If you’ve been sentenced to jail recently, a place you never thought you might end up, you’re surely pretty afraid. Bail bonds can get you out of prison but if the evidence of guilt is strong, you will stay in prison pending trial

You can be quite sure that the months (and probably years) to come would be very complicated, and potentially dangerous, from not knowing exactly what to expect while incarcerated, to reading horror stories of inmates being jumped, beaten up, and even killed while completing their sentence.

While you can never really be “clean” when fulfilling your sentence, there are certainly some things that you can do to mitigate the amount of danger that you will face on the inside during your time. There are also a variety of things to stop doing to stay out of trouble when completing a jail term, as well.

We will go through some of the most critical points in this article on What to Do (and Not to Do) to Survive a Prison Term.

What to Do to Survive a Jail Term (and Not to Do)
The following is a series of tips from people who have spent more than a decent amount of time in jail, and who have escaped relatively unscathed their sentences.

It is important to remember that implementing these recommendations would not always ensure your safety until we dig in — there is always a possibility for issues to arise in prison. However, on the other hand, it is a sure recipe for disaster not to obey these recommendations.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what to do and not to do to mitigate your chances during your prison term of facing trouble or risk.

Show everybody respect
Perhaps the most important rule of all inside the prison walls is that anyone you come into touch with must be given respect.

Concerning other prisoners, appreciation is shown by:

  • Refraining from glaring at other people or even looking at them
  • Refraining from studying other cells
  • Ensuring that you do not take the place of another person in the “chow hall”
  • Refraining from in-line cutting
  • Refraining from criticizing people or touching them
  • Although these laws are simply an extension of society’s unspoken rules outside the prison walls, the effects of not observing them while in jail are far more serious. In other words, you want to be extra careful not to, even accidentally, break these laws.

As to how to show respect to prison guards and other employees, you would ultimately want to obey their orders exactly as issued and do so without complaint. The easiest way to think about your relationship with prison staff is that they don’t like you for any reason, but they’ll find any reason they can’t like you. You have a pretty good chance of actually flying under the radars of the prison guards as long as you do what you’re told, and do it compliantly.

(Note: As we’re going to talk about in the next segment, you don’t want to be too nice to other prisoners or prison guards. Even though you don’t have an ulterior motive, your sincere politeness might be misunderstood by both prisoners and guards as being patronizing.)

Tight-Lipped and Poker-Faced
You’re definitely familiar with the term “whatever you say can and will be used against you” because you’ve been through the legal system.

That doesn’t only apply to your court case, but it also extends to your jail stint. And it refers to more than just getting your words used in a legal way against you.

What we say, here, is that inmates and guards can and will use your words against you in some way or another, as well as your acts.

With regards to other prisoners, in the future, any information you supply them with will basically be used as weapons against you, or as excuse for hurting you in any way. Basically, you want to avoid telling someone inside the prison something that might be taken the wrong way, taken out of context, or come off as offensive.

In addition, you can avoid such issues (such as religion, race, etc.) that may cause conflicts with other inmates. This, again, is almost a rule of thumb for life in general, but, again, it can be tragic to not obey this rule when incarcerated.

In addition, you want to stop expressing any emotion during your prison term as best as possible, whether positive or negative. Other prisoners are likely to take note of something that makes you happy, sad , angry, and more, and somehow use this data to take advantage of you.

As for the guards, there’s no way to get them to “respect” you, like we mentioned earlier; they’re either going to stay neutral with you, or they’re not going to like you … so they’re never going to really think of you as anything other than an imprisoned human. You certainly don’t want to try and joke or pal around with them in any way, with that in mind. Not only is this not going to work anyway, but it will lead other prisoners, of course, to believe you’re a snitch or something along those lines.

While we are on the subject, for any reason whatsoever, you should never snitch on another prisoner. There’s nothing to gain by doing so first of all; your punishment is your punishment, and it’s not going to be reduced because you told a guard about suspicious goings-on inside the jail. Secondly, and more critically, your fellow prisoners will learn that you have snitched to prison officials and will undoubtedly pursue revenge as soon as possible.

And in the unlikely case in which the prison administration chooses to put you in protective custody or move you to another facility, word will inevitably get out, and for the remainder of your term, sadly, you will have a permanent target on your head.

And in the unlikely case in which the prison administration chooses to put you in protective custody or move you to another facility, word will inevitably get out, and for the remainder of your term, sadly, you will have a permanent target on your head.

Keep to your own race, but prevent gangs
Sadly, in most prison scenarios, racial harmony usually doesn’t exist. Most people stick to hanging around members of their own race, for the most part, in conditions in which inmates are “free” to communicate with each other (such as the chow hall or the yard).

Now, this does not mean that prisoners of other races or ethnicities are to be overlooked, and it certainly does not mean that you can insult them, either. As we said earlier, respect is essential: failure to show respect to a person of another race or ethnicity could cause other members of the same race or ethnicity to consider you a goal, even if done unintentionally.

On the other hand, fraternizing with members of other races or ethnicities on a deeper level might cause members of your own race to alienate you. Unfortunately, if this happens, you have little to no chance of “fitting in” with another party of prisoners, and will thus be left all alone. Needless to say, you don’t want to witness this risky situation.

It’s not a good idea at all, as far as joining gangs goes.

First of all, joining one gang would effectively trigger other gang members to put a target on your head (which they would not have done had you not joined the gang in the first put). Along with that, there is also no real guarantee that if a problem occurs, your “fellow” gang members can defend you from these rivals.

Secondly, if you swear loyalty to a gang, you will be forced to do things in jail that will, very literally, lead to your being in jail for much longer than your original sentence. Of course, you can’t actually refuse to obey an order if you’ve pledged allegiance to a gang, so your choices are to commit an extra crime and possibly get arrested, or to face the violent repercussions of refusing to follow orders.

Finally, after your probation is done, your membership in a gang will not end. Until you are “on the outside,” you will always be expected to do your bosses’ bidding, or face the consequences again. Unfortunately, this means that, for the remainder of your life, you will be at risk of being arrested, injured, or killed, with virtually zero chance of breaking this vicious loop.

Avoid intimate affairs, gambling, drugs
Since many of the implications of not preventing them are similar, we’ve lumped these three things together. We’ll go over each one separately in more detail, though.

Gambling in jail is extremely risky, particularly when done with people you don’t really “know.” Essentially, you run the risk of running up a debt that you can’t instantly pay back, but that your counterpart would automatically expect to receive in full. Needless to say, when you owe something to another inmate, be it money, food, or belongings, there is very little leeway involved. And, as we’ve spoken about before, it’s not exactly easy to come across these things when imprisoned; if you can’t pay up, you’ll end up facing significant repercussions from the person to whom you’re indebted.

Drugs, of course, can, for a variety of reasons, be avoided at all costs while in prison. For one thing, drug possession is, of course, illegal anyway; those who are arrested in possession of drugs (and even simply smuggling) will almost definitely see their sentence tackled for a number of years. “In addition, if you can somehow get away with possessing and taking drugs while in jail, you run a big risk of overdosing and/or contracting a deadly disease; in any case, if it can be called that, the risk definitely outweighs the” reward. Finally, if you’re in possession of drugs, if word gets out, this will also place a mark on your head, as other prisoners will undoubtedly do whatever they can to get ahold of whatever it is that you have on you.

As with sexual ties, this is another issue that should be avoided at all costs in jail. First of all, the vast majority of inmates either look down on homosexual relationships or at least behave like they do in order not to stand up.