Originally Answered: Any prison survival tips?
Let's clear up the myths and misconceptions first.
Rape in prison is very rare. There are plenty of homosexuals in prison who are more than happy to sell or give away their affections, so there is no need to take it from anyone unwillingly. Also, you lack the privacy required to do this sort of thing. Also, nobody in prison has a "bit*h". This is for the simple reason that if you ARE getting some from the homosexuals, you don't want anybody to know about it. It does happen more frequently in Youth Authority facilities, but not so much in adult facilities. Also, the showers are in full view of the guards and the other inmates. Feel free to drop the soap. Nobody is going to do much with 10 guards and 200 inmates watching.
Movies also give the impression that you will be forced to fight every day. This is also not true. An average facility of 3,000 inmates has about 2 fights per day. Fighting in prison gets you automatically sent to the hole, so it's not something you want to do unless you need to do. Even the tough guys on the yard want to stay on the yard and keep their privileges.
Depending upon your security level, prison will take on one of two forms. Medium or high security will have two man cells. They contain two beds, two storage shelves, a small desk, a sink and a toilet. There are electrical outlets in case you have a TV, Radio, etc.
Low or minimum security is more like army barracks. You have dormitory style housing with 100 - 300 people per building. The beds and lockers are in segmented dorms with 6 - 12 people per dorm, but they are completely open to the rest of the building. There are separate shower and bathroom facilities, but those are open as well.
You will first be sent to a receiving unit where you may stay for 2 weeks on up to a few months while awaiting security classification. Once you are sent to another prison from there, you will be in another receiving unit where you will wait 1 - 2 weeks until you are classified by that facility. Then you will be sent to general population.
Once you have your full privileges, you will have access to the yard and the dayroom. You may get yard one day and dayroom the next day, or you may get both every day. The yard will have a running track, grass area, workout area, and may include: Baseball, soccer, horse shoes, hand ball, and volley ball. There will be a library facility, laundry facility, health clinic, and a store you where you can purchase snacks, hygiene products, stationary, stamps, and food items once per month if you have money on your account.
They dayroom will have one or two TVs, will run movies a few times per day (nothing R rated), pay phones for calling collect, tables, playing cards, board games, etc.
The guards will be fairly indifferent to you. Inmates will be divided up by race. Whites, blacks, Hispanics, and "others". These groups will be subdivided by the county or region you are from. You are expected to take care of your "homies" and they are expected to take care of you. It is your choice whether or not you want to get involved in the politics, but avoiding them is a good way to avoid trouble. Regardless of whether you want to play politics or not, there are some rules. Stealing or snitching will get you hurt. Drinking from the same cup as someone from another race or a homosexual will get you shunned. For the most part, if you don't disrespect anyone and don't run up any debts, you will be fine. Someone will approach you when you first get there and fill you in on any special rules.
You may be assigned a job while in prison, working in the kitchen, cleaning the dayroom, etc. If you refuse to work, you will lose most of your privileges. If you are not a high school graduate, you will be assigned to a GED class. You may be assigned to vocational classes.
Most of what you have seen on TV and in movies is wrong. Most of what you think you know about prison is wrong. Some of it will be depressing or unpleasant. Some of it will pleasantly surprise you. If you obsess about being locked-up and away from your loved ones, you will have a hard time. There is a saying in prison that you only serve two months, your first and your last.
Of course, the most important thing is to just have fun and be yourself. No...wait...I'm thinking of summer camp. Well, try to make the most of it. You can get a lot of good information from http://www.prisontalk.com
Note to Mike: I laughed. I heard that same thing about the skinhead groups.