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1.MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS
Don't start sh*t and keep to your own.
2.NEVER BECOME INDEBTED
As a supervisor in a level 4 prison... Don't put yourself in ANY kind of debt EVER.
3.TREATS ARE TRAPS
If you find a candy bar on your bunk, DON'T even touch it.
If you see something on your bunk like a cupcake or treat, yell whoever's sh*t this is to come and get it. It's a trap. If you eat it or use it you'll be in debt to a prisoner..and that's NOT fun.
4.GET BIG AND STAND UP TALL
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 bitch 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
Always, always fight back. Even if you know you’ll get your ass 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.
6.POOP WITH ONE FOOT FREE
If you’re taking a sh*t, 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.
7.DON'T MESS WITH THE GUARDS
Don’t f**k with the COs. The guards will make your life hell more than inmates.
Never talk to a CO like a cop on the street ("Just do your job, I pay your salary, etc") because, yes, they will make you life hell. You don't have to talk to them (and shouldn't) but at the same time let them do their job and do your time.
8.TAKE HYGEINE SERIOUSLY
Get bigger before going in, don't give anyone your food and sneeze inside your shirt -- hygiene is a pretty big thing. No one inside is your friend.
9.GET THE LAY OF THE LAND AND STAY SOBER
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.
10.DON'T TALK TO GUARDS ALONE
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.
11.KEEP YOUR REAL SELF SECRET
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.
12.DON'T BE AN IDIOT
The whole finding the biggest dude and picking a fight is BS and stupid. Don't. Trust me, a fight will find you.
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.
14.STAY TIGHT-LIPPED, STAY BROKE AND STAY ON IMPORTANT PEOPLES' GOOD SIDES
3 time ex convict here...don't get friendly or speak with the CO's unless absolutely necessary...so basically only if they require a response, ie"What size do you wear?" or such. Don't run your mouth to other inmates, no bragging or exaggerating or lying, because you will be found out. Do NOT ask anyone what they are in for.
And for havens sake, DO NOT borrow ANYTHING! DO NOT ask for anything. If you are broke, stay that way. You will be given toothpaste and soap and a couple stamped envelopes every month and you will have an opportunity to work. Be patient and earn what you need. Just in case you weren't listening, I will say it one more time...DO NOT BORROW ANYTHING FROM ANYONE!
And last but not least, don't back down. Don't allow anyone to humiliate you or put you on your knees. Don't let anyone take your things. Fight back, even if you get your ass kicked, and keep defending yourself until they decide you are too much trouble to bother with. Don't make the mistake of thinking that if you don't fight you won't get in trouble, because it isn't true. It doesn't matter who starts a fight, or who gets hurt. They don't care whether or not you threw a punch. Every fight in prison is a "mutual combat" and everyone involved goes to the hole, so you just as well give it all you have and get some punches in.
Find your area. Here in California, you find your county or area code. Each area has a shot caller. These are your people and you may even find someone you know. So basically find out who your shotcaller is, get on his good side, and hang with that group.
15.STATE THE OBVIOUS
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.
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