First off, let me state that I’ve never had to spend more than a night in prison and that was many, many years ago. I was accused (falsely) of grand theft auto back when I seventeen and had to spend a night in what was known as “The Tombs”. If that name doesn’t conjure up some imagery of what life might be like if you find yourself behind bars than I don’t know what will.

But, as a public service for any of you out there who might be looking at an extended stay in the big house, I'd offer up the following wisdoms for making your stay as easy and comfortable as possible.

Oh, let me preface this by stating these tips are for staying alive in a men’s prison in the United States. I’m sure there’s a whole other culture and sets of unwritten rules when it comes to women’s prisons or those located in another country. While some these might be considered universal, I'd take them on a case by case basis.

Do Not Gamble

On anything. Even though there isn’t that many distractions within the confines of the prison walls avoid the temptation to wager at all costs. Should you become indebted to some senior residents of the facility you can rest assured they will go to any and all lengths to collect what’s owed. If that means an ass kicking is forthcoming, so be it. If that means contacting their people on the outside to contact your people on the outside rest assured contact will be made. There’s no use dragging your friends and family deeper and deeper into what is already a fucked up situation.

Just Say No

While the temptation to get high might seem like a good idea in order to pass the time it’s really not. Not only is the quality of the illegal substance suspect, if you get busted you're definitely looking at having some time added to your sentence. Besides, the last thing you need is to start jonesing for that next fix and becoming somebody else’s bitch in order feed your habit.

Avoid The Gay

Unless of course, that’s your lifestyle. But for the straight folks be advised there’s a lot of homophobes behind those prison walls who would like nothing better than to kick the shit out of the entire homosexual community. It’s sorta like the whole guilt by association thing. That doesn’t mean you have to turn yourself into a homophobe either. It’s just easier and smarter to remain as neutral as you can when it comes to sexual matters while incarcerated.

Don’t Be A Pussy

Even if you’re the proverbial ninety eight pound weakling and some fucking maniac inmate the size of a gorilla starts in on you always try and fight back. If you haven’t figured it out yet, much of the prison population wouldn’t qualify as shining examples of human behavior. Much like a pack of wolves, they can detect signs of weakness and will descend upon you in much the same manner. That goes for the prison guards too.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil

That’s probably good advice for life on the outside but it’s especially important when you're trapped within a closed community of unsavory characters. Don’t get involved in prison politics. If you see something wrong it’s best to feign ignorance than it is to jump in and try and correct the situation. Most importantly, do not; under any circumstances become a snitch. Should you choose that route and get discovered you're likely to find yourself on the wrong end of a shiv.

Make The Most Of Your Time

Since time is in abundance and boredom is sure to set in try and get involved in any activities offered by the prison staff. There might be some educational courses that are offered and if here are try and take advantage of them. Most prisons have a decent library so reading is a good idea. Also, try and get some exercise. The quality of prison food isn’t exactly what might be described as gourmet so any method to improve your physical health would work to your advantage.

Make Plans For When You Get Out

The most important part of this would include plans for not going back in. Try learning a trade so that you can get a job once those doors fly open and your left to your own devices. That might include distancing yourself from some past associations and reinventing certain portions of your life. It might be hard in the beginning but at least you won’t wind up where you started from.

I’m sure there a bunch of other unspoken rules when it comes to making your stay behind bars safer and more comfortable. I think the best advice is to keep your eyes open all the time, take nothing for granted and be as inconspicuous as possible to both your fellow inmates and the prison guards.

I've been informed by a nameless user how else to cope with being in prison:

Apparently, even if you aren't gay your semen is still a valuable commodity. Since it's loaded with protein it's in demand by the body builders and they'll take it any way they can get it. It's like some sort of "magic elixir" to the exercise freaks.

One more reason to stay good.

Or, not get caught.

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