When you’re incarcerated for the first time, it is very difficult to come to terms that you’re no longer free to eat when you like, go out for a walk, go on a date and all that.
Instead, you’re filled with the sadness of being locked up in a cell for a very long time. Accepting your present condition is one way to start, engaging in positive activities is another way to survive your time in prison.
The prison is a much different environment because life there is hostile and scary, but if you live by their rules, you will be fine.
METHOD 1 of 5:
SURVIVING PRISON LIFE
1. GAIN A NEW INSTINCT FOR DANGER
The prison is one place where you will find notorious gangsters, murderers, thieves, rapists and others, so you should always be on your toes and on the lookout for any abnormalities.
- If you sense an impending danger, do well to protect yourself by finding a safe place to hide. Don’t go playing the hero you’re not.
- Always trust your instincts. If you have got a bad hunch about something, it is best to follow your instincts.
- Develop a sixth sense if you don’t have one. The prison is not somewhere you will choose to remain oblivious about, but you should always be alert to events that can endanger your life.
2. RESPECT OTHER INMATES
Respect they say is reciprocal and you should try to live by that in prison. Although, you may not be respected in return, always show respect to other inmates and prison officials. Desist from using derogatory terms and try as much as possible to stay within your boundaries.
- Like I said earlier, the prison is home to some of the world’s dangerous criminals and I don’t think you would want to get on their bad side. This people can harm you without remorse.
- Do not use derogatory words on other inmates, desist from using words that demean their masculinity of femininity so you get into a fight, solitary confinement, or end up on the wrong side of the grass.
- Do not cut the line at the chow hall or you might end up being cut pretty bad for that.
- Stay within the confines of your cell and only enter another inmate’s cell if invited.
- Keep your hands off the personal belongings of other inmates unless you are permitted.
- While you’re free to associate with whoever you want, it is important to stick more with your race as they’re sure to look after you than any other.
- Don’t go about fighting in prison. If you must fight, let it be in situations where you’ve no choice, like when someone disrespects you. Because if you don’t, you’ll be referred to as a “punk” or coward and nobody likes that.
- Always respect others even when you’re not respected in return.
3. AVOID GANGS, DRUGS, AND GAMBLING
It is often depicted in movies that the best way to protect yourself while in prison, is to join a gang. That’s a complete lie! Joining a gang in prison will only expose you more to being injured or even murdered.
- In prison, most clashes or confrontations are perpetrated by one gang to another and in such confrontations, it is common to see gangs leaving with stab wounds, deep cuts, or slashings. A disadvantage of being in a gang is that once the prison knows you’re affiliated with one, your chances of leaving the prison in good time is very slim. My advice therefore, is to decline any offer to join a gang.
- If you’re caught doing drugs, then prepare to be locked up in solitary confinement, do more time in prison, or worse still get transferred to a more dangerous facility.
- Avoid gambling in any form! Having money in prison is an advantage, however if it leads to incur unpayable debts as a result of gambling, flee from it. If you’re caught up in a web of gambling incurred debts, you will constantly look over your shoulders for the rest of your time in prison.
4. STEER CLEAR OF SOLITARY CONFINEMENT
Believe me, solitary confinement is not where you would wish to be locked up in. That hole comes with all sorts of mental disorders and depression, so avoid anything that will take you there.
- Do not engage in violent activities or exhibit behaviors that will send you to solitary confinement. Seek safety from fights or any confrontations that may drag you into that hole.
- Abide by the rules of the facility in which you’re held up in, as violating them may land you in solitary confinement.
- Note that gang members are regularly locked up in solitary confinement, so keep this in mind before joining a gang.
5. ENDURE SOLITARY CONFINEMENT
Solitary confinement is prison inside of prison. It is a small cell that restricts you from most things other inmates have access to. Here, you are locked up for 23 hours daily, with little or no access to recreational activities that greatly impact your mental health. If you end up in this hole, you must try as much to remain sane.
- You can maintain sanity by putting up a mental schedule of what you’d do if you were a free man. Mentally follow through with the routine of waking up, having lunch, exercising and all that. Imagine what you would be doing on a daily basis as a free man.
- Think of things you love doing and imagine yourself explaining how it’s done to someone. If you have carpentry skills, tell someone how to source for the materials and assemble them bit by bit to make furniture. Try as much as possible to engage your brain!
METHOD 2 of 5:
MAINTAINING YOUR HEALTH
1. EAT HEALTHY
The food served in prison is not the best of diets especially since it contains high calories, supplementing your meals from time to time can help spice up your diet.
- You can supplement the meal in prison with food from the commissary or canteen will go a long way in improving your diet.
- Unlike the regular food served to prisoners, food sold in commissaries contains a rich quantity of vitamins and minerals. As such, you may want to supplement with these once or twice a week.
- Drink lots of water and ensure to always remain hydrated.
2. EXERCISE REGULARLY
One way to get your mind off being in prison and keep you out of trouble, is by engaging in regular exercises. It also helps to keep your mental and physical health in check.
- Regular exercise will help you take your mind off time in prison (you won’t be all too focused on your condition all the time).
- Spending some of your exercising, helps to relieve stress and keeps you out of trouble.
- You need to be physically fit to defend yourself from danger at times.
3. KEEP BUSY WITH ACTIVITIES
Lying around and fixing your eyes on the time will only worsen the problem. Get busy with something! Learn a skill or vocation, enroll for a school program or participate in a sport activity.
- Stay busy and I can guarantee it will keep you out of trouble. Exercise, read, or draw, but by all means engage in activities that will give no room for idleness.
- Engaging in activities have proven to be one effective way most prisoners forget about their current condition for a moment and just have fun.
4. DEAL WITH AN ILLNESS
Do not die in silence, if you have an ailment, seek help from the prison’s medical staff. Most prisons provide healthcare for prisoners in the most cost-effective and efficient manner. So if you’re ill, you can get appropriate treatment in the prison’s medical center or a community hospital if your case is severe.
- To get medical care in prison, you must first submit a written request for treatment. When received, your request will be screened and then scheduled for an appointment.
- There is access to emergency services in prisons if needed.
- You also have access to drugs, surgical operations, prenatal, and hospice.
METHOD 3 of 5:
Staying sane while being locked up is difficult, however, it is possible if you engage in the right practices.
1. READ TO EMPOWER YOUR MIND
Reading is one way to sharpen your mind and keep you informed with happenings on the outside. You can read newspapers, magazines, and books on general knowledge to keep your mind off negative thoughts.
- The knowledge gained from reading will help you build conversational skills that will help you relate well with prison guards and other inmates.
- You can always put such knowledge to work when you’re out of the prison walls.
2. GAIN AN EDUCATION
I’m very sure most prisons in the United States offer college programs and classes for prisoners who wish to gain or further their education. There’s plenty of time in prison, so why not invest some of that time acquiring an education.
- Acquiring an education while in prison will better prepare you for the outside world.
- The proof of a degree will come in handy while seeking for a job in the outside world.
3. DEAL WITH DEPRESSION
The prison along with its many ills, comes with depression. Being locked up is not something that is easily accepted which may lead to thinking and eventually depression. You may or may not have access to a counselor or drugs, however, you have to deal with it.
- If you don’t have access to a mental health professional, look for another inmate who you think can provide a listening ear and is probably facing the same challenges as you.
- Exercising has been found to be one activity that releases hormones that helps relieve stress and depression. So exercise often.
- Do not seek solace in drugs or alcohol else you would only worsen your condition.
- Consume more fruits and vegetables while cutting down on caffeine and sugar intake.
- Try to make friends with other inmates who will be able to help and support you during moments of depression.
4. MANAGE YOUR ANGER
The prison environment is one that is enough to make you want to vent your anger on the slightest provocation. Thus, if you can’t manage your anger, you may get into more trouble.
- Try to engage in dialogue with the inmate you feel provokes you to anger rather than act first. The other inmate might not even be aware that he/she did anything in the first place.
- Respect the opinion and rules of other inmates and under no circumstance should you try to impose yours on them so as to avoid a fracas.
- Avoid being too hard on yourself or complaining that the system is always working against you. The more you think that way, the angrier you’re likely to become.
- In prison, there is not only the good or bad, but the ugly as well. Understanding this will help you survive in prison.
METHOD 4 of 5:
LEARNING THE CODE
1. DO NOT TRUST ANYBODY
Remember the prison is filled with dangerous criminals, murderers, rapists and lots more, so you shouldn’t be quick to trust anybody. Even the prison guards and staff are not left out. You can relate well with them, but be discreet in your dealings with them, don’t be fooled by their appearance as there is always a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
- If you notice any other inmates being too polite and all interested in you, tread carefully because most inmates live by the “trust nobody rule,” and if you notice anybody getting too close to you should be on the lookout.
- Relate well with prison guards and staff, however, be mindful of what you say or confide in them, as they can use your words against you at the slightest opportunity.
- Mind your business! If you go about snitching to prison guards, remember that you have a cell to go back to where prison guards can’t protect you. Therefore, it is best to remain mute even when you have information on another prison.
- Trust nobody but yourself since you only know yourself and can’t tell what the other inmate is capable of.
2. HIDE YOUR EMOTIONS
It will take a great deal to conceal your emotions, but you have to do it. Emotions of anger, fear, sadness, or happiness should be well concealed so other inmates won’t take advantage of your emotions and use it against you.
- If you’re someone that always shows emotions, other inmates who are bent on making life miserable for others will find you an easy target.
- Your words don’t matter, as prison guards are always right and will never support you. Know this, show them respect, and try as much to not get on their bad side.
- Under no circumstance should you think to challenge or intimidate inmates, guards and staff. Even if you feel you’re right, remember your feelings or opinion doesn’t count.
3. DO NOT STARE
The slightest gesture or action could be misinterpreted in prison, so I advise that you are very cautious. Staring isn’t an action taken lightly in the free world, not to talk of in the prison. Always keep your eyes on your path and try not to stare at another inmate or guard as it may land you into trouble.
- While walking around the prison, keep your eyes on the path at which you’re walking, not all over staring at others.
- Staring may be misinterpreted to mean sexual interest or the intent to cause harm. The reason it is advised against.
4. DO NOT SNITCH
Even when you see another inmate doing drugs or beating up someone, turn your eyes away and stay mute. If you go about telling prison guards about the illegal activities of other inmates, it will make you a target to dangerous inmates who would want to cause you the greatest amount of pain or even death.
- If you’re questioned about the activities of another inmate by a prison guard, it is best to claim that you’re oblivious of his/her activities.
- Do not say demeaning and bad things about inmates and prison guards as it can earn you threats to life.
- If you can avoid talking to prison guards because you may be misinterpreted for a snitch by other inmates.
- Nobody likes a snitch neither inmates nor prison guards. So you need to be careful around inmates, most especially prison guards who will not hesitate to expose you to your enemies.
5. BE RESPECTFUL TO THE GUARDS
Prison guards call the shots in the prison, therefore in whatever you do, always show them respect. Do not get on the bad books of a prison guard as they make the current hell you’re in a far much unbearable.
- Do what a prison guard tells you to do without objection. If you’re unsure, simply ask.
- If you’re provoked by the actions of a guard, do not fight back verbally or physically because if you do, you’ll be dealt with irrespective of whether you’re right or wrong.
- If you want to talk or share your problems with someone, the prison guards should not be your choice, as they’re under no obligation to help you out. Worse case, they may offer to put in solitary confinement which is more of a problem than a solution.
- Some guards are close alliances with inmates from which they get payroll, so if you by chance upset such an inmate, you’ll indirectly be stepping on the guard’s toes.
- Do not be quick to just say anything, instead select words to say or if you can talk less. If you have the habit of talking carelessly, there is a high chance that your words would one day be used against you.
METHOD 5 of 5:
COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR FAMILY
1. WRITE LETTERS AND MAKE PHONE CALLS
Communication with family helps you to dwell less in pity or sadness because the voice or writings from a loved one is able to provide you with strength in trying times. It will also help you to bond more with your family.
- Regular communication with your family and friends will be of great benefit to your mental health.
- Being updated about your family would give you something to hope for and the strength to survive just to reunite with them once again.
2. DO NOT ABANDON YOUR ROLE
Being in prison only limits you from playing your role as a father, mother, or friend, it doesn’t stop you! So you must keep on playing that role however you can.
- If you’re a father or mother in prison, try to always stay updated about what’s new in the life of your kids like what they scored in a test, how the basketball game went and all that. Let your conversations on the phone and in letters be narrowed to these questions.
- Do not appear weak before your family. The prison is a very difficult place, however, you need to put up a smiling face so your family members don’t get sad too.
- Always maintain a steady communication with your family, and do all in your power to keep them united.
- Lastly, show them support in return.
3. MAKE THE MOST OF VISITS
You should look forward to visits from your family because more than letters, it is a great way of bonding and talking about family matters. Don’t go seeing them all depressed and sad, else it’ll break their hearts even more.
- Your family is doing their best to come visit you in prison. Some may even travel long distances and spend so much money to see you, so you wouldn’t want to disappoint them.
- The hurdles and the embarrassment they have to face from being searched by the prison’s security is demeaning enough. Thus, show your appreciation for their efforts.
- Remember that just as you’re going through difficult times for being locked up, your family is equally facing the same too, so you don’t need to constantly whine about the problems you’re facing in prison. Try to discuss more about your family issues.
- Maintain a close relationship with your kids and inquire about the changes they’re experiencing while growing up. Ask about their winnings as well as their failures, provide them with advice and support them.