The Most Violent Stabbing I’ve Ever Seen

The Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla is notorious for riots, assaults, stabbings, and killings. So much blood has been spilled, that there is a section on the breezeway known as “blood alley”.

I was there for two years before I watched a man get stabbed three times in the neck.

It was a warm sunny day out in the five acre prison yard. I was walking the track, enjoying the weather. Troy comes up to me and says, “Keep an eye on Terry, he’s going down today.”

Troy is a shot caller (see: Prison Glossary) for the white boys. He’s not a violent man. Meaning, he doesn’t fight or commit acts of violence. He just controls the heroin. This gives him a high ranking within the prison hierarchy. He commits his violence by paying others to do his dirty work.

Today, the victim is Terry. A white boy who’s been down over ten years. He’s also in the dope game and ranks high in the prison hierarchy.

I know more than I should because both Troy and Terry were cellies of mine at different times.

As Terry walks past the phones, Troy says, “Hey brother, will you hold this phone for me?”

Terry says, “I sure will” as he takes the phone from Troy’s hand.

That’s the cue! Within seconds, a big strong hit-man had Terry pinned against the concrete wall. I was maybe fifteen feet away as I watched Terry get stabbed three times in the neck.

I thought I was going to see a beat-down. I had no idea I’d be watching an attempted murder.

The incident was an eye opener…to say the least. It showed me how fast people can turn on each other in here. Everyone involved all called each other “brother” at one point in time. Now they were trying to kill each other.

For a more detailed account of this incident, you can read Chapter 11 from my ebook, Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary.



Steven Jennings



  1. Hey man, I’m reading your stuff with interest. I can’t say “enjoying” it — more like a cold bath with a frayed electric wire in it. But real, as far as I can tell, which is what it’s all about.

    I want to get your impression of this guy who worked in the MA penal system. He set up an in-prison university and claims it had amazing results. 0% recidivism among graduates after more than 20 years. Almost hard to believe. Let me know what you think. Here’s a couple of links:

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I thank you for reading my blogs. I know I do cover a wide range of topics. Is there a particular subject that you’d be interested in reading from me?

    I’m afraid I am unable to watch those youtube links in here. An in-prison university w/a 0% recidivism? Wow! That is almost hard to believe. Intriguing. Sounds like he is a very empowering man with an amazing mind & heart. To start a project like that and have such results…I love to hear of things such as this. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry you can’t watch the videos. I transcribed the one on recidivism for you:

    Psychalive Features Dr. James Gilligan “Education Halts Recidivism”

    Renowned violence expert, Dr. James Gilligan, cites research which shows that, for prisoners, the one thing proven to prevent relapsing into criminal behavior is the act of obtaining a college degree while in prison.

    There are several things that we do know about this that I think are worth, ah, sharing. One is a study that we did in the Massachusetts prisons to find out what programs had been most effective in preventing recidivism, or reoffending, among prisoners after they left the prison and returned to the community. We found one program and only one that was 100% successful in preventing recidivism, and that was the prisoner getting a college degree while in prison. Um… For, oh, a 25- to 30-year period — actually it’s much more than 30 years now — ah… professors from Boston University and other local colleges and universities have been teaching courses in some of the Massachusetts prisons, for which the prisoners are granted degree… uh, degree-giving credits by the University. And, um… we followed several hundred prisoners who had received a Bachelor’s degree or in some cases a Master’s degree while in prison. We followed their performance after they left prison and returned to the community. Over a 25-year period we found not one individual who had committed a new crime and had been returned to prison. And I thought at first that we had just missed somebody. But then I discovered that the State of Indiana reported exactly the same result, that Folsom State Prison in California had reported the same result. Um… Then we extended the study to 30 years, and we found two people who had been returned to prison. But that was a recidivism rate well under 1%. Compare that with the average recidivism rate throughout the United States among the state prisons after people leave the prison: it’s 65% recidivism after 3 years. We’re talking about less than 1% over a 25-year to 30-year period.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Here’s a transcript from the second one:


    My experience with violent offenders is that they became violent because they felt overwhelmed by feelings of shame and humiliation. When I would ask them why they had assaulted somebody, for example, it was because that person had “disrespected me”. And they used that term so often that they… um… abbreviated it into the slang term “he dissed me,” uh… or dissed my mother or my girlfriend or whatever. And uh, I figure that anytime people use a word so often they abbreviate it, it tells you something about how central that is in their moral and emotional vocabulary.

    What is shame? Shame is the opposite of pride. If you think of pride as being self-love, shame is a lack of self-love. But children can’t learn to love themselves, to have self-love — meaning pride, feelings of self-esteem, feelings of self-worth, feelings of self-respect — unless they’ve been given some love, uh… from the parents who are raising them. The child who is unloved becomes incapable of loving himself, i.e., he is a shame-dominated personality whose life consists after that of a desperate attempt to gain some respect from others and some self-respect.

    What neglect does is it says to the child, “You are not even worth being angry at. You’re not even important enough for us to punish you. We’re just going to abandon you. We’re going to act as if you don’t even exist. You are off the radar screen of the world. I mean this is the most damaging single thing that a parent can do to a child. Um… It destroys self-esteem. There… Clearly there’s no love from the parent toward the child. The child’s self-image becomes one of, “I am unlovable. I am worthless. I am a throwaway child.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Its hard if you let it be hard. I try my best to treat others the way I’d like to be treated. As a result, I am respected. Nevertheless, guy’s moods can change so suddenly in here, a constant awareness is crucial. Thanks for the comment.


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