The specter of life inside a prison is frightening, to say the least. There are problems that will arise and create new difficulties…different than anything you will ever encounter anywhere else. In this very strange new world you will find problems that can only exist amongst inmates and prison guards.
Life Inside a Prison – Respect One Another
The primary issue is that there are certain people who do not respect anyone else’s individuality or rights. They try to be superior or at least act that way. They want to be feared and recognized as a tough guy, the toughest…the “king of the mountain”. Sadly, this kind of person is very often found inside a prison…it may even be what got them there in the first place. It will be a hard time for your loved one to cope with this kind of situation. This is especially rough for the kind of person whose natural inclination is to avoid conflicts and fights.
Some say that living inside the prison is a matter of “survival of the fittest.” But it is important to understand that fighting is not an acceptable alternative to (or method of keeping the) peace. Aside from the obvious dangers of being hurt, wounded or even killed…there is also the very real threat of being tossed in the hole or moved to a higher security level prison for fighting. Even with the risk of being tossed in the hole, there are still plenty of violent inmates. Mostly, these people are antisocial by nature. It is imperative that your loved one stay far far away from them. The best defense is to avoid any contact with this kind of people. Their behaviors are very unpredictable and incredibly risky.
Bullying is common inside the prison, and there are instances where it seems that an individual can’t help but be involved. How is someone supposed to handle these situations? It is important that an inmate carry themselves with an air of confidence so as not to become a target. Weakness, or perceived weakness, will make someone an easy mark. Don’t let that happen. The best way to avoid being bullied is to make it seem like something that is far too risky for the other guy to undertake.
Even more important than how to handle the external forces of bullying is how an individual manages their own internal well-being. Don’t let the evilness that is prison life eat away at your morale.
This may seem like an odd statement, but just because a individual is in prison doesn’t mean they are a bad person. People end up in prison for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with being criminal. Keep kindness inside your heart and focus on survival.
If you are supporting a loved one in prison, you know who they are and what they are truly like…what their character is like. You know that your loved one is trustworthy and kind even if society doesn’t view them that way.
Healthy relationships with people on the outside are good ways of maintaining a bit of normalcy in their lives. Let them share their thoughts about their lives inside the prison…give them a place to vent. Be aware that their life of confinement may change their behavior, but keeping in touch with you is their best shot at sanity.
One of the toughest issues of all is when there is disagreement or conflict between guards and inmates. It is difficult to say why some inmates choose to pick fights with other inmates or guards…some just have their own agenda and want to suck other unsuspecting souls into trouble.
It is important to remember that prison guards are not hired to cause trouble, and for the most part most of them are decent folks just trying to do their jobs. They are there to keep things in order and maintain the safety of the facility. But in rare instances there are those bad seeds who think that just because they are “in charge” that they can be a tyrant. If this happens it is important that you support your loved one and help them as much as you can through this really frightening situation. Keep a record of everything they send you…every word, every letter every communication.
If you become concerned for the safety of your loved one you do have options albeit limited ones. You can call the warden to discuss the issues directly…but only do this if you feel you can handle the situation effectively. You can also hire an attorney to address the issues on your loved ones behalf…if you have the financial resources. I would definitely start with those two options. But whatever you do DO NOT mention your fears on the phone, in email or in postal letters. You can talk about the facts of the situation (“he said this” or “he did that”) but do not say you are afraid for their safety or life. Every communication is monitored so if you discuss such things your loved one will be placed in “protective custody” which means simply that they will be put in solitary confinement.
If the situation gets truly out of hand you should contact your congressmen as soon as possible and start a congressional investigation. I believe you will find that your senators and representatives have congressional aides who do nothing but handle issues with the Federal Bureau of Prisons so they are expert at it. Don’t do this without the knowledge and consent of your loved one in prison though, because there will be consequences. But if push comes to shove, you want to make sure that as many people as possible are aware of what is going on….it is the only sure way to protect your loved one.
I guess the bottom line is this…be there to guide and support your loved one who is in prison. Their life is already a living hell…being incarcerated and away from you is the worst possible punishment. Give them all the love and help they need to survive this horrible situation.