Stayin’ Alive: How To Survive In Jail

The unthinkable has happened – you were foolish enough to commit a crime and unfortunate enough to be caught. You went through the trial – perhaps you pleaded guilty, perhaps you didn’t. Either way, you’ve been sentenced to prison time. The only thing you know about prison is from watching the Shawshank Redemption and the Green Mile. You’re not sure how to get through this.

1. Eyes on the Prize
Remember that the primary purpose of prison for most people is to rehabilitate the prisoner – that is, change them from someone who would commit a crime to someone who would make a better decision, through actively discouraging them from the experience of prison. It isn’t going to be pleasant. But you can focus on why you made the decisions you did and what you will do instead.

By accepting that what you did was wrong, and focusing on how you’ll be a better person in the future, the time inside will not be wasted.

2. Get an Education
It’s amazing what can be accomplished when you take away distractions and give someone enough time. Whether you’re in for a short stint or a lengthy prison sentence, you can use the time effectively to gain new skills. You won’t be allowed to use the internet whilst you’re in prison, but plenty of prisons offer educational schemes to prisoners.

Consider what will happen after you’re released. Unfortunately, as a convicted criminal there will be plenty of careers permanently off-limits to you, and still more companies who won’t hire you with a criminal record. That means you’ll need to train extensively and well, and select your profession carefully.

3. Take Up a Hobby
What’s a better way of passing the time than to spend it doing something you enjoy? Now’s a great time to perfect those chess skills, or learn to play basketball. Just be wary of playing for money – you don’t want to run up a debt in prison. You’ll also need to be careful about who you associate with as this can often land you in hot water.

4. Stay Healthy
It’s tempting to fall into a well of depression and lose all interest in exercising, but being fit and healthy has never been more important than when you’re in prison. It’s a great outlet for stress and you’ll be less likely to be targeted by other prisoners.

5. Keep in Touch
No matter what length of time you’re inside for, stay connected with the outside world. Write letters to family members and friends and call them as often as you can. It’s an important thing for many reasons; firstly, it will help to pass the time, secondly, it will keep you connected with the world outside so your loved ones don’t feel neglected by your absence, and thirdly, it will greatly assist with your re-integration into society when you get released.

Keep in mind that your relatives and friends may initially be hostile towards you. You need to be prepared for the fact that they may not wish to associate with you anymore. If you have wronged them, apologise and keep faith.

Kate Lee is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to legal advice websites. She writes for Bail Bonds Direct in California.