Top Twelve Tips for Getting Along in Prison

1) Don’t be too friendly too fast. Inmates are always suspicious of new guys. The Feds are well known for their deviousness and although the guy arriving is in fact a convicted criminal, the Feds may have made a deal to cut his incarceration time for some information from a target within the prison.

2) Don’t just walk up to a table in the chow hall and plunk yourself down. Be polite; ask if you can join the people at the table until you find an open invitation from someone to join their table.

3) Don’t ask personal questions like: “What did you do to get in here?” “How much time have you got to do?” (Leave these and other questions until the guy talks to you in his own time.)

4) Don’t act tough, because other tough guys will challenge you. They don’t get a tough man’s reputation from beating up weak guys – they get it from beating up guys who think they are tough.

5) Don’t get into gambling, shylocking, drugs, alcohol or homosexuality. If you do, you’ll be sorry.

6) Check yourself before you leave your cell. Don’t go out if you’re in a bad mood – shake it off first. Because someone’s bound to say something derogatory and if you say something back it could lead to a fight (or stabbing).

7) You can’t back down! If you do, the guy who backed you down will want to extort you – especially if he’s black. It’s known as a weakness and you don’t want that. You just have to stand up for yourself. Nine out of ten times the guy doesn’t want to fight, he just wants to see if he can back you down. Don’t throw the first punch, but don’t show any fear – and then if you have to fight, as long as you do fight, you’ll gain respect – which is what it’s all about in prison.

8 ) Be polite. Smile. Don’t sell anything. Or borrow anything. Keep yourself clean and well groomed. You’ll attract others like yourself who want to befriend you.

9) Keep away from taking sides in an argument. Be neutral – but don’t desert a friend to save your own butt.

10) Don’t ever take a staff member’s side in an incident. Don’t ever (EVER) tell on anyone. It’ll always come back on you. Don’t think you can inform on someone and get away with it – you cannot!

11) Don’t ever cut into a line. Wait your turn!

12) If you accidentally bump into someone, apologize for it right away. If someone else bumps into you and does not apologize, ask yourself if pushing for an apology is worth it, worth losing your life for.

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