Basic Survival Techniques for Incarceration
Above all, you must realize that you'll be a prisoner like all the others, reduced to just a number, and no better than an illiterate Cuban whore or white trailer trash.
Never, EVER become involved in gambling. It’s a death trap, as sure as walking into an aryan fest with name badge that says zog.
NEVER involve yourslef with punks. Do not have sex with punks, do not associate with those who have sex with punks, etc. Many an inmate has been killed by a jealous boyfriend. This may not seem like the shiny happy egalitarian thing to do, but believe me, neither is dying.
NEVER invoke debts you cannot repay. It is best not to invoke any debts period. When you first enter any institution, you will be approaced with 241 offers. Meaning that the person will front you 1 item (pack of cigs, commisary food, whatever) but you will have to repay them two. This is a classic trap for unexperienced inmates. If you smoke, quit. If you want items from the commisary, etc. wait until you have money on your books, or your in a position with your prison job that you can run your own hustle, and have items to barter with. The basic rule, is to NEVER take ANYTHING on credit. This will get you killed or seriously injured or TURNED OUT and pimped to pay your bill real fast.
NEVER use drugs in prison, of any type. I will make an exception for Marijuana, because it’s not addictive, but again, ONLY smoke it if you can pay for it. Take NOTHING ON CREDIT.
NEVER collaborate with the hacks against a fellow inmate, and NEVER give any information up about another inmate.
If you are arrogant to other prisoners, you'll alienate them and create many enemies. This could prove fatal.
Always be respectful and polite to other prisoners, regardless of how weird they may act or dress. First, because you don't know who or what they are, and second, because respect and personal dignity are the most valued possessions left to a prisoner.
Never tell another prisoner what to do or give anyone orders. Don't tell the noisy ones in the law library to be quiet. Prisoners deeply resent being bossed around by another prisoner. Their likely reponse -- even to a polite request -- is, "What are you, a fuckin' cop?"
Never stare at another prisoner for more than a second or two. He may be a walking powder keg, set off by an intrusive stare. He may either assault you on the spot or wait until darkness. Even if he doesn't kill you outright, your face will never look the same again.
Avoid anyone offering to “take you under their wing” or help you out.
Generally, they are booty bandits, or Jailhouse pimps running a well thought
out and practiced game against you.
Your first days
Entering prison for the first time can be a frightening experienced The noise level is what strikes you and it is unlike any noise that you have ever heard before. It's human noise and clamor. That, coupled with the sight of those dreary bars, made me think, "Man, what have I gotten myself into here?!" When you have entered prison, you have entered a world unto itself. Each prison is different. What applies to one prison certainly will not apply to another. Generally, certain common things will take place. You will be taken off of a bus or other transport, and led into the prison. While this is taking place, other inmates will be “sizing you up”, and jeering at you, trying to intimidate you through fences, windows, etc. Keep your eyes forward, do NOT respond, and ignore it. Period. Once you are inside the prison, you will have to go through any number of humiliating experiences. You will get your photograph taken for your commisary card. You may be questioned. You WILL be strip searched. This is a very impersonal, and not at all private procedure. You and your fellow new prisoners will be hearded together like cattle, and then made to form a line. You will be forced to strip, and stand in line, sometimes for more than an hour. When it gets to be “your turn” in the line, you will have to raise your arms, raise your feet, spread your ass (to make sure you have no contraband hidden up there), raise your penis/scrotum if you are a male, open your vagina if you are female, etc.
After this process is done, you will generally be issued your staples. Your prison uniform, your blanket, etc. and sometimes a sack lunch. Then you enter the prison.
Nothing generally happens at first, but it will. You can count on someone paying you a visit, or someone stepping to you while you’re eating and trying to take your food, etc. Unless you are sexually threatened, or you feel that your life is in SERIOUS danger, it is best to fight. Fight hard. As hard as you can without weapons until a hack comes and stops it. This will gain you respect. It won’t keep you from having problems ever again, but there is no shortage of people who are so scared that they will submit to just about anything. If you are not one of those people, you’re less likely to have a problem. This stuff is usually a power issue, with someone who has some inner cowardice and wants to punk out someone to look/feel harder.
If you are stepped to sexually, or you feel like you run the risk of death, than do whatever you can to protect yourself. It is better to kill a predator than to be their prey. The other option, is to become chattel. Someones slave, who they can pimp out for money, drugs, commisary items, etc, and this is more often than not the case.
If you are ever raped, there is a certain way this horrible situation must be handled. People who have never been to prison think it can never happen to them. Don’t ever think that. You have to have it firmly set in your mind, and make sure others know that you realize you are not superman, and that it could happen, but it will never happen twice. If you are raped, you HAVE to kill the attacker immediately (or as soon as possibly) afterwards. This will prevent it from ever happening again. No piece of ass is worth dying over, and predators will move on to easier and more complacent victims if they feel like you have the will and fortitude to kill them if it happens. Often, if you show a willingness to fight, other inmates will help you out. This may come in the form of them telling someone not to fuck with you, to providing you with shanks/other weapons to kill the individual, etc.
Some people are of the notion that it is better to accept rape, or giving up your food, or any other type of submissive position, especially if you are a short timer and will be getting out soon. This is absolutely WRONG. First, you have a right to live as dignified a life as possibly. Secondly, if you are EVER sent back up, or catch more time whle you’re inside, or are transferred to another joint, your rep will follow you, and you will be destined for a life of a lot more of the same. This type of situation also almost ALWAYS has a snowballing effect. It never stops at something simple. Make one concession and you’ll be making them for the rest of your life (however long or short that may end up being!).
For brothers (especially) and sisters who are bi-sexual or gay; Do not engage in a submissive punk relationship, even if sucking dick is ok with you. The life of a prison punk is no life. I have seen grown men forced to wear a mixture of cool-aid and vaseline on their lips like lipstick, walk talk and dress like a woman, and I have even seen a “punk” killed on the spot for standing up to piss. We are skinheads, and we are revolutionaries. It is better to die than to live under that type of tyranny. There are always people in prison who want to have sex, and it’s not going to be a problem for you to find someone to get with, if that’s your thing.
Prisons are classified by security levels (Maximum, Close, Medium, Minimum). You will have different rules and types of people according to what kind of prison you find yourself in.
Although each prison is different, there exists three basic groupings in all prisons. This social strata consists of the administration, guards, and the prisoners themselves. Each group operates according to its own set of rules and values, while there exists an interplay between the three, and none being totally independent of the others.
The administrators of prisoners are usually people with years of devoted service in the penal system. Some are educated in the science of penology, but for the most part they are persons who came up through the ranks as guards. After taking a number of college courses, or gaining a degree in some social science, they were granted their positions and titles. At the higher levels of penal administration can be found a bit more educated persons who are more devoted to the penal system. These are the warders and people who help make policy decisions. In this modern day, they are usually Black people. For those who understand the negative consequences of incarceration, their appointments to those positions can be recognized for what it is, a divisive tactic. Normally, they are no more than mere figureheads who do the system's bidding.
Rules in prison are formulated to either antagonize or placate prisoners, but their main purpose is to control. The guards are the people who enforce the rules. They act as middle-men between administrators and prisoners. As prisons and people in them differ, so do guards. Some are real professionals. They respect other human beings. They spend eight hours at their jobs and go home. Others are the worst types of people. Dirt poor and barely literate, they exist in a no-man's land between welfare or prison for themselves. They deal in contraband and are capable of brutal acts (including murder) against prisoners. Most are former military people, ex-cops, or people who couldn't qualify for police departments. They thrive on having authority. Some hold memberships in racist organizations and Masonic orders. Suffering psychological problems, their world-view is negative, and that is how they generally view most prisoners.
The most difficult part about having contact with prison administrators and guards is that they usually operate from a set of preconceived notions about all prisoners. For them a textbook example of a prisoner is dumb, petty, passively or aggressively homosexual, scheming, and manipulative. Their manuals generally describe all prisoners this way. They tend to lump all prisoners into these categories. Accordingly, it would be safe to lump them all into one category as well. Expect them to be indifferent, authoritative, and brutal you. When you encounter an administrator or guard who is different, consider it a rarity.
Prisoners come from a variety of backgrounds. Prison is a confined place, packed with living bodies of every shape, color and size. You will find yourself closer to other human beings than you have ever been before, many of whom you won't like. When conditions are crowded, there is a natural tendency for people to band together for mutual protection as well as friendship. Most prisons are divided by groups. These divisions occur along racial, religious, and ideological lines, as well as gang affiliations. The administrators and guards usually know who's who, because they are kept abreast of the inside goings-on by their inmate informants.
There exists a class of people who are "at home" inside prison. They were conditioned for prison life from childhood. Starting out in juvenile correctional facilities they later made the transition to youth reformatories and adult prisons. They are totally inept as criminals and have been incarcerated any number of times. They are institutionalized and would rather be in prison than out. By conditioning, prison's safe, controlled environment is best-suited to them, a place where they are clothed, fed, and told what to do. Outside life is too difficult to grapple with for these individuals.
For another class of people, prison is a kind of homeless shelter. They don't necessarily want to be in prison, but in a sense they are forced to be. Unskilled, homeless and destitute, they enter jails and prisons for an array of minor crimes to be fed and rested-up. Prison gives them a needed break from homelessness and crack addiction. For them a six month to a year sentence is a heavenly blessing. They aren't criminals in the real sense but men and women who have been forced by economic and social conditions to take the easy way out time and time again.
For yet another class of people coming to prison is an occupational
hazard. Crime is their vocation and they take coming to prison all in stride.
It would be incorrect to type them as institutionalized, because they long
for the free world. They make no excuses for what they did and openly discuss
what they will do once back out on the streets. They intend to gang bang,
rob and peddle dope. Their time inside prison is just an extension of their
criminal lives on the outside. Many continue to profit from vices while
In everyday life, whether we find ourselves in jail or out, associations are important. We are often judged by who we associate ourselves with. The old saying, "Birds of a feather flock together" holds true. Because of the close proximity, you will be judged more harshly by your associations by others in prison. We are assumed to be of a particular character or to engage in certain activities by whom we associate ourselves with. Associations are of two types, positive and negative.
One of the first steps toward change and self-improvement is to begin to choose positive associations in our prison environment whose influences will benefit us in the long run. One good look around will tell you that there is very little actual thinking going on in our prison environments. The real thinkers are few, and that is what makes them noticeable. You will find these persons taking full advantage of the educational and vocational opportunities made available to them. They use their time wisely preparing themselves for their lives in the free world. These are the best associates, and we can usually benefit from their insights and accept their advice.
There are others who are leaders of gangs and various other factions inside prison. In love with a feeling of power over others, like actors, they play-out roles in their own little Godfather movies. They control the drugs, gambling, extortion, and other vices inside prison. Their manipulative abilities are usually honed by years of jailhouse experience. They know all the right buttons to push, and they orchestrate others in doing their bidding. Needless to say, nothing positive may be gained from these associations.
As previously stated, the choices in our associations holds itself out
to us daily. I recognize that peer pressure plays a part, also, especially
in a close environment such as prison; however, when most people see a
person take a definite stand to do something good, they will usually respect
it. The same is true for ourselves. We must take that firm stand to take
on associations that are right and in our own best interest.
In doing time in prison, time is the essential factor. Our physical lives are measured by seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years. Time measures our physical lives; therefore, we should begin to measure time and become time conscious. In this way we can utilize our time in prison and work it to our best advantage.
If you look around the prison you are in, you will see a lot of time being squandered. Valuable hours of each day are being wasted senselessly in useless pursuits. There is no harm in recreation, but when entire days are spent playing board games, cards, basketball, and watching television, then priorities have to be questioned.
An objective evaluation must be made of each and every activity that we engage in. We can determine if the activity is beneficial to us by its end results (what we actually benefit from it) and how much of our time is devoted to it. An hour game of cards or chess can be enjoyable and relaxing, but when these games last up to four or five hours, then it has become a waste of time. - The same stands true of basketball. (Don't dribble your life away.) None of these recreational pursuits can change our lives or prepare us to be stronger revolutionaries who can go out into the world to face life's challenges.
The most senseless use of time in prison has to be constant television
watching. There are adult men in prison who watch cartoons and soap operas
for hours each day. They know all the soaps' characters, plots, and can
figure all the possible scenarios of upcoming episodes. They live through
the tube. They call television the "Boob Tube" because it will make you
dumb if you aren't already. Its shameless, naked images will poison your
mind and spirit. Its fantasy will rob you of all original creative thinking
abilities. Constant television watching develops the dangerous habit of
always wanting to be entertained, which causes laziness.
Television is a no-no. Cut out television for one month and you will be surprised at what you can get accomplished in that time. Knowing how to manage time properly is important in everyday life. When we learn how to get the most out of our days, we will come to know a real sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. There are only twenty-four hours in a day. The more you begin to actually do the clearer it becomes that there never is enough time to get things done. Then you will understand the value of time.
Here are some suggestions for successful time management: develop the habit of getting up early. This can be a plus. All that is needed is an alarm clock and a little will power. Think of getting up early as getting a jump on the competition. When the rest of the world is just waking, you'll be up, cleaned, groomed, dressed and already in full motion.
Begin to make daily schedules. Think of yourself as someone with a lot to do but limited time. At night before going to bed, list all you want to do the next day. Keep this list with you and check off things off as you do them during the day. Review the list at night to see what you didn't get done. Put what you didn't do on the list for the next day.
Set short-term and long-term goals. Goals are objectives and life doesn't have much purpose without them. In order to attain your goal, you must formulate a plan. For instance, your short-term goal may be to get a G.E.D. in six months. Your plan to obtain that goal would be to study for a couple of hours a day. Beyond this, your long term goal could be to earn an Associates Degree in two years. As your plan, you would set a pace for your classes in that two year period of time.
Our time in prison should not be wasted. It is time in our lives. This
is the best time that we can possibly have to develop ourselves in all
ways. We're being fed, clothed and housed (in my case "warehoused"). There
are no bills to pay, no job to go to. To gain as much knowledge, awareness
and skills as we can should be our primary objective. If the capitalist
system has given you a lot of time, then you should leave prison with a
college degree or several good skills. Get the best out of the situation
and don't let the situation get the best out of you. This is how to "beat
the system" and walk away ahead of things. You can do all of this by learning
how to use time effectively.
Your Mental Health
Prison will destroy you mentally if you allow it to. Being in prison can be one of the most degrading experiences in life. It seems that degradation is the main purpose of prison. Dress codes, serial numbers, buzzers and bells, strip searches, inadequate privacy and lists of rules too long to remember are used as means to humiliate, tear you down and annihilate you psychologically.
Having a strong mind helps one to survive the rigors of prison. This calls for having a positive mental outlook in spite of the circumstances. Prison is a negative place. Probably some of the most negative thinking on the planet takes place inside of prisons. There are many broken people in prison who suffer from defeatism. They have failed in life because they never really try. When they see others attempting to make positive strides, they often criticize but never encourage.
Never count yourself amongst the losers. By keeping a positive outlook you will have the advantage in any situation. It can be quite difficult, but at some point all things face opposition. As prison can be one of the worst possible situations there will be many obstructions to your progress. In developing and keeping a positive mental outlook, you will remove your first and greatest obstacle --yourself.
Having a strong belief in yourself is vitally important. You must believe in yourself, that you can change your condition, that you can be a better human being. Believe that you can get out of prison and be a good father or mother or husband or wife and be a productive part of your community. You must believe in yourself. Hardly anyone else will.
How you see yourself determines how you see the world and others. Having a strong and clear mental image plays an important part in self-development. How do you see yourself? What is your self-concept? If your conception of yourself isn't strong, do you at least have some notion of the kind of individual you wish to become? Consider these things.
Thoughts are powerful. They create and give new life and can cause death. Never allow fear, anxiety, anger and doubt to run riot in your life and exert rulership over you. Negative thinking will defeat you. Be filled with confidence and optimism that problems will be resolved to your benefit. Have thoughts of patience and fortitude. Clear thinking is the best thinking there is.
Worry is the most senseless use of mental energy. I have seen others worry themselves until they become so overwhelmed that they give up all hope. We should not worry over things we have no control over. A pending appeal, a woman, unruly children at home, the skinhead scene on the streets, etc are things we shouldn't worry about. We have to realize that what is to be will be. You don't want to end-up dependent on some drug like Thorozene for your peace of mind or having some medical problem due to worry. Save yourself a lot of grief. Place focus on the improvement of your mind.
Knowledge is power. There is a vast difference between a learned person and a fool. The more one comes to know the more sensible the person will act. Education is the key. Prison will bestow the precious gift of free time to allow you to obtain knowledge and useful skills. Sublimate your energies toward gaining education and skills that can be used once you are released from prison.
Reading is fundamental.. The slave holders knew that an educated slave wouldn't make a good slave. When you look at the low reading levels of Black, White and Latino working class children and the general condition of mental slavery, we find ourselves in today, it becomes obvious. Valuable knowledge is contained in books. There are books written on every subject. When you desire to know about something, find it in a book. Books can open whole new worlds.
Reading can be a waste of time if you don't know what to read. Books are the plates on which mental food is served. Will you eat a nutritious, well-balanced meal or will it be Mac Donald's? Like looking at a menu, the choice is ours as to what we feed ourselves mentally by what we read.
Education without culture will only make an educated slave. Find the truth of history contained in books. Historical reading is the most rewarding and has a profound effect upon the psyche.
Do a great deal of reading to cultivate your mind. Developing a reading
program will help. If you're not a good reader, then keep reading and you
will surely improve. Never be intimidated by the number of pages in a book.
Start with short books and work your way up. A steady diet of two books
a week can't help but improve you.
Your Physical Health
Prison will destroy you physically if you allow it to. It would seem that is its purpose, to make you grow old, run you down, and cause you to suffer from ill-health. Knowing some steps to take a protect your physical being will help you get through prison.
Prison is a dirty place. Most prisons are old. Some date as far back as the civil war period. The drab condition of buildings over-crowding makes prison a fertile environment for pests, rodents and diseases transmitted by human contact
Physical cleanliness is essential. Always be clean and groomed. This is the first step in keeping yourself healthy while in prison. Personal cleanliness enhances self-esteem; plus, it makes a positive statement to others about you.
Concentrate on the total cleanliness of your immediate living environment (bed area, cell, etc.) Always keep dirt and dust to a minimum. Now I'm sure at some point in our lives most of us have had some contact with those "brown cousins" and prisons are full of them. But, learn to be intolerant of roaches. If you roll over and see one crawling up the wall at three in the morning, then get up and kill it! Along with rodents, they carry all kinds of diseases.
Physical contact is nearly impossible to avoid because of the close proximity of others. Probably one of the first things you will realize in prison is that everyone isn't clean. Some people are just downright funky. Besides filthy habits and bad personal odors, common diseases carried by others could range from TB to A.I.D.S. Watch what you touch and never drink or smoke after anyone. If you're in a cell with someone else, then keep a window cracked at all times to maintain an air flow. Avoid constant coughers.
Abstain from the use of cigarettes, coffee and all drugs. Those things are bad for us health-wise. Besides that, you don't want anything that is habit forming, something that you just "gotta' have" the first thing each morning. The use of habitual things robs us of our independence. We need to develop independent thinking for when we get out. Habits stifle growth toward independence.
Food is life. Most food in prison isn't food at all but what I call "filler". It has no real life substance in it and is used to fill your belly and keep you quiet and complacent. It comes canned and dehydrated, then usually gets boiled beyond taste or fried. The meat is usually ground up because of its inferior quality. Lots of potatoes and plenty of pork. Pork is the worst meat for human consumption because it's full of parasites. You'll find that because of the food people in prison suffer from many stomach ailments. As a general rule, eat less and you will be better off.
Fresh air and sunlight is essential to life. If you have access to movement outdoors then stay outside as much as possible, even during the winter months. Get lots of sunshine and breath in as much fresh air as you can. Also, it has been proven that the sun has a positive effect on human emotions and physical health. Physical exercise each day will keep you in good condition and help to relieve stress. One of the best things that we can do is stretch. Stretching keeps the body flexible. Some form of martial art would be beneficial. Prison can be an unpredictable place. Anything could happen, so it's best to keep yourself at ready.
Getting proper rest at night is important. Prison can preserve your
youthful features, because you aren't constantly on the go as free persons
are. You can walk out of prison not having aged much physically. Proper
rest with regular exercise and a good diet will carry you through. Always
get a good night's sleep.
Your Spiritual Health
Prison will destroy you spiritually if you allow it to. The experience of being locked-up can make you bitter beyond compassionate feelings for other human beings. You can easily lose what moral values you have in prison. The prevalence of evil and vice inside prison can rob you of your spiritual life if you are unaware. Man is composed of mind, body and spirit (or soul). The three are connected and form life as we know it. We know that mind exists because we think most of the time. We are certain of our bodies because we see it and have the sense of touch. But what about the spirit or soul? When we become better attuned to ourselves we know of its existence, because we "feel" it.
Constant prayer and/or meditation is the essence of spiritual life. It is man's way of calling upon and giving praise to the one great force of all the worlds. Whatever name we choose to call it, be it "Allah~ or "Yahweh" or “karma”, we must know that it is even above names.. Prayer helps us to understand our relationship to Creation and to other human beings. Prayer is the spiritual food that nourishes the human spirit.
Charity is a means of fulfilling our duties to our fellow human beings. If our-Creator is one, then His creation is one as well; therefore, it becomes our duty to act in the welfare of others, to want for others what we wish for ourselves. If we desire peace, security and happiness, then we should always extend those things to others. It is better to give than to receive. There are blessings in giving and, when we give, we will always find that we still always have enough for ourselves. A smile, a kind word, encouragement and a helping hand are all forms of charity.
Fasting is a way of purifying ourselves. By short periods of fasting, we can rid our systems of toxins, develop inner-discipline and focus our attention toward our spiritual selves. Fasting not only places us in contact with our spiritual essence but grants us at least a momentary mastery over the desire for food. It will also grant us an exact understanding of the deprivation that others in the world now suffer daily and evoke feelings of empathy within us.
Pilgrimage is a form of spiritual migration. It is a way of transcending beyond the cell, the fences and walls, those man-made barriers which stand between us and physical freedom. To perform a spiritual migration each day is to know true freedom. We all need a spiritual link to something, be it a church, temple, mosque or a distant place. It would be helpful to have persons in those places who pray daily for our well-being. It is in those directions that we should place our attention and travel spiritually each day.
Each one of us has the right to believe as we choose. Let there be no
compulsion in matters of religion. Religion is social. Its purpose is to
bring people together before Creation, but most often it divides them.
On the other hand, spirituality is personal. It is how we relate to Creation
and how we live. Spirituality lies deep within.