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What Honey Buns Tell Us About Prison Culture

Jan 13, 2011

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Reported by

Scott Cameron

We talk about prison life and culture from time to time on the show. We've never talked about honey buns. From what I read in a recent article in the St. Petersburg Times, we've missed a key element.

Honey buns — so puffy! — have taken on lives of their own among the criminal class: as currency for trades, as bribes for favors, as relievers for stress and substitutes for addiction. They've become birthday cakes, hooch wines, last meals — even ingredients in a massive tax fraud.

It's a feature piece, to be sure, but it's far from fluff. The story is a fascinating look into a world most of us will never experience. The sweet treats cost $1.08 in one Florida canteen. And prison food is basic, at best, so you can understand the cravings for something a bit more decadent, as a honey bun spokesperson calls it. But, there's also a darker side to the honey bun fixation.

For all their sweetness, honey buns have a history of involvement in prison violence. In 2006, at the Kent County Jail in Michigan, inmate Benny Rochelle dragged his cell mate off the top bunk, killing the man, when he could not find his honey bun. And last year, at the Lake Correctional Institution west of Orlando, two men were sentenced to life in prison for stabbing with crude shivs the man they thought had stolen shaving cream, cigarettes and a honey bun from their footlockers.

You can read the full article at the St. Petersburg Times site.

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