03. First Day Of Prison
"The best thing about your first night in prison is that you only have to do it once."
- Walter Pavlo, co-author of Stolen Without A Gun
Once you have completed your intake processing, you will be moved from the main prison or administration building to the Camp or Low where this will be your first interaction with other inmates. There is not much additional information that you are going to get from prison staff at this point, because their job of processing you into the institution is complete. You are now one of the many inmates on the compound.
There is some apprehension as a result of leaving staff and being put into general population. For many people, this is not only their first time in prison, but their first time speaking directly with inmates. There is nothing to be afraid of and you will quickly find that the other inmates are understanding of the shock of the first day.
The clothes that you received during your initial intake probably do not fit because they just have a limited inventory in Receiving and Discharge. Once you get to your facility will receive a mesh bag for your clothes, towels, wash clothes, and bedding. At some point you will receive
Everyone in prison has done a first day and a first night in prison, and most everyone is sympathetic to the situation. Other inmates will are pretty good about welcoming you into the community and letting you in on how the compound operates.
There is an Orientation class that every inmate must attend and everyone is given a copy of the Admissions and Orientation (A&O) Handbook. An example of the materials contained in a handbook can be found in the Resources section of this topic or you can go to the BOP website and get the one for the institution to which you were designated. Each correctional institution is represented on the BOP site and information is broken down into four major areas:
- Location and description
- Visiting Information -Overview and regulations
- How To Send Things Here - Mail, money, USPS parcels
- Resources for sentenced inmates - A&O Handbook, Commissary List and Legal Activities
Admission and Orientation are supposed to occur within four-to-five days of arriving in prison but expect delays. It entails meeting with the Unit Team that will supervise the inmate, being introduced to the heads of the various departments, reviewing the institution’s policies and standard operating procedure contained in a handbook (each inmate will receive a copy), and assigned a job.
The institution A&O Program will also provide the inmate with an awareness of the:
- Inmate's rights and responsibilities;
- Institution's program opportunities;
- Institution's disciplinary system; and
- Operations at the institution