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Getting the news that someone you know is in prison can be surprising, sad, stressful, and/or confusing. If someone you know has never served time in prison, then you may already know that having support, helpful knowledge, and coping skills can mean the difference between life and death in various instances and correctional facility settings. Cell Block Legendz does not wish for you or your loved one to end up in jail or prison. Nevertheless, we are providing you with these 11 Survival Tips For Your Loved One In Prison, below, that just may help to save your loved one’s life.

There are some distinctive rules and guidelines to obey to survive in prison that can also motivate someone you know who is sentenced to serve or serving time. Regardless of whether a suspect is in jail or prison, there are some helpful things to know that can help them survive and mentally and physically stay out of danger.

While there is no guarantee that the following survival rules and guidelines can save a prisoner’s life, these rules and guidelines may increase their chances of living to fight another day for their freedom. You can help your loved ones in prison by sharing with them of these 11 survival tips:

1. Build A Routine Of Best Practices In All Three Areas Of The Mind, Muscle, And Mettle That Preserve Equilibrium. This is crucial to helping a prisoner survive in prison. A prisoner’s mind, muscle, and mettle (ability to resiliently and spiritually cope well with adversity) are three M's that should be remembered. Prison can be intense for prisoners. It can test a prisoner's emotional, physical, and mental stamina. Falling into the trap of focusing on one of the three M’s and neglecting the others can have negative consequences. Prisoners need to find balance and harmony in their mental state and social and physical prison settings.

2. Know Who Is Who And Where Everything Is. Learn The Rules: Both Written And Unwritten; Verbal And Non-Verbal. Every prison is a culture. Correctional facility rules and guidelines may be disseminated or communicated to prisoners by guards and staff. It is important for prisoners to “get the memo”, proper information, and learn correctional facility protocols. This can mean the difference between repeatedly bumping heads with guards and risking negative consequences or having a less stressful time dealing with incarceration. Observe and learn how prisoners interact with each other and what areas in the chow hall and recreation yard are the safest. Discern when to speak up and when to listen. If two prisoners are having a conversation, don’t just interject with your opinions and feedback unless asked and even then, be mindful of your knowledge and position on the subject matter. New prisoners who do not learn and apply the rules and guidelines can especially be vulnerable and shocked by prison culture. 

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3. Give Basic Respect And Empathy. In some facilities, posturing and staring at another prisoner for too long can be interpreted as a sign of disrespect. These and other disrespectful actions can get a prisoner in trouble, hurt, and/or killed. Prison has various areas of interaction for prisoners: the chow hall, work, infirmary, recreation yard, etc. Inmates sometimes must sit for half an hour or more in several rows during the day. Some prisoners can feel like you think you're better than them if you cut in front of them in line, and they don't like that at all. In fact, not only can the inmate who gets cut in front of start behaving furiously, those behind them will likely be annoyed as well. In some correctional facilities, disciplining those who cut in line is essentially part of the prison culture. If you're a prisoner standing in line and someone cuts in front of you, you can be expected by other prisoners to "test" the prisoner who cut in line (tell him or her that they need to get back in their original spot) and be willing to stand your ground, which may even lead to a physical altercation. But, in prison, responding with violence toward a disrespectful offender can be part of the prison culture. Essentially, for some inmates, the act of empathy is not to say or do anything to others that you would not want them to say or do to you. This rule should go without saying; but you would be surprised to know just how many prisoners do not follow even basic rules and guidelines and end up in protective custody, solitary confinement, injured, or killed when they fail to give basic respect and empathy in prison.

4. Do Not Come Across As Weak. Have you ever heard the saying, "Your actions decide your height"? Almost everything that happens to you during your incarceration may be decided by your behavior. Come across as overly aggressive or with a terrible attitude and you may be challenged, tested, and changed by someone wiser, more experienced, and/or more aggressive. Come across as weak and you may be manipulated, maimed, injured, or killed. Also, it may be a sound idea to develop a reputation that when faced with confrontation from other prisoners, you don't take any sh*t and will not let them take anything from you. It is a good idea to know your strengths and limitations and govern yourself accordingly in prison.

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5. Check Your Attitude. You must have the right attitude to get along with your fellow inmates and the guards. If you take your frustrations out on others, it can backfire and create unwanted enemies who may make your daily life difficult. If you are unwilling to adjust your attitude to make your time less difficult by taking advantage of helpful legal and prison resources to plan and personally grow, then you may end up frustrated, overwhelmed, and unable to mentally cope with the consequences.

6. Be Mindful Of Your Affiliations. In prison, you don't have to join a gang for protection. Bear in mind that there may be consequences and repercussions for your involvement in or lack of affiliation in a gang. If you do need protection, realize that you still may have to fend for yourself, at times, against being stabbed or assaulted. Keep in mind that prisoners of the same race are expected to sit with and interact with others of the same race in the chow hall, recreation yard, etc., and if you break this rule, it can have negative or deadly consequences. Be careful about who you accept favors and help from. You can end up being expected to pay back help and favors with surprising expectations like sexual favors, inflicting violence on others, and/or having violence inflicted against you if you are unable to pay back favors.

7. Mind Your Business. It can be good for the prisoners to keep their opinions and feedback to themselves unless asked. Lift weights regularly. Visit the prison library. Be low-key. Take care of your business and stick to your fitness. Don’t be a nosey Norman or prying Pam. Often, you may find that looking the other way may be better than getting directly involved in other prisoners' issues and keeping down unwanted drama and problems. Oppositely, if you joined a gang in prison, you may be punished and retaliated against for not getting involved in a fellow gang member’s business.

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8. Hold Communication Lines Open With The Outside World. Chat with family and loved ones on visits, through letters, and in some federal prisons, via email. Use every way you can to keep in touch with your loved one during your incarceration to keep them informed of your status and well-being. It can be helpful for your family and loved ones to monitor your situation, communicate with the prison facility administration, and/or seek legal information, if necessary, to help you.

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9. Do Not Gamble. Gambling can severely affect you while in prison. If you end up accruing debt that you cannot repay or have misunderstandings during gambling, then you could end up being repeatedly harassed for repayment, injured, or killed.

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10. Do Not Do Drugs. Some prisons carry out drug testing on prisoners. Some of the prisoners may be tested once a year or randomly. If your drug test is positive, you may be subjected to a drug treatment program or solitary confinement. You could also lose a couple more weeks of Good Time, which is time reduced from your sentence; that means you'll have to stay in prison for extra time beyond your initial release date. Prisoners are confined to a cell for 23 hours a day with solitary confinement. You’re not allowed to go to the chow hall to eat with other prisoners. You’re given food in your cell to eat and the only thing you may get to study is a Bible if you choose. If you are found to be involved with smuggling drugs in prison, then you could have additional time added to your sentence.

11. Do Not Think You Can Be “Buddy - Buddy” With The Guards. Be careful about snitching to guards on other prisoners who may be doing illegal things. You may be better off keeping that stuff to yourself, even if a guard asks you to tell them about an altercation or event that involved other prisoners. Prison guards may have no more regard for a snitch than inmates do. Guards may let it be known to other prisoners that you're a snitch if you do something to disrespect or hurt them. If you're lucky, you may be able to secure a move to another facility before you get retaliated against, injured, or killed. You may not be able to totally rely on prison guards to protect you in prison. Some of them may not want to risk physical injury or worse. Be mindful of how your interactions with the guards are perceived by other prisoners.

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Prison or jail can be a whole new world for some people where learning and adapting to various rules and guidelines must be considered. It's not like living in the outside world where after reporting a crime to the police, someone can return to their home without living amongst strangers who may view and treat them as a friend or foe.

Supposedly, prison is supposed to rehabilitate prisoners. However, depending on a man’s or woman’s experiences there, they may end up with resentments and other negative feelings against it and others whom they deal with daily. How someone learns to interact, adapt, and apply the skills to survive can make a huge difference in their prison experience. For many prisoners, when they go to sleep at night and wake up the next morning, they may not wake up in the same mental or physical state as when they went to sleep.


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For more information about prison survival tips and the criminal justice system, click on the link below: 

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Federal Prison Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Surviving the Federal Bureau of Prisons 1st Edition by Christopher Zoukis

The Prisoner's Guide to Survival (Paperback) by L. Powell Belanger