3 Strategies For Staying Sane And Safe In Jail

by Grace Motley

The prospect of going to jail for the first time is disconcerting at best and downright frightening at worst. If you are faced with the prospect of doing time behind bars, it's very important that you keep a clear head and make a realistic and workable game plan so that your stay in jail is as safe as possible. Although doing time in real life rarely mirrors the physically dangerous circumstances portrayed in dramatic television shows and movies, you still may run into trouble with other inmates as well as experience substantial amounts of anxiety. Here are three ways to keep safe and sane while behind bars:

Get Your Affairs in Order

Even if it's still unclear whether you'll be doing actual time for your alleged crimes because your case has not yet come to court, making a game plan for the worst case scenario will help immensely.  For instance, talk with family members about taking care of your minor children in the event that you are incarcerated, and make sure that you've got a plan for your pets as well. If you do end up doing time, it will be much less stressful if you know that things are being taken care of on the outside.

Adjust Your Attitude

You may think that a tough exterior attitude will help keep you from becoming a target of prison bullies, but it actually works the opposite way. A tough attitude may get you pegged as a challenge or as someone who needs to be "taken down" a bit. On the flip side, do your best not to exhibit fear because this may also attract bullies. A calm, middle-of-the-road approach is best. Don't be too quick to join groups or make friends, but at the same time, treat others with respect.

  • Avoid accidentally touching others -- it may be looked on as deliberate.
  • Don't touch anyone else's food or reach across someone else's tray in the dining hall.
  • Don't touch objects belonging to other inmates.
  • Don't engage in gossip in any form.

It's only natural that you'll make friends while incarcerated, but doing so slowly and with caution will minimize your chances of becoming willingly caught up in prison drama.

Stay Occupied

If there is a chance that you may be sent to a correctional facility as a result of going to trial, find out in advance what educational opportunities the facility offers, and plan to take advantage of anything that could make your life better when you get out. For instance, if you can receive vocational training while in jail, finding gainful employment after you are released will be much easier. You'll also experience significantly less stress and anxiety if your days are spent on productive pursuits and if you have clear goals.

Also, working closely and cooperatively with your criminal defense attorney, like those found at Gevirtz & Born, prior to being sentenced will make navigating the justice system much less stressful.