Stepping into a prison for the first time is a frightening experience. Every prison is different. Prisons could be noisy and dreary. It could also be comfortable and relatively peaceful. This variation applies to the prisoners as well. Prisoners have different social backgrounds and culture. This results to discriminations and violence. So how to survive in prison or jail if you are black or African American?
Prisons are classified into five different security levels, maximum, close, medium and minimum, but inside every prison are three groupings, namely the administration, the guards and the prisoners. You need to at least know how each role interplays with each other.
Administrators are usually educated people who have experience with the penal system. They are wardens or the ones who help in making policies. The guards, on the other hand, are the ones who enforce these policies. You must be careful in dealing with them as some are not as professional as the others and support racist acts of violence. They seek authority and view prisoners negatively. You wouldn’t want to be around these kinds of people. If you want to know how to survive in prison or jail if you are black or African American, continue reading. There are four things you should remember.
1. Be careful on who you associate yourself with. Be with people who will affect you positively and avoid the wrong crowd. Look for those people who are taking advantage on the vocational and educational opportunities around them. Avoid those who are hostile and always make trouble with the guards and their fellow prisoners. You must also be careful when associating yourself with any gangs. This can lead you to a whole lot of trouble in the future. Do not trust anyone easily.
2. Be healthy both in mind and body. Do not waste your time doing nothing but watch television or listen to gossips. Educate yourself and learn from books available in prison. You can also ask your family for books if possible. A sharp and clever mind is helpful in dealing with any situation. You should also exercise and keep your body healthy and strong. You would want to be able to fight if the situation calls for it.
3. There will be racist gangs inside, find out who they are and steer clear of them. There will surely be racist gangs and individuals inside the correctional facility, and when they see you they will surely provoke you any way they can. It is almost impossible to avoid these gangs, but you should at least try to sneak under their radar as much as possible, and do not, in any form or fashion, provoke them or get their attention intentionally.
4. Improve yourself for the better. The time you have in prison can be a great time to know yourself. Meditate, reflect, set goals to accomplish, and keep yourself busy. Be treated with respect and show respect in return. Have a relatively peaceful prison life by obeying rules and keeping away from any sign of trouble.
5. Have a strong spirit. You may get involved in fights and confrontations in your stay in prison, but keep your head up. You should have the heart not to give up on yourself and your moral values. Keep your faith strong and believe that you shall be free soon enough. The great thing about prison is that they have churches and prayer rooms for any and all religious groups. Find out where these facilities are so that when you feel like your spirit is about to give, you can go somewhere to pray and/or meditate. You don’t even need to have to practice any kind of religion to lift your spirit; you can just go to a quiet part of the exercise yard and let your mind travel
6. Be strong for you, and your family. Your family is allowed to pay you a visit every once in a while, and while you are with them you should try your best to look and act strong. If you were to break down in front of your loved ones then they will start breaking down as well, it will be a vicious and never-ending cycle of self-loathing. You should try your best to put a brave face when your family comes for a visit, but this does not mean you will just be acting for the rest of your prison term. You really should become strong-willed and not let the loneliness and fear of being in prison get the best of you.
7. Follow the rules. This point cannot be stressed hard enough. You ended up in prison because you broke the law (or at least the judge thought that you did), so it will not look good on your already tarnished record if you misbehave while you are inside. Try your best to get on the guards’ and prison administrators’ good side. It’s true that you can get a couple of years shaved off from your prison sentence for good behavior.
8. Talk to your lawyer. Even though your lawyer was not able to prevent you from getting a conviction, he/she can still help by lowering your prison term, or at least provide you with all of the information you need to do it yourself. Your lawyer can negotiate with the judge and the plaintiff’s counsel to agree to a less severe prison term for you; in fact, your lawyer can even get you transferred to another, lower security correctional facility. Do not blame your lawyer for not getting you an acquittal, he/she did the best that he/she could to prove your innocence, just calm yourself and ask your lawyer what else he/she can do to help you.
Manageable right? This guide on how to survive in prison or jail if you are black or African American may not be a sure way to avoid trouble entirely but it can help if you have a small inkling on what to do. There are people with bad intentions after all.