The convict code and the beltway

Abbie Hoffman wrote the first book in this definitive series. He called it "Steal This Book" and it was described as a guide to living outside the system.

Behind BarsKevin Kelly's Cool Tools has a review of the book every Washington Beltway insider needs, "Behind Bars: Surviving Prison." If Karl Rove, Valerie Plame or Flame, Joseph Wilson, Dick Cheney, Judith Miller, Robert Novak or Scooter Libby are on your Christmas list, you may want to buy early to avoid the rush.

Some timely advice from the book:

  • The first thing you need to remember [if arrested] is keep your mouth shut and do not discuss your arrest or case with anyone, police or fellow inmates.
  • Whomever you call, never discuss your case on the phone. Any admission of guilt will be used against you in court. Let us repeat: Any admission of guilt will be used against you in court.
  • The same warning applies to mail, both sent or received, which will be opened and copied by jail staff. Remember, you have no privacy in jail, and every word you say, phone call you make, or letter you write, can be used in court to make a case against you or drum up additional indictments against you or others.
  • Yes, you have a Constitutional right to a fair trial, but if you exercise that right and lose the case, the prosecution most likely will demand severe sentencing penalties, in return for your having made them take the case to trial.

Anyone inside the Beltway will have problems with the convict code.

The Convict Code

  • Mind your own business
  • Watch what you say
  • Be loyal to convicts as a group
  • Play it cool
  • Be sharp
  • Be honorable
  • Do your own time
  • Be tough
  • Be a man
  • Pay your debts
  • Snitch on another convict
  • Pressure another convict
  • Lose your head
  • Attract attention
  • Exploit other convicts
  • Break your word