Ex-Cons Share The Best Tips To Survive The First Week In Prison
Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Prison is not a fun place.

That is obvious. But it's a good reminder, as to stay on the straight and narrow.

There are unspoken rules and ways to live once you're on the inside.

If you want to live or not be extra traumatized, there are things to learn.

Hopefully none of us find ourselves there but just in case...

RedditorJujhar_Singh wanted to hear some advice about life in the big house. They asked:

"Ex prisoners of Reddit, what are some of the best tips to survive the first week in prison?"

I know nothing about jail. Thank God, so this should be interesting.

Head Down

Tv Show Prison GIF by Animal Kingdom on TNTGiphy

"Dot start crap and keep to your own. Keep to yourself/a SMALL group of people."


"Probably like me, do everything by yourself, never expect anything from anyone, try to not talk about things that they can use to hurt you, etc."


It’s not worth it...

"As a supervisor in a level 4 prison... DON'T put yourself in ANY kind of debt EVER."


"I second this! Also if you don’t do drugs on the outside, don’t do them on the inside. Quick way to run up a debt and then you’re addicted and they’ve got you. I’ve had families call in to the facility because inmates are calling them at home to pay their incarcerated loved ones debt."

"As someone who has listened to many scared moms, wives, etc crying and sobbing on the phone please don’t put them through that. Also you have no idea if what you’re taking isn’t cut with something far more dangerous. Lastly I’ve seen way too many men come in with no drug habits or charges, leave with drug habits, then come back because of drug charges. It’s not worth it, once you’ve done your time, to the best of your ability stay out for you and your loved ones."


“I own you now”

"If you find a candy bar on your bunk, DON'T even touch it."


"If you goto a federal prison in Georgia they show you a video thats gives you information on what to do and what not to do once you go in. There’s a skit of a prisoner walking into his cell and finding a candy bar on a bed. He eats it and his cellmate comes in and tells him 'I own you now.' Basically teaching to prevent yourself from getting owned."



"Don't take favors from anyone cause they'll expect one back."


"Haven’t been to prison but had a work colleague who would do favours for me that I hadn’t asked for and then months later would be I did such and such for you now you have to do this for me or else."

"Things like giving me random items from home etc. I started very much trying to refuse everything and she would get extremely rude and demand I took whatever favour/gift it was. She made working there very unpleasant. When I left that job I never talked to her again."


Poop Time

scared eric cartman GIF by South Park Giphy

"If you’re taking a crap, take one leg out of your pants/shorts. You are vulnerable on the toilet. Best to not get tripped up if you have to react to a spontaneous assault."


Those are all good things to know, should we find ourselves in a predicament.


the shawshank redemption escape GIFGiphy

"Don’t mess with the COs the guards will make your life hell more than inmates."



"Spend your time in county working out. A lot of people hit prison and didn't work out at all in county. The big guys can be pretty rough and they'll test you(usually in a joking way) and you don't want to b*tch out. Don't cause problems and work out so you look like you can handle yourself and you should be fine. People will generally try to find easy targets. Don't be one of them."


Swing Back

"Always, always fight back. Even if you know you’ll get your a** beat. No matter what, fight back. They’ll see you’re not an easy target compared to someone who doesn’t defend themselves or else they’ll continue to harass you."


"I'm small and did almost 4 years and never got in a fight. Almost did once, and I told the guy I probably wouldn't win, but he wouldn't want his friends knowing who f**ked him up that bad. He got a strange look on his face and slowly walked away. This was at a minimum security prison, I don't think this would have worked on the max yard. But I still wouldn't go down without leaving a mark."


Chow Time Fun

"A coworker was in jail for about a year after getting caught selling pot. He said the crucial test was when someone messed with his food. He had his tray of chow, and some young guy smacked it out of his hands. He immediately started wailing on the guy."


No One

the dark knight head GIFGiphy

"Get bigger before going in don't give anyone your food, sneeze inside your shirt hygiene is a pretty big thing. No one inside is your friend."


Start with Respect

"Be respectful but never let somebody take advantage of you. You will get tested as soon as you come in. Prisoners can spot somebody who has never done time from a mile away. You need to stand up for yourself right away. Don’t gamble. Never borrow anything you can’t pay back."

"You will probably need to stick with your race. Stay off the guards radar. Blending in is your best bet. Never talk to a guard alone, especially if something has happened that they are looking for information on, even if you have no intention of snitching. Don’t befriend sex offenders."


In Max

"My buddy did some hard time in maximum, was amongst killers. He said most of the guys that were in there killed their wives, like 80% of them, those dudes were struggling everyday against the gang members, then said he got stabbed with a tooth brush for not f**king with people of his race, it happened in front of 2 guards while they were transferring him out of the prison."

"Had some other stories to share as well, but the point was that the guards are not there to protect you and if you're gonna be f**ked with, that's how it's gonna be."


Life of the Barracks

"Once you get to your barracks, stick to yourself and just watch and see how everyone else interacts with others, get a sense for who's on some bullshit and who's doing their time right. Don't accept anything free from anyone, it's never actually free. Like others have said, don't just give away your stuff either, just brings stress and trouble."

"Respect and how you carry yourself are key. As for fighting, it's gonna happen and usually it's to test you. If you stand up for yourself, it doesn't really matter if you win or lose, just so long as you'll fight. I wouldn't recommend using drugs, you never know what you're truly getting and drugs just brings trouble. If you're not in a gang, avoid joining up if possible."


Be on high alert...

"First week!!! Be on high alert. Don’t turn your back to anyone. Assume everyone is your enemy while pretending to be a friend. Don’t make calls to the outside. Don’t order canteen. Don’t let anyone know who you really are. Don’t play any games. Just shower, workout, eat, read, and stay in your cell."


Means to an End

"My father is a hippie and one of the kindest people you would ever meet. In the late 60’s he went to prison for selling weed for two years. First week in someone tried to assault him. He beat the guy up so bad that he lost an eye and had to have his jaw rewired. My dad said he felt bad because the guy acted a little off after that but he said from that day forward not one single person messed with him. His advice has always been don’t fight but if you are forced too then make it count."



finger toilet GIF by BuzzFeed AnimationGiphy

"I’ve never been but my father who did a few years told me that when you’re on the toilet in the same room as your bunky to flush as soon as something hits that water. I assume if you stink up the cell then your bunky might want to hurt you."


Dream it...

"Tell all the other prisoners, 'hey guys, let’s just be nice to each other and maybe prison won’t be so bad!' They’ll all put on a why didn’t I think of that before kind of face before one guy starts a slow clap that turns into an erupting applause from everyone. High fives all around. Guards are all in tears. Warden comes up to you and kisses you on the forehead."


Read it All...

"Get a book. You can use the spine of a large book as a cudgel. Last resort though because you’ll probably lose reading privileges. Plus reading will help you mind your own business and stay out of trouble. Books make good friends, cons don’t."



"Don't let anyone see your phone code. A lot of prisons use stuff like Pay-tel and the time you buy is loaded into an account and then you use the same code before you dial out. If someone sees you put your code in, they can use up all your minutes. The CO's could investigate it and find out who used it, but they probably won't."


Good luck to anyone doing time.

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