The definitive guide to surviving federal incarceration from a prison-rights advocate currently serving time.
Today, nearly 10 million Americans are imprisoned or under some form of judicial supervision. Chances are that someone you know is or has been imprisoned, or has a family member who is or has been imprisoned. Parents, adult children, relatives and coworkers of the inmate all suffer. No one is immune, and yet virtually no one knows what to expect.
The list of dangers is long. Gangs, prison rape, and the unique prison culture can endanger an inmate physically. Being locked in solitary confinement for any length of time leaves inmates vulnerable to a host of psychological stressors. The web of rules laid out by the prison administration can trip up even inmates who just want to do their time.
Information that is accurate, timely and realistic offers a safe road. This definitive guide teaches individuals facing incarceration, prisoners who are already inside, and their friends and family everything they need to know to protect themselves mentally, emotionally and physically.
Each thorough chapter in this book has been compiled by an advocate currently serving time at a federal penitentiary. His insider’s view of this unknown world guides readers through the difficulties of confinement. Equally as important, he keeps readers physically safe by explaining how to avoid the near-constant conflicts found inside prisons.
Readers will discover:
• A brief history of the Bureau of Prisons and a breakdown of the current inmate population.
• Details about the different security levels and special administrative facilities.
• The duties of prison administrators, staff, healthcare professionals, and religious and recreational staff.
• What to expect during admissions, and descriptions of the different types of housing.
• How to greet cellmates for the first time, and whether to reveal the reason for incarceration.
• Navigating racial and cultural divisions at different security levels and during transport.
• Obtaining goods and services from the chow hall, the commissary, the laundry, and the underground inmate economy.
• Typical daily schedules, controlled movements and inmate counts, and how to carve out a life between mandatory activities.
• The best ways to avoid gangs and fights, and options that provide the greatest protection if a fight cannot be avoided.
• The availability of good conduct time, compassionate release, pardons, clemency and exoneration.
• The knowledge required to avoid scams, schemes, theft, and other problems.
• The types of jobs available, pay grades, duty restrictions, and how to obtain the job that best fits the inmate’s needs.
• Different forms of currency including the Trust Fund/Commissary account, stamps, other goods, and special services.
• Medical and psychological services like dental and medical care (including medical care for transgender inmates), psychological services, the Residential Drug Abuse Program, and sex offender programs.
• Visitation policies and procedures for inmates and visitors, including contact information for groups that will visit inmates in any federal facility nationwide.
• Educational opportunities ranging from GED certificates to ESL, ACE, community college and university courses, and self-development classes.
• Different types of entertainment and recreation.
• Religious services, religious diets, and the types of religious clothing inmates have the right to access.
• How to respond to disciplinary actions from the moment an infraction is discovered through the hearing and the appeal.
• Surviving the special housing unit (SHU), or solitary confinement, and how to reintegrate into the general population after time in the SHU.
• The Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (IFRP).
• The availability of drugs, alcohol, contraband, tattoos, pornography and gambling.
• Consensual sexual relations and sexual assault.
In addition to providing thorough and comprehensive information, the author encourages inmates to build a better life for themselves. Even individuals incarcerated for life or for terms so long they might as well be life sentences can create opportunities for personal growth.
Nearly a dozen appendices provide additional details, contact information for groups that can ease the prisoner’s life, and descriptions of other useful publications.
Don’t be afraid. Be informed. The Federal Prison Guidebook is your first and best step on this journey.