The following tips will be useful to you when you try to figure out how to survive in a foreign prison. Prison life is tough as it is but surviving a prison in another country is a totally different kind of animal. The following information will be more than helpful to you.
Maintain a Congenial Attitude
Don’t show off, brag, or become haughty – a congenial attitude will eventually keep you safe. However, pay attention that you don’t look weak in front of the other inmates or else they will pick on you. Take time to exercise, read, socialize (but be picky about befriending other inmates). Try to learn as much of local language as you can – some locals will appreciate that.
Know the Who’s Who in the Neighborhood
Remember that every prison is a community in itself. Learn who the gang leaders are and who belongs to which gang. Figure out who are the go-to people for certain occasions. Learn the rules of the prison and the unwritten rules of the inmates.
Be Loyal to Your Race
Most inmates will naturally segregate themselves as soon as they’re in. Expect to be approached by gangs of a certain race – but remember that you’re not expected to join any gang unless you want to. Make friends with people of the same race.
Never Join Gangs
Prison gang members usually end up fighting other gangs. You don’t want to get mixed up with that in a foreign country. You also paint yourself as a special target for members of other prison gangs.
Remember that gangs are usually segregated by race or creed. However, that may not always be the case. In case you’re the only white guy or black dude in a Latino prison, you can get “adopted” of sorts. Note that you may still feel like the odd man out if you join a gang of a different race.
Figure out how things are done in the prison you’re in. Most of the time, you don’t really have to join any gang. Some of the inmates may even get curious about where you’re from and you will be an interesting resource for them to learn something and pass the time.
Keep Up on the Hygiene
Take every opportunity to shower and clean up. You may not have plenty of chances to do that in foreign prisons. There are foreign prison gangs who pick on other inmates simply because they’re unhygienic. Go with the flow, if it’s time for you to shower then shower.
Here’s another important thing you should remember – in case you need to take a dump, remember to take your trousers and underwear off. You don’t want to be ambushed in the Johnny’s room with your pants down. It will be easier to defend yourself without any bottom garments on than getting tripped by your own underwear.
Practice a lot of Patience
If time seems to move slowly in local prisons, everything will seem like a lifetime in a foreign prison. The guards won’t be in a rush to do anything for you even if you are a foreigner. Some prison staff may even treat you poorly simply because you’re a stranger in a foreign land – and a convict at that. You’ll do a lot of waiting, standing in queues, and a lot of other things that will test your mettle.
You will see a varied mix of attitudes inside prison. Some inmates will be curious as to who you are and where you’re from. There will be those who will be sympathetic. However, at the other end of the spectrum, there will also be inmates who will think little of you and what you have to offer.
Maintain Communication from Home
Remember to establish and maintain communication lines with home as much as it is permitted. Note that some foreign prisons will allow different types or modes of communication. Some will allow fewer communication opportunities depending on the severity of your case. This will be a big moral boost; it will also signal to other inmates that you are someone important, which may help you avoid a lot of conflict.
Cooperate with Everyone or at Least Be Agreeable
Cooperate with the protocol inside the prison system. If they need to do a psych evaluation, then cooperate with the person interviewing you. If your cellmate asks a favor then try to help as much as you can but avoid becoming an accomplice to another crime – if you disagree with what other inmates are doing it will help to turn a blind eye than report the incident to the guards.
Listen More, Talk Less
Some prisoners will love to talk to you especially if they’re interested in the things you have in the country. Some will also love to talk about themselves and the things about their country. Remember to answer only the questions they ask you. Listen more, gather intel. You should also remember to never divulge the nature of the crime you have committed especially if it involved a child or a woman – you will get the worst treatment.
Be Extra Aware of What’s Happening
It doesn’t matter if you’re in the yard, gym, lunch hall, or the toilet, you should be aware of the things that are happening. Be especially aware of non-verbal cues sent from one inmate to the other.
If ever you notice that something terrible is about to happen you should make it a point to leave the area as soon as it is possible. However, try to leave inconspicuously.
Don’t Get Mixed Up in Anything Illegal
The worst thing you can do while trying to survive in a foreign prison is to get mixed up in illegal transactions that are going on. When inmates start to pass some weed around, remember that you’re not obligated to hide it in your bunk or pillow.
Getting caught will prolong your sentence. The local prison guards will not look kindly at the fact that you’re aiding the local prisoners with illegal activities. You may end up worrying about what the guards will do to you as well.