You've heard of prison wine. Now, there's prison Vine.
During our "Tech Behind Bars" investigation, we stumbled across a Vine user named "Acie Bandage," who posts six-second videos, set in what appears to be his prison cell, from a contraband smartphone. You're not allowed to Vine in prison, of course, and Acie Bandage is taking a huge risk by posting his short video creations to a public forum with his location set to "prison bathroom." (He seems to understand the risk; in all of the videos, his face remains covered by a bandage, and his eyes are hidden behind dark glasses.)
It's wild that an inmate is gutsy (or foolish) enough to broadcast his illegal social media activity. It's especially crazy given that Vine is one of the more public platforms around. Acie Bandage has only 386 followers as of today, but his Vines have a combined 188,742 loops. [Update: Acie Bandage appears to have disabled his Vine account, but we captured a few of his videos for posterity.]
Acie Bandage's first Vine was posted on November 1, 2013. It's a simple video of two inmates dancing in what looks like the platonic ideal of a prison cell: cinder-block walls, drab metal fixtures, bars above the door, uncovered toilet out in the open.
Since then, he has posted 90 more times – some revines of other people's posts, but mostly his own creations. Taken together, his body of work is a rare and fascinating portrait of what it's like to be in prison – and a glimpse of how prisoners stave off the boredom of life behind bars.
There's a lot of dancing.
A tour of his cell. ("This is not life," he says.)
Some exterior shots of his prison.
And even some instructional videos. Here, for instance, is how he cooks food in prison without a microwave. (The caption reads: "This what we use to warm food with. No Microwave/oven. So we create it with electricity , salt and water")
He even gets his friends in on the action.
Whoever Acie Bandage is (he didn't respond to a Vine DM before he deleted his account), he's a testament to the magnetic appeal of social media for those behind bars.
Still, given that possessing a cell phone in prison is a misdemeanor (at least) in most states, he's truly playing with fire. If he gets caught, he'll probably wish he'd gone with Snapchat instead.