April 18th, 2011
11:23 AM ET
Former “Prison Break” actor Lane Garrison found himself locked up in real life after he was convicted of vehicular manslaughter in 2007.
Garrison opened up on the “Today” show Monday about what life was like behind bars.
“You have to trust that one of these guys, when you close your eyes, isn’t just going to wake up in the middle of the night, pull you off your rack and beat you with a lock or stab you,” Garrison, who was shuffled between eight prisons during his sentence, recalled.
“If you speak to anyone who’s ever done time, the fact that you make it out of there alive is a miracle. It’s like a bomb went off inside; it’s your worst nightmare,” he told “Today’s” Matt Lauer. “Your hardcore gang members are there, and the guards are pretty hard there as well. I probably saw about 300 fights; I had a bunkie who was killed; I saw people stabbed.”
Garrison believes the reason he wasn’t harmed was because of a “guardian angel.”
“I’d be sitting there on the yard and someone sitting right next to me would literally just get clocked and I was never touched,” he recalled. “It’s by the grace of God that I’m sitting here with you today.”
Nonetheless, Garrison said he “100 percent” needed to be behind bars.
The actor was 26 when he decided to attend a high-school party that led to a fatal car crash. He had some drinks before climbing into a car with three teens, and according to “Today,” his blood-alcohol level was double the legal limit. Garrison crashed into a tree, killing a 17-year-old passenger.
That night “was a night of bad decisions. I had two drinks, downed two shots…bottom line, I should’ve never been at that party; I should’ve never had drinks in my system; I should’ve never drove,” Garrison said.
“I think for me I’d been through so much; I’d just lost both my parents, and I felt like, nothing else bad can happen. The message is simple here – with drinking and driving, most people don’t have an intent to hurt somebody, but it happens and it can happen to anybody.”
Garrison was released on good behavior in 2009, and said he’s speaking out now to help others learn from his mistakes.
“I grew up learning from a father who said when you make a mistake or you make a bad decision, you man up and take responsibility. The minute I decided to plead guilty was the minute that everything changed in my life,” the actor, who has appeared on NBC’s “The Event,” told Lauer. “Going through 8 prisons, I never thought I’d make it out to see another set. I’m fortunate enough to get a second chance when a young man doesn’t have one, so I’m going to make the most of it.”
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