How To Go To Jail: A Beginner's GuideSubmitted by Chris Dishwashski on Thu, 07/25/2013 - 02:02
“When you get in the endzone, act like you've been there before.”
-Attributed to either Bear Bryant or Vince Lombardi. Regardless it is good advice.
I told my friend Tommy that I was going to finally write my guide to proper jail etiquette so he gave me a couple more pointers to add which he learned when he was (improperly and unjustly) imprisoned 20 years ago. You will find these below, without distinction, among the things I've personally learned from my own personal junkets to the hokie for the terrible offenses of protest, police filming, fluffy green plant possession, and that one high-speed chase that earned me 9 months of county time.
With America's summer and autumn protest season well upon us, I thought I'd write a dos and absolute don'ts guide for first-time jail visitors. My hope is that this information will keep my brothers and sisters in liberty safe. This guide is for first-time visitors. If you've been before and don't already know this stuff then there is no hope for you, though this guide may help.
Part Zero: Pre-Jail Dos and Don'ts
1. Don't go to jail on a friday or saturday
You'll just have to sit a weekend whether you are innocent or not. Sundays are great lazy days for a protest, and you will only have to sit one night in jail when you are eventually tasered and wrestled to the ground by the police.
Part One: Booking
1. No innocent person has ever been booked into jail.
This is and will be the attitude of every C.O. (Corrections Officer) you encounter when you first arrive to jail. Expect to be treated as such.
2. No judges work in booking
None of the jail employees of the jail can tell you anything about your charges, potential sentences, or anything else. They only know how to ask questions, not answer them.
3. Be polite and go with the flow
You never know which guards are friends with certain inmates and will help to use any information you volunteer to them against you. Besides that, the alternative to giving your fingerprints or anything else voluntarily is being tasered and strapped into a chair and fingerprinted.
4. If you have a medical condition, mention it specifically.
You will be read a list of medical conditions and told to answer yes or no if you have any of them. Point out and directly talk about any you actually have, otherwise they will check no automatically.
5. Your first call is free. Make it count.
Call someone who can spread the word for you to anyone who needs to know that you are in jail. The phones in the cell blocks cost $2 per minute - avoid using them completely if possible.
Part Two: Entering Your New Home
1. Enter the block and head straight to your cell
Make your bed. Arrange your hygiene products on the available shelf. If the entire shelf is full move your cellmate's stuff to one side and arrange your items. This will show that you are no newbie and take control of your situation. Demonstrate your territory.
2. Go back into the block and watch TV
This will take your mind off things and also establish that you've been to jail before, you know the procedure and you're just one of them.
Part Three: Day-To-Day Living
1. Speak when spoken to
2. There are no lawyers in jail. At least, no good ones
Don't talk about your case. No one else cares and no one else can help you.
3. Maintain perfect hygiene
This means shower every day, don't put your fingers in your mouth, always wear your sandals, wash your hands frequently.
4. Only play partner card games if you're good
5. Never interrupt someone who is on the phone
6. Don't make eye contact. This is considered threatening behavior.
7. Don't blow your nose at the table
8. If someone asks what you're in for, keep in mind that they don't actually care. They are probably trying to make a dominance play, looking for a reason to victimize you. Play it one of two ways:
a. Tell the truth.
b. Lie. Say you are on a P.O. (probation officer) hold. They will ask who your P.O. is. Make up a name from a distant county. This should satisfy them.
Part Four: Your Cellmate
1. Develop an alternating shit cycle. Only go during open block hours, not during lockdown. Otherwise be absolutely sure he is asleep. If not, be quick about it and flush immediately - aka the courtesy flush.
Part Five: Feeding Time
1. Wait for the line to form and go to the end of it. Besides being polite this serves a few other purposes, including
2. It allows everyone else to be seated so you don't invade someone else's territory and piss them off.
3. You will get a chance to see what is for lunch to trade for.
Never break up a fight
Don't touch anything that isn't yours
NEVER MAKE FRIENDS IN JAIL
Offer your desert in trade for vegetables loudly. Others will likely give you their veggies. Get all you can in two scoops off their tray - don't make them wait for you to take their food.
Don't talk about cigarettes - this is instigation and provocation.
Don't have an opinion about gangs, other inmates, or any fights or other events you may have witnessed in the jail.
DO have a loud and vocal opinion against the jail, its staff, and the legal system in general.