How to Survive Your First Day in Prison

By | January 1, 2016
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Anyone’s first day in prison is always a frightening experience. You should expect a huge dramatic change in the very conditions than the one you were used to. If you have to do time in prison, it will help to know what to expect when it comes to that. The discussion below will outline what you need to know about the very first day in a penitentiary.

Anything Goes

Here’s a little caveat as you try to figure out how to survive your first day in prison. It is true that there will be procedures that will be followed, which sort of gives you some structure with regard to the proceedings. However, you should also expect that things will not go as planned.

What to Expect

The first thing that will happen is that you will be removed from the court room after sentencing. You will then be placed in a temporary holding cell. This is the area where you and possibly others will have to wait to be transferred to the actual prison where you have been committed.

While waiting, you won’t be allowed to see any friends and family. Bring along anything you want to bring with you to prison including books and other personal effects. Note that everything that you have with you at the time will be taken from you and logged. You will see them again after a few days.

The actual waiting period is indefinite. There will be no clue or indication on how long you will have to wait. It may even take several days.

Your lawyer may be permitted to speak to you while waiting for transfer. He will discuss any options that are available to you including appeals that can be made. He may also pass messages from/to your family and friends so take advantage of that.

A psychiatrist may also visit you while in holding to assess your mental state. Don’t try to fake being insane – they will know if you are. Having someone to talk to will also help ease the boredom, somewhat.

You will also be given food – make sure to eat anything given to you since you will need your strength. After some time you will be transferred to prison. When you arrive at the prison, you may have to wait a bit since they may be processing other people as well. Some prisons are busier than others.

Go with the flow when you are finally let in. You will be taken from one room/section of the prison to the next, make sure to cooperate.

Some prison staff will record your personal information. Expect to be stripped and searched. You will then be given prison clothes and a bundle of items you will need in your cell like blankets, plate, and a cup, toiletries, etc.

A doctor will also give you a checkup. You will be asked about any issues about being held in prison and you will also be interviewed extensively. After that they will allocate a cell to you. Take note of your cell mates, some are friendly while others are not.

Keep your temper down, don’t get into a fight, and you especially do not want to get into a squabble with any prison gang members. Note that the guards do not have anything to let them know that you are new. You will be expected to learn the routine and schedule as you go along.

First Day Jitters

Now there is this very common emotion that a lot of first timers in prison feel. You will most likely feel the same way too – it’s a state of denial. A lot of first timers will usually feel that there has been a mistake made.

They will feel like they were thrown in jail for the wrong reason. Another part of that lingering feeling is that somehow, one way or the other, someone will discover the mistake and it will be corrected ergo they will be set free eventually.

This feeling will linger for the first few days. You will have this anxiety – some sort of expectation that everything will work out in the end. Here’s a piece of advice: let go and accept the truth. You’re in prison and you’re going to be in there for quite a while.

Note that you may encounter a few prisoners will still feel that way even after spending several years behind bars. The biggest realization that will come to you is the fact that you no longer have any control over your life.
The sooner you get your head back in gear the better are your chances of survival in prison. You don’t want to go there with some crazy fantasy running in your head.

One Day is Like an Eternity

Another overwhelming feeling that some first time prisoners feel is that their sentence is just way too long that they won’t be able to complete it. It doesn’t matter how long your sentence actually is.

There will come a time when it will feel like even a short one year and one day will feel like an eternity. The awful thing about this deal is that this feeling will come to you every once in a while. These are days when your personal affairs outside of prison will become your biggest burdens.

So how do you get over it? Unfortunately, there’s no single answer or formula that will solve this dilemma. You just have to ride the feeling until it’s gone. It’s an emotional surge that will wash over you like a wave – just be patient until the emotional tide abates.

You can work out in the gym, write letters, read books, or just sleep it over. Different people use different coping mechanisms. You just have to find something constructive that will occupy your mind and live prison life one day at a time.

Look Forward to Your Last Day

Still asking how to survive your first day in prison? Here’s one last tip – look forward to your last day. As the saying goes, you should always begin everything you do with the end in your mind. Picture how you should be on your very last day.

Remember that they will always let you out after breakfast on your last day behind bars. For many prisoners, they always feel like they just got there the day before on the very day they were to be set free. Live one grueling day at a time and the time will just fly by.

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