First Time in Jail: What to Expect Serving Your Time?

Serving your first time in jail or prison

It is like going into some of the culture – one may face new language and new reality. One person who spent a year in the United States Adult Correctional Institutes said it took him six months to finally figure out what was really going on. So the best advice is to be quiet and listen. Jail conditions’ purpose is to mentally isolate people from one another. At the same time many of the US prisons are overcrowded, and inmates serving their time are frustrated and irritated by distraction and noise. Little personal space and strict discipline can be a severe experience. Some current or former inmates report it was difficult to sleep, and the situation around leads any person to become short-tempered.

Inmates Serving Time in Prison

Photo by: Editor B / flickr

Being obliged to wear a uniform is another strong mental stress, especially when all your clothes are confiscated together with other personal belongings. In some medium and maximum security facilities one can go through a complete strip, including intimate examinations for contraband, which will make anyone feel ashamed, especially the ones serving their first time. Jail guards are actually not bad people themselves, however they expect the worst of people surrounding, and they will do everything in their power to preserve order.

How to behave and what to do in prison

Jail and prison uniform

Photo by: skinmatems / flickr

If it is your first sentence, or you are waiting for a trial not been able to bail out yourself, the first thing to do is to pay attention to how the other inmates are behaving. It is very important to listen, not speak. Things might not look as how they appear. Always pay attention to the needs and learn your rights, the guards might have great power, but it is within the borders authorized by the law. Don’t try to make friends out of guards, as other inmates will not trust you.

You will have a lot of time in jail, so try to get the most of it. Bring some books, paper and envelopes with stamps with you. Also try to stay fit and work out as much as possible. Another good thing is to educate yourself and try to find out how the justice system works. Start with an official inmate handbook and actually learn it by heart. It includes most of the jail or prison rules, which will save you from being punished for some rool that you didn’t know existed. Do not ignore the rules, and your life will be not as hard.

Books in prison

Photo by: Kamil Porembiński / flickr

Make sure you take as maximum money as you are allowed. You will need these to buy supplies you may need and also to make paid phone calls. In some prisons talking over the phone may be extremely expensive (up to $5 per minute). Nevertheless, do not show anyone that you have money, pretend to be poor, otherwise you will end up poor.

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