Being sentenced and sent to a correctional is hard not only for the offender, but for the family and friends who were left behind. The separation is made more frightening by the thought of entering a world that is unknown. Being unknown, it is more likely for a first time offender to commit mistakes that can even prove fatal.
However, there are ways to help you survive the Illinois Department of Correction facility without any violent incidence. Surviving prison calls on all your strength and determination for self-preservation. You may be in prison but it is not the end of the world. You must surpass all trials you will encounter inside and use these adversities to prepare for a better life outside.
Observe and learn
You will be surrounded by a community of offenders. Like any other community, there are codes of conduct that exist. Observe and find out what the code of conduct is and respect this. Conducts such as getting ahead in a line at the cafeteria, entering a cell before getting invited in, and taking the possessions of other inmates will surely land you in trouble. Respect is the key to a safe conduct and applies to all, including prison guards and prison staff. Respect all and this will enable you to survive the Illinois Department of Correction facility while serving time.
In addition, learn the rules and policies inside prison as well as the unwritten code of prison authorities. Staying within the parameters of what you can and cannot do and respecting the unwritten code will keep you away from trouble with authorities and away from solitary confinement.
Take note that nothing is free in prison. In prison, what looks like a social interaction is always a transaction with a trade off. Therefore, if someone is nice to you, it is probably because something is expected from you in return. The point is, trust no one. The only person you can trust is yourself.
Trust yourself, trust your instincts. Learn to read signs of trouble and do not hesitate to stay away once you sense one coming.
The safest way to survive in prison is to keep to yourself and stay away from the general population. It would, however, be nice to have a decent conversation with someone inside. Look for someone you can have a real interaction with.
Empower your brain
Prison time is not the end of your world. Engage in education. Taking a course gives you the advantage of being with sensible people you can interact with inside. It will also prepare you for job employment when you’re finally free. Of course, it helps pass time, and keeps you out of trouble.
Visit the prison library or have a member of your family provide you with newspapers, books, and magazines. Information keeps your brain strong and your mind occupied. A strong brain will help you face tough situations objectively and a strong mind can have visions beyond the correctional walls. Imagining a future world outside will keep you sane inside. A future world, though imagined, is something to look forward to.
Stay physically fit
Weakness in mind and body makes you a prey to strong-arm tactics of bullies. For your brain to function and remain active, you need a physically fit body. Do regular exercises in the cell or in the yard. There are advantages in exercising: time passes quickly, in a stressful place, an exercise is a great stress reliever, and the ability to defend yourself should it become necessary.
The correctional provides a gym for physical fitness program. Visit the gym regularly and do workouts, weight lifting, and other activities. Join sporting activities like basketball, or do ‘runs’ at the prison yard.
Keep your emotions in check
In an overcrowded prison, emotions are wired high. However, giving sway to your emotions is a sure way to land you in trouble, worse if you end up in solitary confinement. To have feelings of fear, anxiety, and anger are natural but open to subjective interpretations. If you show fear, this is a weakness that an inmate can take advantage of. On the other hand, if you show anger an inmate could feel threatened and provoke you into a fight.
Be in control of your emotions and the situation inside the prison. Take a positive view where the experience you go through inside makes you a stronger person.
You have time inside the prison but not much to do. The longing for your family and friends and the life you once had before prison will make you feel lonely and depressed. Learn to cope with your depression.
There are strategies that can alleviate depression: see humor in the negative thought, be aware of your negative self-talk and turn it around into a positive thought; rationalize the negative thought; talk to a trusted friend; be with positive thinking inmates; distract yourself with activities; do relaxation techniques inside the cell, in the yard, or somewhere quiet; improve your self-control and discipline.
Depression can be your worst enemy inside and could be fatal. On the other hand, the weapon is within you. Believe in who you are and what you are. It takes a strong mind and will to overcome depression, but with determination you can overcome your depression and survive prison.
Stay connected with family
Remember that your incarceration affects your family, too, in a hard way. So make the most of family visits and play the role of father and spouse. Show appreciation for what they go through for making these visits like travel time, security checks, and long waits. Listen to family issues with patience and understanding. Keep abreast with your children’s activities and give advice, be happy with their success and show understanding for failures. If you wish to survive the Illinois Department of Correction facility, keep your focus on your family.
Friends are important, too. They are your connections to the community and support when you need personal, financial, and employment assistance after your release. Further, they can ease your reintegration into society. While serving time, the visits of your friends serve as the inspiration and the motivation for you to move on after your release. However, do not forget to return the favor when the time comes that your friends need your help. Such a reciprocal act will strengthen their belief in you and in your relationship.