How to Survive in Prison

How to Survive in Prison

We have all watched one prison movie or another, all the rage, suffering, and gangster moments, as seen in such movies as OZ, the Wire, and Prison Break and con air. Some of these facts allude to what prison life is like, but no movies will ever really tell you how to prepare for prison life. Moreover, you may not be a buff actor, going against everything to get back to your loved one; you might be a normal guy caught up on the wrong side of the law. So how does a person survive in prison?

There are horror stories about what goes on inside jail, from inmates being jumped, beat up, and even killed. However, an inmate can have a relatively peaceful time while in prison; all they have to do is follow some directions that will help them avoid being a victim of any prison problems.

How bad is it in prison? Can people survive without attracting too much trouble? This article will look at the best advice an inmate can follow to help them survive in prison as they wait to come out at the end of their incarceration.

Respect Other Inmates and Personnel

Respect is a massive thing inside prison, and it can easily lead to death. Respect and pride are very closely together, and a lack of respect signifies that you are better than the other person, which can easily lead to your death. Inmates have been known to attack and even kill each other over seemingly simple things, yet it was the disrespect attached that caused it.

What Are Some Of The More Disrespectful Things That An Inmate Can React To?

First off, never refer to any inmate as a punk. This is one of the most grievous things you can do, which will most likely make you face a beat down or an injury. Prisons are more jungle-like than courteous and gentleman-like. Inmates survive through strength, and reducing an inmate to any weakness is an indictment on them getting bullied and harassed. To ensure they are respected, inmates will fight tooth and nail to defend themselves and be seen as strong.

If you ever refer to an inmate as a punk, you had better know what you are saying and be ready to defend yourself, as they will retaliate.

Something else you can never do while inside a prison is stealing something. Inmates will beat you up ruthlessly if you are a thief and may even kill you. Your friends will even beat you up themselves if they find you stealing, not to mention there are repercussions for thieves from prison security staff.

Do not cut in any line while inside a prison, inmates view it as another form of disrespect. Inmates have to make long lines to everything from food, phone calls, and even at the canteen. It is a hectic ordeal, and no inmate wants to wait for anything in a line. This means cutting a line translates to more time on the line for other inmates, which may be a problem.

There are codes that govern what respect is inside a prison, but to be safe, ensure you do not do to another inmate what you wouldn’t want to be done to you.

Do Not Join a Gang or Get a Girlfriend

Prisons are heavily gang oriented, and the main thing that brings different gangs together is their race. You will find white people aligned with white gangs and black people in black gangs. This makes prisons heavily racial in terms of how they deal with each other, to the point that a person from one gang cannot speak to another.

It may seem safer to join a particular gang, thinking it will help protect you; however, it marks you as an enemy to several other gangs. In addition, joining a gang does not mean you will not be a part of it after your incarceration ends.

For women inmates, ensure you do not get into any relationships when in prison. A few women get into prison and fall in love with another inmate for the time they are in prison, after which they get back to being straight after their incarceration. This may cause some drama, as an inmate may arrive at your house, surprised that you have a family on the outside you never spoke about.

Be aware of whom you talk to and whom you become friends with while in prison. You might end up inheriting some beef by association. Staying alone, away from gangs and groups will help you fly under the radar without much notice.

How to Survive in Prison – Stay Busy While in Prison

One of the worst things in prison is the time. It goes by slowly, and you have nothing to do for long periods. It can make an inmate go crazy.

While in prison, one of the best things for inmates to do is to find something to keep them pre-occupied. Focusing on you can be helpful to start working on the physical, mental, and spiritual sides of yourself. You can hit the gym, or join a sports team such as softball or football team.

Rather than spending the whole day locked up in a cell, you can also join a program you are interested in. Most of the programs available in many security facilities are educational and vocational based, meant to equip an inmate with some skill before they rejoin society.

You can also join work programs while in prison, which will either pay you or reduce your sentence. These work programs will require good conduct from the inmate to a level that can be trusted by the authorities.

Inmates can read books and magazines to help them pass the time while incarcerated. Friends and loved ones can send this in, or the inmate can get some from the library if they have one.

Correspondence is another great thing an inmate can get into to help pass the time. Most prisons will encourage inmates to mail their friends, pen-pals and loved ones.

Tips for Prison – Keep Fit

Prisons are known to be horrible to the weak. Part of the reason prison gangs came up was to increase strength in numbers. If you know you are going to prison, the best advice is to start buffing up and getting fit. This will not only help the inmate with self-defense, but it will also help them stay at their healthiest.

Avoid Favors

Prison economy works in a very different way compared to the outside world, with things being double or triple expensive. You might find yourself deep in debt with some bad people in jail through accepting favors.

There is no free lunch; meaning nothing in prison comes for free. Some inmates will use free and certain favors to ensure they can blackmail other inmates into doing them other favors in return, and becoming their pawns to mistreat as they please.

Avoid Drugs While in Prison

Another thing that may land you in trouble with many people in prison is drugs. Security may be tight within prison facilities, yet drugs still get in and are sold to inmates. If you know that you will be going to prison, and you have a drug problem, best get some help early.

As stated, drugs will be double or triple expensive inside prison, meaning you might get into debt with drug cartels inside prison. Nobody needs convincing not to get in debt with the cartel, plus if authorities find you with drugs is will be whole new problem.

If you have some drug problem and find yourself in jail, the best advice will be to check if they have any drug rehabilitation program and join it immediately. The worst place you want to find yourself is being indebted to the cartel and gangs in prison.

Housing Units

In most facilities, inmates are housed dependent on their criminal records and security risk they pose. In case you get into prison and are housed in a high-security area, you may use good conduct to ensure you are transferred to a medium-security facility or minimum-security facility.

You can also make a request to your prison officials and see whether there is a chance for being transferred to a better facility.


It may seem odd, but prison gives inmates a lot of time by themselves, which often sees them look within themselves, and start to come into terms with things they have done.

Most of the time, this sees inmates making moves towards increasing their spirituality, dealing with guilt, and seeking forgiveness.

Religion is a huge thing in jail, most facilities will ensure there is a form of spirituality allowed, and inmates can get access to people of God who come to help guide their spirituality.

Never Snitch

This cannot be overstated, but snitches and prison never go hand in hand. Most of the time, snitches go into protective custody to avoid dying in prison. While inside, as an inmate, ensure you never tell on anyone, and keep to yourself. Naming names is the easiest way to lose your life in prison.


Jail is quite a strict and scary place, especially for a first-time inmate. Apart from the advice mentioned in the article, the best thing you can have by your side is information. The more you know, the more you will be able to prepare yourself. Remember to keep under the radar, and follow the codes and rules, and you might sail by without much incident.