No one plans to go to prison. But sometimes life does things that no one plans in advance.

Life after lockup isn’t for everyone. We’ve all heard stories, seen movies, and we have a pretty general knowledge about happens in prison. Naturally, you need to start making preparations as the decision has already been given.

With all that said, these preparations can certainly help you adjust to your new surrounding. But far more importantly, we’re here to tell you what to expect when you go to prison.

So, without wasting too much of your time, let’s start.

Coming To Terms With the Decision

The first thing you should do is come to terms with the fact that you are going to prison. It won’t be easy and it will take some time. It might even feel surreal when you first get there. But the sooner you come to terms with it, the better. The best way to do this is to understand that this is your life now for the duration of your sentence. You’ve made a terrible mistake and no point to hate life now.

Understand What You Can Take With You

What you can and cannot take with you in prison is an important thing to know. Naturally, authorities allow medications and certain necessities.

But you have to define what a “necessity” means. An example of necessity is glasses. People need glasses to see and the prison authorities won’t hinder your sight nor make you uncomfortable by disallowing them.

Similarly to glasses, prisons also allow certain medications. However, you won’t be allowed to take them with you on the first day. Instead, you will need to make a list of all the medications you’re using and even get in touch with a healthcare provider to have them sent over.

Other than that, you will be allowed a single pair of white socks.

Understand What You Can’t Take With You

The previous section perfectly tells what you can and cannot take. But a lot of people show up to prison with cards, board games, and even an iPad mini.

Don’t expect anything else than a pair of socks, your medication, and your glasses. Showing up to prison with anything else will result in the items being returned.

Also, you shouldn’t try and smuggle things inside as the punishments can be severe. In addition, the prison guards will perform a thorough search from top to bottom and WILL find any items that you’re hiding.

What To Expect In the First 12 Hours?

There is a reason why they call the first 12 hours as “the worst of your life”. During this time, fellow inmates will examine you, study you, provoke you, attack you, and do anything they can to break you.

If you’ve seen Shawshank Redemption, then you’ll know what we talk about.

Simply put, they will see you as fresh meat.

Unless you happened to know how to defend yourself, there isn’t anything that you can do about it. What you can do is expect it and know how to react to it.

First off, do know that it will take some time before you get there. In most cases, you will stay in jail and be directly transported. And don’t think you’ll get a good night’s rest either.

Chances are, they will wake you up pretty early (around 3-4 AM) and be transported onto a bus. And if you thought that your first day in prison is bad, wait till you see how bad it is when you’ve not had your sleep.

Your nightmare, or your life, starts to get considerably worse the moment you get to prison. Upon arriving, they will strip you completely naked and search you for any items.

This experience will be one of your worst in life. And don’t think for a second that it’s over. While the guards inspect you, you should expect verbal confrontations. Some guards, depending on why you’re in, will be much harsher with you than others.

During this time, you will feel anger, sadness, and as if your life has completely crumbled down. But you should always keep your emotions in check and restrain answering provocation from the guards.

Prison Is Much More Than Your Cell

There is a common misconception that inmates do nothing all day but sit in their cell. This couldn’t be further from the truth as day-to-day life in prison is quite “diverse”.

With that said, the level of normality in jail depends on your behavior and other factors. If you don’t behave then you won’t be allowed much free time.

Work Opportunities

The first thing you should look for while in prison is finding a job. These jobs can be on-site or off-site. On-site jobs are many and include anything from cleaning toilettes to cooking.

Off-site jobs are the ones you should be looking out for as these grant inmates the opportunity of being outside. You’ve probably seen signs on the roads that read stuff such as “Caution, inmates working”.

Well, this is an example of off-site work. Many prisons do all sorts of work for the state they operate in. For example, some do agriculture work, some focus on manufacturing, and others even dig holes and similar stuff.

It’s safe to say that these jobs might be hard and harsh, but they at least offer fresh air and the chance of something different.

The Exercise Myth

We’ve all seen movies of inmates working out in the prison yard. And we’ve all seen the expensive equipment they use. Well, we hate to break it to you but this is a Hollywood myth.

Do not expect dumbbells, weights, and any sort of exercise equipment to be made available to you. Instead, you’ll see inmates using all sorts of ways to recreate popular exercise equipment. In most cases, you’ll see fellow inmates competing in push-ups.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise. Working on your muscles is a great way to spend your free time and your time in prison in general.


Your life in prison isn’t meant to be an exciting one. In most cases, your life in prison is meant to be as boring and hard as humanly possible. Since you’re an outcast of society, guards will also treat you the same way.

But there are plenty of things to do and even people to meet that will make your life in prison a little more enjoyable.