How to Survive Prison

Most people know the importance of working out and staying physically fit to survive prison, but mental strength and attitude play a huge role in getting through incarceration.

Expand Your Skills

If the prison offers classes, sign up for some. Whether it is music lessons, anger management or business math, anything you learn is something you didn’t know before. If the prison doesn’t offer classes or you are not eligible to take them, read lots of books. Choose topics that interest you and get them from the prison library or have them sent from the publisher to you in prison.

Better the World

Does your prison have a dog-training program or a volunteer center that makes things for the needy? Anything that you can do to improve the world will make your time feel productive. Talk to your counselor about the opportunities available at your home prison. Find out what it takes to be part of it and take those steps.

Help Others

While it is important to mind your own business in prison and not rock the boat, as you settle in, you might see opportunities where you can help other inmates. For example, an inmate who has a learning disability might like some help writing letters home. If you have a skill, such as speaking another language, some of your incarcerated acquaintances might enjoy having you teach them or read with them.

Video: See how some inmates turn their lives around while inside prison

Look Toward the Future

One of the most difficult things for inmates to do once they’re released is figuring out how to restart their lives. You can spend the time in prison making plans and decisions so when you are released you hit the ground running. Think about where you can work and live and have friends and family spread the word on your behalf. Analyze your interests and some realistic career possibilities that will incorporate those interests.

Final thoughts: You are going to do your time, whether it is spent laying around being angry or turning it into a learning experience. Finding creative ways to improve your mind, the world and the lives of others will help you survive prison and will prepare you better for the outside world.

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writes about inmates, jails, prisons, courts and the lives of people who live and work within the United States Criminal Justice System. His mission can be summed up in a single word; transparency.