How to Deal with Prison
You were accused of a crime and either after a trial or a plea bargain, you were found guilty and sentenced to do time in prison. You will spend most of your time in a locked building with people that have done despicable things, some worse than you can imagine. If you behave, it might go easier on you. Nonetheless, you will have to make the best of it if you are going to survive.
Do not cry, show fear, or a vulnerability publicly. Doing so will quickly make you a target for other prisoners.
Learn to play spades, chess, or hoops as it makes the time go by faster.
Get a prison job which will keep you occupied as the days pass by.
Read a lot. They have a library there so use it. Catch up on your reading.
Consider taking correspondence courses and continuing your education.
Consider writing as well. Letters to friends and family, fictional short-stories, and poetry can make time pass a bit faster.
Brace yourself for the social dynamics of prison. There are certain ways to behave towards others if you want to get by:
Do not become a 'punk' (girlfriend). While becoming a punk might give you some fleeting, temporary protection from other inmates, you will be a virtual slave to one. Punks are used and abused. They are traded away in card games and sold for cigarettes. It is not a path to long term survival in prison.
Do not snitch. If you see something illegal or violent, walk away and do not divulge any information if questioned later. Being known as a snitch will make bad things happen to you. (Of course, you have to decide whether your fellow inmates or the authorities are more dangerous. If you're questioned and lie to the jailkeepers, you can get in serious legal trouble.)
Stick up for yourself or you will be turned into a punk. It's better to get into a fight and lose than to be seen cowering or placating. Your reputation is more important than your desire to avoid pain, so guard it with your life. Ultimately you should avoid any confrontation if you can, but if you can't avoid one, react quickly and with aggression. So swing first. If you happen to get beat down never call for the correctional officers--I repeat, never. Doing so will get you labeled a punk.
Keep to yourself, keep your mouth shut and don't tell anyone about your personal life, family, or criminal history--keep them wondering, but don't overdo it. Do not discuss politics or personal feelings about anyone. In other words, don't put your business out on the street. At the same time, don't get involved in other inmate's business.
Become religious. Inmates tend to treat those always carrying a Holy Book and praying with more respect than others. In addition, many people find a church and belief in a higher power protective and supporting.
Recognize that nights are the worst. You will miss your family, and freedom. You will probably cry, so stifle it into your pillow so no one will hear.
Tear up the return address from your incoming mail and cover the dial pad when calling home. Other inmates will write or call your friends and family if given a chance.
Don't get caught up in a jailhouse romance. The last thing you need is to be getting involved in a relationship.
An excellent resource for how to deal in prison is Jim Hogshire's book "You are Going To Prison" from Loompanics Unlimited. It is an informative, no-holds-barred read.
Respect the prison staff. They are there to help you. Their purpose is to bring about a reformation in your life.
Take pleasure in the feel of the sunlight on your face, the sound of the birds chirping and the wind in your hair. These are free and they can't take them away from you (unless you go to Seg - but that's a warning).
Determine to change your life completely so that you never have to spend time in prison again.
Do not do anything that will result in relocation to a different prison.
When walking, always look ahead. Don't stare at others, but don't wander around staring at your feet.
If your time is getting short or if you are being transferred to a lesser facility don't tell anyone. Out of spite some convicts will get a sick glee from getting you sent to the hole.
For the truly hardcore in states where it is allowed, you can avoid any parole time by doing your time in the hole up to your mandatory release date. This gets rid of any "good time" which you will serve on paper. Not recommended, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.
The information here mostly only applies to American prisons. If you are incarcerated in a non-American facility then you will have to learn different codes of behaviour. For example American prisons are notorious for male rape a problem not so severe in Europe.
Do not admit or discuss any crime against a minor. Child molesters, abusers and murderers are considered the lowest forms of life in prison and subject to frequent attacks. If you are convicted of a crime against a child, insist on being placed in Protective Custody immediately. You won't be able to hide the nature of your crime in a general population prison for long. You risk your life when (not if) other prisoners find out.
Do not gamble, unless you can pay your debts. They will use violence and stop at almost nothing to get what is due to them.
Remember, you are in a house of thieves and liars, and should not believe very much of anything you hear. Do not trust other inmates except in cases where there would not be serious consequences for doing so. I.e., make careful choices regarding your "friends" and your location at any given moment of the day.
Avoid drug use in prison. Drugs use, while providing a temporary escape, will lead to other problems.
Avoid tattoos. Prison tattoos can be unsanitary and lead to hepatitis or other diseases.
No matter how mad that person makes you, don't lose your line and time behind them. They aren't going to get you home any quicker. And getting your line and time taken will keep you there longer.
Do what you gotta do, but don't lose sight of the reason for surviving - getting out.
There are two rules for success:
(1) Never tell everything you know.