How Prisoners Make Joints and Pipes

By Seth Ferranti 08/31/12

Bibles in prison aren't just for reading, insiders tell The Fix.

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Inmates have their own views on
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When prisoners obtain some marijuana or K2 it's not like they can go down to the local store and buy a pack of rolling papers or Black and Mild to roll up and freak their spliff. And nowadays in the Bureau of Prisons and other state systems, tobacco and rolling papers aren't sold on commissary, so finding ways to smoke can be a challenge. But of course, it can be done. "You can use the wrapping from a roll of toilet paper to roll a joint. It works real good," one prisoner tells The Fix. Although, "In some prisons they remove the wrapping before they hand out the toilet paper because they know we use it to roll joints." Another method is more provocative: "Pages from a Bible work real good. The only problem is there is no sticky part on the paper so you have to lick the joint real good, so the paper will stick and not fall apart when it burns." Bibles are readily available in prison and the light, crinkly paper lends itself to rolling joints. And most prisoners aren't bothered by the idea of being sacrilegious.

Making a pipe is also an easy option; prisoners just need a soda pop can. "If I'm trying to fire up using a pipe, or I can't get any paper to roll the weed, I get a Coke can, crush the middle and poke holes in the side and boom: instant pipe," says one. "Some dudes get metal plumping fixings out of facilities and make pipes like that also. The come up with some crazy smoking pipes. You just have to be creative." And to spark the joint up, prisoners use two batteries and a little aluminum-coated paper strip—just like what Hershey Bars are wrapped in: "That paper works real good, but you can also use little wires, just put it between the batteries with one end on the positive and the other on the negative and you get a spark, which will light your joint or a piece of paper which you can light the pipe with." It isn't easy—probably not even possible—to stop prisoners getting high.

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After landing on the US Marshals Top-15 Most Wanted list and being sentenced to a 25 year sentence in federal prison for a first-time, nonviolent LSD offense, Seth built a writing and journalism career from his cell block. His raw portrayals of prison life and crack era gangsters graced the pages of Don DivaHoopshype and VICE. From prison he established Gorilla Convict, a true-crime publisher and website that documents the stories that the mainstream media can’t get with books like Prison Stories and Street Legends. His story has been covered by The Washington PostThe Washington Times, and Rolling Stone.

Since his release in 2015 he’s worked hard to launch GR1ND Studios, where true crime and comics clash. GR1ND Studios is bringing variety to the comic shelf by way of the American underground. These groundbreaking graphic novels tell the true story of prohibition-era mobsters, inner-city drug lords, and suburban drug dealers. Seth is currently working out of St. Louis, Missouri, writing for The FixVICEOZY, Daily Beast, and Penthouse and moving into the world of film. Check out his first short, Easter Bunny Assassin at You can find Seth on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.