How do prisoners actually find out about their fellow inmates' crimes? I'd think there'd have to be some sort of outside source involved. Do guards slip out inmate's info to other inmates?
Yeah. When you get to prison you get a little sheet that says all your stuff on it, including what you are there for. People will look at your sheet or steal it if they don't believe you. Word spreads fast, and guards could care less about stopping people from learning what those bastards did.
(Don't ask me how I know all this.)*
* I saw a tv special on it once.
You're right, all the info is available. Plus the court cases can be looked up in the law library unless the specific case is sealed. The law libraries in prison can be just as good as any so it's available.
Also most prisons use inmates for garbage detail, cleaning, all sorts of things where they have access to info. Many times they know info about what's going on in the prison before all the guards find out*
*I'd reveal my source but the CO is looking over my shoulder.