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   The judge may allow you to self-surrender to the prison where you have been designated.

If not, you will be handed over to the US Marshal services. This is a particularly nasty law enforcement agency. Do not speak with the Marshal about your case or anything else for that matter; just because you have been convicted does not mean that you can't be charged with something else.

   If you're allowed to self-surrender, then you'll already be making all those obvious arrangements

like finding someone to look after your kids, dog or house etc. But don't overlook dental care. That's because the choice and quality of care is much superior outside prisons. Certain treatments that you take for granted may not be available in prison, or won't be as good. After all, if you're in prison and you don't use the prison dentist, where else are you going to go to have your teeth fixed? It's not like you can easily find someone else! So, if there's time to do it, consider having a dental check-up before you self-surrender and get anything important fixed. Also, if you wear glasses you may want to have an eye test and get new lenses, assuming you need them. As with dental care, you've got a better choice of lenses and frames outside prison.

   Most prisons allow magazines and books to be sent to inmates only sent directly from the publisher

If you're self-surrendering and you know which prison you're going to be in, consider taking out a subscription for magazines/journals, and order a couple of books from Amazon to read. Do this a couple of days before you self-surrender. Alternatively, give your friends and family a shopping list of books/magazines and let them take care of ordering things. There's no web access in prisons, so make your selections before you enter prison.

   When you enter prison, try to concentrate on what's going on inside prison

because time will seem to pass faster that way. It's difficult not to think about the things
you're missing out on in the outside world, but torturing yourself with it will just make you misearable. It certainly won't get you out of prison any faster. Instead, concentrate on the things you can control in prison, not the things that are out of your reach outside the prison fence.

   If you are placed in transit to prison, you may be sent to USP Atlanta, to their hold-over facility.

If you are designated for a federal prison camp or an FCI, you may be taken directly there without going to Atlanta. Many people who are designated for low, medium or high level prisons go to Oklahoma City as their first stop. Atlanta hold over is a horrible place. You will be placed in a two man cell with up to three other inmates for 23 hours a day. You will only be allowed out to take a shower and use the telephone for one hour. The only thing you will be able to do is sleep. If you are fortunate you will have one of the bunk beds, if not you will have to sleep on the floor under the bunk or next to the toilet. You may not receive a mattress to sleep on, depending on the availability.

   Do not be overly friendly with your cell mates but do talk.

Many have bee in prison before and will be able to give you information about the prison you are being sent to as well as the system itself. You will have to judge for yourself whether to believe any of the information. Use common sense and try and figure out if that person has a reason to lie or mislead you. Some convicts will try to intimidate new inmates or mislead them for fun. Be careful.

   Try to blend into the background when you are in prison.

Don't draw attention to yourself if you can avoid it. Remember that the nail that stands out gets hammered in. Watch and learn.

   Don't stare at other prisoners. Although you simply may be curious about them ...

the other person can completely misinterpret what's happening. In prison, if someone stares at you it usually means they feel intense hostility or disapproval towards you. Alternatively, staring is a way of showing sexual interest. It's OK to look at people, but don't stare at them. There's a difference between looking and staring.

   Try to find out as much as possible about how the system works.

CPC's guidebook helps prepare you for prison, read it. You can be punished for breaking a rule that you didn't know existed. Breaking the rules will not only piss off personnel but inmates as well. It makes life harder for everyone. Ignorance of the rules is no defense. Information is power.

   Don't get a reputation as a "snitch."

People who tell tales to the guards or other prisoners are despised by everyone and can be physically attacked. The best thing you can do in prison is to see everything, hear everything and say nothing. If the guards ask you for information about some incident involving other prisoners, say that you were looking the other way and didn't see anything.

   Don't tell people anything they don't need to know.

Choose your words carefully. Potentially, anything you say to guards or prisoners (no matter how innocent you think it is) can be used to hurt or manipulate you. Avoid discussing dangerous conversation topics. Otherwise, it can easily get you into trouble. Obvious subjects to steer clear of are religion, politics, racial issues, or your own personal feelings about someone or their family and friends. Some of the prisoners you'll encounter may have a short temper, or are mentally ill, of low intelligence, or just plain bad. Prisoners like that don't have a warning written on their forehead - they look like regular guys. You can easily be misunderstood or deliberately misquoted by someone who's trying to stir up trouble. What starts out as a petty argument over a trivial issue can turn can turn into someone bearing a strong personal grudge against you. Don't be paranoid. Just be aware that things may not be what they seem e.g. the prisoner who tells you that gay or black people are just like everyone else, then asks what you think may in reality hate homosexuals or black people - he's just testing your attitude or yanking your chain.

   Prison Gangs

Just like in the real world, in prison there are gangs. But in prison, gangs are far more prevalent. These gangs despite what people would like to believe, are an integral part of the functionality of the prison system. However, they work very differently on the inside than on the outside. Be mindful of gang members, but avoid joining a gang: gang members are soldiers, and gang leaders demand absolute loyalty. If you join a gang, you may be ordered to do something that will keep you in prison a lot longer; a gang member has no choice, because aside from getting out of prison, there's only one way to quit a prison gang while in prison: die.

-all prison gangs are separated first and foremost by the races they are typically associated with. Bloods/Crips/Black Guerilla Family (African-American); the Mexican Mafia/MS-13 (Mexicans); White Supremist/Nazi (caucasian), etc. There are many different divisions.

-It is crucial to your survival in the prison system to immediately show your allegance to your race (but this does not mean you have to join a gang). This maybe a big pill for some people to swallow but "when in Rome" you'd better do as they do or it could mean your ass, literally.

   Respect other peoples personal space and don't getup on them or touchey

and NEVER allow others to invade your personal space. You will be tested and if you allow others to get to close to you for comfort, they will just get closer and closer until your subservience is obvious. Have respect and never reach over someone else's plate at the mess hall for the pepper, salt, etc and don't allow others to reach over your plate either.

   Don't automatically believe everything you hear.

Information can become garbled or people can lie. However if three different people who don't know each other are telling you the same thing chances are it's probably true.

   Above all, remember that the normal rules of the outside world simply don't apply any longer.

When you're in prison, you're living on a different planet where all that matters to you is surviving the experience with as little damage as possible.

   Don't stick your nose in other people's business.

If you do get involved, they won't thank you and you could end up making an enemy. Either way there's no mileage in it, so do yourself a big favor and mind your own business.

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