The Fear of 13

Synopsis: A convicted murderer who has spent 23 years on Death Row tells his story.
Director(s): David Sington
  1 win & 4 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
96 min

This programme contains some strong language

and scenes which some viewers may find upsetting.


This is the strangest one.

Do you know that the worst part

and yet the best part of being

in solitary confinement is

time can be a blisteringly fast


where in the blink of an eye,

you can look, and ten years

are gone from your life.

But the next week is agony.

It's like you

look at your wristwatch

and instead of there being a face,

there's a calendar and it flips.

But then,

if you look out the window,

it takes all day for that

sun to go down.


I always wanted to tell

somebody that.

We got into the prison

about 11.00am.

They took all the other

prisoners off this bus

and then four men came on.

They lined up against this red brick


.. and here comes Lieutenant Borner.

He walked right up to me,

right up to my face - he was

like very quiet, like...

"There's no speaking in my prison.

"Dead men do not speak in my prison,

especially. Do you understand me?"

Just like that, same tone of voice.

Nothing raised, nothing threatening.

And that Lord quietness... I did,

I went to answer. I was like, "B... "

Backhanded me right in the mouth.

It like stung like you

wouldn't believe.


And then I was thrown into this

world where there's no sunlight

and it's deadly silent.

You see, the Pennsylvania prison

system was developed by the Quakers.

The doors were cut low, so you had

to stoop and bow to go into them...

.. and while you were in the cell,

you were meant not to communicate.

It was part of your punishment.

And it was eerie,

because of almost 140 men at

the time in B Block, no-one spoke.

You'd hear them cough or urinate

and flush the toilet

but there was no real sound.

And that was the worst for me,

especially the first

couple of months.

You still can hear your mother

crying at the trial.

You can still smell the aftershave

on the witnesses, man -

I mean, like it's just every little

detail's just eating your life,

because you've just been put here.

The door was just still ringing

in your ears cos of the slam

and you're just left there,

and you're like...


And yet, like, you don't

come to your door

and talk to a neighbour,

cos if you broke the speaking rule,

you were struck or

beaten by the guards.

In level five,

you were allowed to exercise

in these dog-kennel like cages,

19 feet long, ten feet wide.

You got an hour to

exercise by yourself,

cos you were a death-row prisoner.

But the guards, being pricks -

if you had a problem with another

guy, and they knew you were enemies,

they'd put you in a cage

together, knowing that

as soon as they'd walked off a few


you two were going to go at it.

And if that didn't work,

they simply picked out two big guys,

and put them in together.

And they had some fun.

Usually it was a white guy

with a black guy,

Spanish guy with a black guy,

Spanish guy with a white guy.

Gladiatoring, they called it.


The shower was the most

vulnerable time.

If you were going to get somebody,

that's the place to get them.

You got access to them, there's no

handcuffs, and they're naked.


I had only been there a few days

and I walked into the shower

and just as I turned the corner,

there was a Puerto Rican boy

and he had sharpened

a pork chop bone

and then stabbed this man

in the back of the liver with it and

the guy started flopping, and then

they just cut all the water off

and just beat all six of us senseless

and drug us back out of the shower.

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Submitted on August 05, 2018


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"The Fear of 13" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 28 May 2020. <>.

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