Many of us have a love one that is experiencing a situation that involves the court system. A.G.Q. spent close to 13 years in Federal Prisons throughout the United States of America and is here to answer any question to help you understand the process.
How do you readjust to society?
Start planning on what you want to do while you are in prison. When you get released, take it one day at a time and don't let anyone or anything put pressure you. You'll know when you're ready to engage in activities outside of your comfort zone. Lean on your support team if you have one available to you. The most important rule is: stay away from negative influences. It's easy to go back to old habits; it's hard to find a new way. Surround yourself around positive situations.
How do you survive in prison?
Be yourself. Don't try to fit in where you don't belong. When you walk a certain way and is trying to accomplish positive things, inmates recognize that and respect it. If you act hard and isn't hard, well, nobody has time to figure out if you're really that way. In some instances, hard core inmates will shield you from negative circumstances. Just be yourself.
Is prison anything like what we see on television?
It depends on your security level. There are some prisons that are like the images on tv but most of them aren't. The higher the security level, more respect is demanded. Be respectful and don't try to be tough if you aren't. Set out a goal that you want to achieve and act upon it. Don't align yourself with negative influences or someone who has negative intentions. Your all objective is to go home as soon as possible.
What is prison like?
Modern day slavery. The first thing you have to learn is how to obey orders. You have rights in prison, but you have to obey the orders that the CO's (correctional officers) tell you to do. Your family can send you money so you can buy things from the commissary (prison store). This is where you get better items. If you're not as fortunate as others, prisons provide: a designated housing unit for you, 3 free meals per day, 2 institutional outfits that can be changed every 6 months, 1 pair of boots that can be changed once a year, toilet paper, cheap deodorant, and you can watch tv. You have to stand up for counts that the prison has set. Meaning, the prison guards will announce stand-up count and you have to stand up in your assigned cell; be quiet, and wait until the officer walks pass your cell because he's counting you to make sure you didn't escape. Once he announces that the count is clear, you can resume back to normal operations. Other than that, every prison have their own set of rules.
How do you maintain a relationship with your family and friends?
Be active in their lives. Call and check on your love ones. Write your spouse and children letters. Give them encouragement when necessary. Provide for them if you are able it. Listen to them if they need someone to talk to. Give advice if they ask for it.
How much money do you need for commissary (food store)?
nIn Federal prison, you are allowed to spend $340 per month at the commissary (prison store). The first 2 months of incarceration, buy everything that you need. Ex. mp3 player, jogging suits, gym shoes, deodorant, lotion, headphones, food, etc. After you've bought all your necessities, you can budget on how you want to buy from the commissary. You have to have a job while in prison, but they don't pay that much money and they pay you once a month.
How was the food?
They have normal food in prison. Depending on the day, BREAKFAST include: oatmeal, eggs, milk and cereal, sausage, toast, fruit, cake, coffee, juice, etc. LUNCH include: hot dogs, chicken / chicken items, beef items, pork items, fish, pasta, rice, beans, salad, fruit, cake, juice, etc., Dinner include: chicken items, beef items, hot dogs, pasta, rice, beans, salad, fruit, cake, etc.
Were there help groups that assisted you with problems?
Everyone is assigned a counselor and a case manager. Church is offered whereas, you can talk to the preacher if need to. They offer programs if you have a substance abuse problem. There are direct communication outlets available if you feel that you are in danger in any circumstance.