A first time offender entering the Idaho Department of Correction facility may be filled with misgivings and mixed feelings of fear, anxiety, and confusion. It is scary to know that for the next few years, you will be among other offenders, wondering how you will survive for the duration that you will be serving your time.
Surviving in a prison facility is never easy. But, if you adhere to survival strategies, you may serve your time without incidence.
Stay and fight, or run and live
Man has the innate instinct of self-preservation. Harness this instinct to survive inside the correctional. Try to observe what goes on inside and learn to read signs and events that are most likely to lead to trouble. When you sense one, do not rationalize and leave the scene.
Try to avoid the crowd. You might have the mistaken notion of protecting yourself by joining gangs, doing drugs, and gambling. This notion will likely lead you to disaster than survival. Most fatal incidents happen to gang members. Having a friend is good for company as you still need social contact. However, choose one who shares the same sentiments and dreams as yours; one who can help you survive inside.
Keep yourself busy during the day by doing volunteer work in the prison clinic, workshops, or in the library. There are penitentiaries that offer allowances for inmates who work for specific hours. The pay you receive allows you to buy healthy food not available in the prison canteen and for other personal necessities.
Preserve your health
Food inside the correctional is not that palatable. You can supplement this with food in the canteen. Therefore, be sure to have a little amount of cash with you before you enter the Idaho Department of Correction facility or have some provided by members of your family. There is food sold in the canteen rich in minerals and vitamins. You need your body to be healthy and strong to endure time inside the correctional. Remember to drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated.
Do daily exercises. There are exercises that you can do inside the cell or on prison grounds. Exercise will give you the strength and fitness you need. Doing your daily exercise or a couple or more times a week is a worthy outlet to while away the hours and a healthy way to get rid of stress and depression.
Engage in sporting activities whenever you can. You can participate in sports like basketball or do a mile-run within the prison ground. The Correctional usually has a gym where you can do workouts or weight lifting. These activities are good stress relievers.
Just as you need physical fitness, being mentally fit is equally necessary to survive during incarceration. Caution is necessary, particularly when an inmate beside you or a cellmate would behave in unpredictable ways. Behaviors that trigger fear, anxiety, anger and other emotions in you will appear threatening to them. Control and hide your emotions. If inmates interpret your reactions as a weakness, they will use this weakness to control and manipulate you. On the other hand, if you show anger you play into their hands.
There is not much to do inside prison, therefore, expect days when you feel bored, lonely, full of self-pity, and depressed. Talk to a trusted friend inside, read positive books, find people who think the same way you do and associate with them. Whatever your feelings are, always stay positive and believe in yourself. Believe that the day will come when you reunite with your family.
Feed your mind
Do a lot of reading inside the correctional. Read newspapers, magazines, and books from the prison library. Reading will keep your sanity as well as provide you information on current events or general information. It may help you deal with the difficult situations you encounter inside.
Furthermore, keeping yourself informed might just help you when you have served your time. The information you get from reading can help you plan your life outside the correctional. Such plan includes getting an education and earning a degree or a certificate while inside the correctional for purposes of landing a job outside.
Landing a job is difficult for an offender. There are, however, employers willing to give offenders a second chance and having a degree or a certificate while inside will give you an advantage.
Take advantage of the vocational and educational courses offered by the Correctional as part of the re-entry program for inmates. Check for a course that enhances an existing skill and register or you may prefer to learn another skill. Obtaining a certificate is handy when you search for a job after your release.
In addition, you could enroll in night classes provided for inmates. Aside from earning college credits for these classes, it has the added advantage of keeping you out of trouble while inside. An active mind can trigger inspiring ideas that may prove useful to you and your family.
Communicate with family
Being in prison affects not only you but your family and friends as well. Your children lost a parent when you went to prison. But the separation is not a reason to abandon your role as a husband and a father.
Communicating with your family when possible through letters or phone calls will give you the impression that you are still there for them. During phone conversations, talk about family life, of your children’s school events and friends – what normal families usually do.
Make the most of the family visits; talk to your children, be patient, and listen to their stories. Do not let your experiences inside the prison influence the mood of the visit. Be positive, encouraging, and offer suggestions where you see fit.
Keeping that connection with your family serves as your anchor during those days when you feel low. Encourage your family and friends to visit you. You can gain inner strength and motivation during these visits. They will help you endure the days inside the prison and work for your timely release.
As you can see, how you survive inside the Idaho Department of Correction facility and cope with things is entirely in your hands. You have a choice and an excellent reason for leaving prison – envision yourself with your family living in a community where you are productive.