What Does Being In The Hole Mean?

You just got word that your loved on is “in the hole.” What does that mean? It means he or she has been moved to a segregated area of the jail or prison and given a one-person cell. Typically, an inmate is put in the hole as a form of punishment. Being in the hole is like being grounded but on steroids. All contact with other inmates is taken away (though inmates sometimes find ways to send messages to each other using a paper kite system). Some inmates find being cut off from human contact extremely difficult to handle. Others prefer the hole and the break rules in order to get sent there.

Other Punishments

Lost visits: Most state prisons do not allow inmates who are in the hole to have visitors. This will last as long as he or she is in the hole. Each county jail decides whether to allow such inmates to have visitors. For the most part, county jails with large populations do not allow these segregated inmates to have visits, but many smaller jails do.

Commissary restrictions: Many prisons and county jails place restrictions on how much commissary an in-the-hole inmate is allowed to spend. For some facilities, inmates in the hole have zero commissaries allowed. Others reduce the number of items or the dollar amount allowed each week.

No more phone calls: Phone privileges are typically removed from inmates in the hole. Often there is no warning that an inmate is about to be placed in the hole, which means there is no time to alert friends and family. If you have not heard from your inmate, who usually calls by now, it’s possible he or she is in the hole and cannot call.

Less free time: Inmates in the hole receive their shower and yard time during off-peak hours. For example, the inmate may be allowed an hour a day out of the cell, but that hour is provided from 3am – 4am. Obviously, many inmates forgo their shower or yard time rather than be awakened at that hour.

No quarterly boxes: While in the hole, your inmate probably will not be allowed to receive quarterly boxes. In addition, he or she may lose television and radio privileges.

Stopped good time credits: Some prisons and jails stop good time credits while your inmate is in the hole. This means the usual number of days being deducted from the inmate’s sentence each month for good behavior is not being removed during hole time. They will start again once your inmate is back in general population, but the lost credits for the time in the hole will not be given back.

As you can see, being in the hole can be isolating, frustrating and boring. With nothing to do but eat, sleep and read, your letters become your inmate’s lifeline to the outside world. Write often.



About Mark Miclette 682 Articles
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.