of his personality, it wasn’t easy coping behind bars. Those who can adjust more easily to a fairly mechanical daily routine, he added, have a much easier time making the adjustment from freedom on the outside to life in a cell.

If you’re a creature of habit, you would have done all right in prison. You can sort of just run on autopilot.
Like me, sometimes I pretended I was in a POW camp, where you got no choice and you’ve got to suck it up. You’ve got to pretend you’re not there.
So if you can fall into some kind of pattern, it makes it a little bit easier.
You can shut your brain off to your surroundings and go on autopilot, and go by habit.
The inmates who existed this way, they were just robots. They didn’t have much personality. They woke up, rolled out of bed, made a cup of instant coffee, shaved — just about everybody shaves every morning. Some people read their Bible, then wait for their number to be called and go to work. Some people go to breakfast in the morning.
I didn’t operate that way.
When I went in there, I was hoping to just fly under the radar, just keep on moving — but that didn’t happen, because I got my hands dirty in there. I guess I’m a stereotypical example of what happens when you take a non-criminal and put him into prison. You take a good guy and turn him into sh*t.
I had to improvise, adapt and overcome, as the Marines put it. I never allowed myself to fall into a routine. For one thing, what I was doing — fighting with people — you can never let down your guard. So I never let myself fall into a routine.
If they know you wake up every morning at 8, then they can say “We know he gets up at 8 every morning” and they can go get you before 8. So I would never get up at the same time.
If you don’t belong in prison, they shouldn’t send you there. They should use other methods of punishment. I don’t care who you are, if you walk in there with clean hands, you’re going to walk out of there with dirty hands.
Because if you don’t follow a routine, you have to be an anarcist. You have to be a rebel.
I was a leader, not a follower.
I was determined not to be a little pawn.

Contact Alpha Male Ryan at

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