For a first-time offender, being sentenced for years feels as if the world is crashing down on you. The feeling of dread at the separation from family, friends, and of being alone, creeps in. As you are led away, your spirit breaks.
However, it is at this first step towards confinement when you need to adopt a positive attitude and keep your spirit up to survive. Keeping your spirit up may seem tough. Nevertheless, the prime objective now is to learn how to survive in a Maryland Department of Correction facility for the duration of your sentence without any untoward incident. You can survive if you observe and respect the culture inside.
Maintain your sanity
Consider prison as a state of mind. Conditions inside the Maryland Department of Correction are stressful and will test your endurance. However, if you are committed to your goal of surviving your time, you can withstand all difficulties inside. It is best, therefore, to be mindful of the following guides:
•Never call attention to yourself. Inside the prison, all kinds of offenders surround you and will size you up. Stay away from gangs and other trouble-inviting activities like drugs and gambling. Do not show arrogance; humility will serve you well. Study the inmates’ culture and do not give in to their hostility; manage your anger instead. To be safe, stay away from the general population.
•Be respectful and diplomatic. These are not signs of weakness but strategies for survival. Remember, you are among convicted offenders with all sorts of attitudes. There may be instances where an inmate takes offense for no reason at all. Be respectful and careful with your language and tone of voice, explain the situation, and calmly leave the scene. Walking away from a potential hostile situation is not a sign of cowardice but a sign of strength. Being respectful and diplomatic also applies to the authorities inside, as was discovered firsthand by those who now know how to survive in a Maryland Department of Correction facility.
•Fill your time with activities. Indulging in activities will keep you out of trouble and your mind off depressing thoughts. Have a regular exercise routine to keep your body fit and your energy up. Volunteer in the clinic or library. You may also attend classes.
•Maximize time by getting an education. Check the courses offered at the Maryland Department of Correction and register for classes. An education becomes useful when seeking employment upon release as companies ask for degree or certificates. Added education and training can also provide options in the outside world.
•Stay healthy. A healthy mind follows a healthy body. Follow a regular exercise routine and avoid overdoing it just to pass the time. Eat heartily. Supplement prison food with food from the canteen. Request your family and friends to provide you with cash you can spend for food and medication. When sick, submit a request for treatment.
Stay in touch with the outside world
For first time offenders, incarceration does not only mean punishment for the offense but being cut off from the outside world. However, staying connected with your family, friends, and the outside community will help keep you sane and focused on your objective of surviving for the duration of your sentence.
•Connect with your family. Being separated from your family does not mean giving up on the role as husband and father. The partner feels the strain of the separation due to the deprivation of financial and filial support once enjoyed. The children, on the other hand, feel the anxiety and a sense of loss.
Therefore, staying connected with your family shows assurance that you are still around to listen to your wife and children, available to give guidance whenever possible. Explain your situation to the children to lessen their anxieties and insecurities.
•Connect with your friends. Call your friends or write them letters and request that they reciprocate. Connecting with your friends makes you feel that you are still part of the community and gives you hope. This has the added advantage of letting the guards know you are still part of the outside community and not totally isolated.
•Connect with the outside world. Request family members and friends to send you newspapers and magazines to keep you updated with what is going on outside prison walls. Spend time in the prison library to read worthwhile books.
Reentry to the outside community
Surviving prison life does not only mean knowing how to survive in a Maryland Department of Correction facility. It’s also about planning your life outside of prison when you eventually gain your freedom. Experience changes man; your experiences inside the prison walls make you a different person. Your family and friends would have changed, as well. You need to deal with these changes and help your family and friends deal with your rejoining the community.
Plan your reentry to society a few weeks before your scheduled release. Preparing will help you cope with the challenges you will face upon your release, such as, housing, employment, relationships, depression, and frustrations.
•Search for community organizations and get involved in community programs and activities. This will help you reintegrate in your community and occupy your otherwise idle time at home. Involvement in community activities is a venue for you to practice talking with people and learning about your community.
•Do not hesitate to ask your friends and community organizations for help in seeking employment. They can provide you with vital information with regards housing or point you to friendly companies who are not afraid to provide second chances to offenders.
•Be patient with yourself and with others. Things take time to happen and while waiting, use your time productively. Open yourself to other opportunities, think of another goal and work on it, exercise to keep your spirit up, go to a place where you can have some ‘alone time.’ Explain to you family why you need your ‘alone time’ occasionally.
•There will be good friends and acquaintances willing to help you cope with living in the community. Remember to reciprocate their kindness in any way you can. Show your appreciation and respect and they will be willing to help you, or at least point you to others who can assist you in your problems.