As a prison inmate entering the penitentiary for the first time, it is with absolute certainty that you’ll have a feeling of fear, confusion, and anxiety. Hearing the cold sound of prison bars slamming and echoing hollers of prison guards as they escort you to your cell can be pretty intimidating for a new inmate.
Your survival instinct is the very first thing that will kick in once you step inside a penitentiary. So how can you and I survive in prison? The first step in survival is accepting responsibility.
You have two choices when entering prison. You can see it as a means of reform, a way to learn and improve your way of life and become a better person, or you can see it as a living hell. Prison is basically what you make of it.
Your survivability significantly increases as long as you follow prison rules and regulations and respect both the prison guards and your fellow inmates. Understand that you were sent to prison because you committed a crime. You have offended another individual and broken the law. Therefore, in the eyes of the world, you are a criminal and will be treated as such by prison officers and staff.
Nobody wants to be branded as a criminal. However, once you’re incarcerated, nothing you do at that point could change that fact. If you’re the type of inmate who gets angry at how the prison staff or guards treat you, get rid of that kind of attitude quickly.
You need to realize that prison is a form of punishment and not a venue for a leisure vacation. Accept the fact that you’ve committed a crime and you’re being sent to prison as punishment. In prison, make sure to choose your friends wisely. In making friends, choose someone who possesses a mature mentality, minds their own business, and religiously follows prison rules.
If you’ve been convicted of a non-violent crime or if you’re categorized as a non-violent criminal, it would be in your best interest if you can have your attorney request what they call “open custody.” Open custody is another word for minimum security. In other words, you should ask your lawyer to submit a request to prison officials on your behalf to be transferred to a minimum security prison. Inside a minimum security prison, you’ll be spending time with non-violent convicts like yourself. Nobody inside a minimum security prison will physically assault you for looking at them the wrong way or bully you out of your meal or telephone use. And even if there are, these kinds of inmates are quickly taken out of the general population and transferred to a maximum security facility.
Make an incessant request to be transferred to a minimum security prison as soon as possible. Most of the time, prison staff would tell you that there’s a 30-day waiting period before these kinds of requests are evaluated and approved. Ignore it. Have your appointed attorney keep making requests or calls until they approve and make the transfer.
Hang around inmates who keep out of trouble, attend religious services, or have productive hobbies. Make friends but stay totally independent. Steer clear of instigators who ask you for help with their altercations with other inmates.
Respect is of utmost importance during incarceration. Nobody is denying the fact that prison is prison and conflicts are unavoidable. In fact, conflicts happen twice as often in prison than in any other place. If you come across a fellow inmate who’s giving you a hard time, talk to that person in a respectful, mano-a-mano way.
Also try your best to avoid conflict with other inmates. If it is your first time going to prison and you still don’t know what’s what, let the other inmates get away with lying, cheating, and bullying. Do not, in any way, challenge an inmate’s or prison gang’s control of any particular area of the prison. In prison, there are unwritten laws that must be followed; it would be in your best interest to learn about these.
Obey these rules even if they sound silly. Do not touch or take anyone’s stuff. Don’t be too loud and speak only when spoken to. Respect is of utmost importance in prison. Disrespecting someone in prison would most likely result in a riot. Believe it when you are told that you don’t want to be in the middle of a riot. Riots will almost always result in an inmate’s death, either by the hands of another inmate or by the correctional officers trying to subdue them.
Do not feed into the prisoner’s hostile nature. Walk away if need be. There is absolutely nothing wrong with walking away from a fight. Do not, even for a second, think that you’re a coward for doing so. Remember, it takes more will-power to stand down from a fight than to go in with fists flying.
Gossip is another dangerous thing that you should avoid in prison. Majority of prison fights start over baseless gossips. Everything moves slowly in prison, making inmates bored out of their wits. They find gossip to be the next best thing to do. Avoid these types of inmates at all costs.
Finally, keep in mind that knowledge is power. Spend your time in prison productively by reading various books, magazines, or newspapers. Some prisons offer educational programs where inmates are able to get a degree by the time they finish their prison sentence. Also try to get your loved ones or anybody who’s close and important to you to send you photos and letters. Keeping in contact with the outside world does a lot of good when it comes to a prisoner’s mental health.
Get your family and friends to come and visit you from time to time. Doing this will definitely help you keep your morale high. In addition, this will make the prison officials think that you are part of a healthy community instead of being somebody whom everybody hates. This increases your chance of getting a parole and being integrated back into society.
So can you and I survive in prison? Yes, of course.