I had never heard the term ‘Dry Snitching’ before coming to prison, but the concept is very clear, it’s indirect tattling. Dry snitching is telling on someone in an oblique, round about way. That may sound low key or not a big deal, but trust me when I say that dry snitching will get you hurt, it is fucking hell. If you do this, you are ratting.
Let’s say you’re not supposed to have pillows in your cell and some pig jams you up, takes your pillow, but no one elses. You, feeling indignant and entitled then barks at the cop, ”why are you taking just mine when everyone has a pillow!” You just dry snitched on everyone. Or the cop is looking for a broom and you innocently inform him, ”oh it’s in Joe’s room”…sounds like nothing but who knows what was in that room and you just sent the cop there.
In the feds we have emailing and phone usages. Both of these things are always very heavily monitored. A slimey and accidental way to snitch on someone in the feds is to email your family or friends about something going on here. You aren’t officially telling the cops but you are 100% snitching. Like if you were hating on someone’s hustle and you emailed your partner that so and so is hustling back onions or something from the kitchen. That dude would get hit for that guaranteed. Ratting. That can seem harmless and just sharing shit with your family, but it could get the kitchen dude jammed up. We can always avoid accidentally dry snitching such as above by MINDING OUR OWN BUSINESS. Staying in our own lane. This is so important and crucial in prison. It isn’t a game. It can prevent so many potentially ugly situations.
Recently I heard of a prisoner purposely dry snitching and it broke my heart and made me feel sick to my stomach at the exact same time. This person apparently felt unsafe with his cell mate, and thought he was in danger. This fucking sucks and is an ugly reality of prison. We have all been there. Being a Political Prisoner doesn’t make you immune to the daily grime, violence, and ugliness of prison. No one is going to hand you a pass. We exist and function in the same reality as everyone else, to think or expect otherwise is classist and gross. Our friend had a handful of options: he could have spoken with and maybe caught problems with his cellmate, could have tried to switch cells, he could have checked in (checking in is when you go to the cops and say you are unsafe and are put in Protective Custody in segregation), whatever. He chose what should have been a non-option. Either by email or phone our friend hit up his loved ones and told them in monitored communication that he was in danger FROM HIS CELL MATE. He did this knowing that he would get rescued by the guards, this was not an accident. This wasn’t his first day in prison. That is ratting. He may have never have taken the stand in a courtroom, but he just put evidence against his cellmate and got them put under investigation.. he may as well have had a fucking badge on.
Think of the serious implications of doing this. What if that dude had a weapon or drugs on his property and he got searched or the room got searched, that is extra YEARS to his sentence! What if he was close to transferring closer to home, that would be out of the question now, or if he had a visit coming up, a child’s birthday or something like that. Your tattling just robbed this person of that chance to be free for that moment, you just took on the role-no matter how intentionally- of being the police. Your fear was more important than oppressing another human. He may as well have ratted on a comrade or been the person who told the cops where I was staying when I got arrested, that is how it felt to me. There is no excuse for this from anyone, let alone someone that espouses anti-oppression, pro-liberation. Our fear does not give us permission to snitch. You can be proactive in your safety without telling on others. No one in the free world gives a fuck about checking in. By doing this our friend got a safe transfer an an easy yard where no one will check his paper work to see what happened, but if he had got sent to another serious joint, he would have had tons to answer for, no one needs or wants those problems. If you believe and live a life of anti-oppression, anti-authority, etc. etc., you cannot tell on other people to better your own situation, at least not in my mind.
On the flip side of all of that, while in pre-trial there may be people who will try and rat on you if they can, hoping to lessen their own sentence at your expense. This is called ”jumping on someone’s ship”, i.e. ”Josh jumped on Noah’s ship”, just to use two random names. This person goes to the states attorney and says they will become the states evidence against you so that they can reduce their sentence. It is something I faced at CCA when I was there. When my plea deal was all but signed my lips got loose and it was brought to my attention that one of the cats I was cool with was trying to talk to them people about getting a reduction, telling them things about me. This made me feel like a fucking cold chump for letting my guard down, for believing in some romanticized ‘convict’s code’. There is an inherent desire to talk to people, to share things, maybe to posture and brag. But pre-trial we need to be so careful with the information we chose to share and who we share it with. The pigs will go to nasty lengths to jam you up, and people get very desperate to shave time off their own sentences. Everyone inside is not our friends, sometimes smiles hide fangs.