If Paris Hilton can learn how to survive jail (even if she did try to escape on day four), then you sure as hell can. Whether you’re going in for a driving offense akin to Hilton’s, shaming yourself by pulling a Hugh Grant with a prostitute in the back of your SUV or pulling a Winona Ryder in Saks after you saw something you just couldn’t live without, then you need to pay the price and learn how to survive jail like a man. So pull on that florescent orange jumpsuit, pose for your mugshot, make fast friends with your burly, tattooed cellmate, and -- whatever you do -- keep your back firmly against the wall.
How to behave around inmatesBe respectful to other prisoners: Striding into the yard like you own the place will earn you enemies, and -- in a place where you have to keep your enemies closer than your friends -- this could prove fatal. Stripped to your bare soul, the only three valuable assets you’ll have left are respect, dignity and pride.
Don’t stare at a fellow prisoner: The wrong look inside a prison will either mean you’re their new worst enemy or new best friend. And you’d better believe that being their new worst enemy is better than being the type of new best friend he’d force you to become.
Don’t become a target: If a confrontation does arise -- and, let’s face it, it probably will -- strike first. You must guard your reputation with your life, and giving in to the first confrontational situation will only make you a target for future attacks.
Don’t be a snitch: If you see anything illegal going on -- such as the trading of drugs or another inmate getting hoe checked (beaten by a group) -- walk away. The moment you snitch is the moment you become public enemy number one. While you may have earned brownie points with the wardens, you’ll pay for it in beatings later.
Assess who you can trust: Don’t give in to the temptation to jump at the first offer of protection. Instead, wait a few days, get a sense of the lay of the land, and establish who you can (kind of) trust.
Take nothing on credit: This includes drugs, food, toiletry items or dirty magazines. Being a debtor to someone in prison immediately makes you theirs -- in fact, you might as well put a dog collar around your neck and inscribe it with the word “bitch.” Prison is a game of power -- don’t give yours away.
Avoid becoming a fellow inmate’s “girlfriend”: While being someone’s “girlfriend” will afford you protection from fellow inmates, this protection is fickle; inmates’ “girlfriends” are often traded, sometimes for something as superficial as a pack of cigarettes.
Your first dayEntering prison is not like your first day at school -- it’s worse. You’ll be taken off the prison bus and led inside. The noise will be tremendous and prisoners will be sizing you up, jeering at you and doing everything they can to intimidate you. Don’t let them see weakness; keep your eyes firmly ahead of you and walk confidently inside, but don’t swagger. You’ll have your photograph taken, you'll be asked a couple of questions, and you’ll almost certainly be strip-searched. Although being strip-searched can feel very invasive, you must remember that the prison wardens do this every day and it is a highly impersonal routine for them. Accept your staple supplies -- including your uniform and pillow -- and follow the warden to your cell.
More tips on how to survive jail...
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