RUSSIAN PRISONS SCARE THE SHIT OUT OF ME

By JAMES TENAFLY

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If you're the sort of person easily riveted by Cops, there's a decent chance you know--or will soon know--the mesmeric effect of a good prison show. For the uninitiated, quality here is determined by the degree of fear instilled by a given prison or show. Prisons with lots of gangs and violent offenders typically provide a high level of entertainment. That said, even the pedestrian and often sub-Cops drama on a show like Jail can fix up a prison show junkie pretty good. Take this recent clip where some longhair in Portland starts Jud-Judding his way through the KISS catalog:

No, you wouldn't want to hang with this hombre IRL for very long, but he's a shrimp compared to the Freddy Kruegers on Lockup:

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On days when you're feeling numb to the effects of normal prison drama, it's time to shoot the good stuff you've been saving up: that rainy-day link you've been holding on to so long you think it might've gone bad but, sure enough, it's even better than you remembered:

Yes, the Russian prison documentary. Much rarer than your standard American TV fare, there's little in this world scarier than an overcrowded Russian prison. Brimming with gangs divided by weird, regional, and ethnic distinctions the rest of the world can only half-understand, Russian prisons make American penitentiaries look like Science Museum lock-ins. The documentary above, Mark of Cain by Alix Lambert, uses inmate tattoos as an entry point into the life of Russian prisoners--which basically consists of eating gruel, getting beat up, freezing, and getting inked up with your own urine. Go to the 45 minute mark for the pee part.

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