The thing about prison is there is an adjustment period where you will get very frustrated. There is social pressure to act a certain way and follow a certain amount of written and unwritten rules, and it can suck because at the same time you are trying to come to the realization that you will be in your predicament for the foreseeable or unforeseeable future.
You might have added stress as well whether that is financial or outside relationships, but it’s important that you do what you can to make the proper adjustments by being prepared to the best of your ability. Finding the right crowd is a crucial part of the adjustment period. That was the difference for me between my two experience of arriving at Milan and Yankton.
At Milan, there were guys I clicked with right away, and there were plenty of them, but when I first got to Yankton, there were not a whole lot of people I enjoyed hanging out with and of course I was missing my old friends from the previous spot where I was comfortable. I will come back to transitioning to new compounds in a future post.
Certain adjustments that were hard for me was hygiene products, quality of clothing, steel-toed boots, metal spring beds, lack of privacy, and social norms. First, hygiene is a pain in the ass to switch because you’re used to a certain brand or your skin gets used to a bar of soap, and then you get to prison, and they don’t carry what you have used for the past however many years. So be prepared to make a downgrade if you use high-end products.
As for quality of clothing the thing that was the most difficult was the boxer briefs. For the first five years, the only option was knockers at Milan and Yankton, and they are very uncomfortable as far as boxer briefs are concerned. After about a year they got some more expensive ones called Pro, and they are heaven to my genitals. The knockers would climb up your legs, climb up your ass, and the result would be minimizing room in the private section. The t-shirts are all made at Unicor, prison sweatshops, and they tear at every seam, so they need to be rotated often. If you are lucky you can find an institutional boot that is comfortable but they aren’t everywhere.
Milan had some clown boots that were pretty comfortable, but you can guess by the description that they were not very fashion-forward. They also can cut your ankles and a quick fix for that is double your socks to minimize bleeding. The permanent solution is to buy some boots on commissary but be ready to cough up between $70-$99. Metal springs are awesome, they are noisy, uncomfortable as hell, and they are not forgiving if you move a lot in your sleep and have a light sleeping bunkmate, or bunkie as we call them.
This is one of the fastest ways to generate conflict between yourself and your bunkie. The lack of privacy is something I still struggle with. I don’t think it will ever be comfortable to get naked for another man and spread your cheeks, but that could just be me. There are obviously less extreme situations of privacy concerns in prison, changing clothes, showering, toilet stalls without doors, sharing a cube with sixteen people, phone calls with eight people in the room, people standing over your shoulder while on the computer, just to name a few.
Finally, social norms in prison are a melting pot of expectations which change constantly depending on who you have in your presence. I will go into this in more depth in the future as I have never been able to completely adapt to the mold of a model inmate or convict. Here there is a clash of social classes that think their way is right and all other are wrong, much like religion; the classes are drug vs. white-collar cases, races, and demographic groups are a few.
The social norms consist of how an inmate is supposed to act in both private and public settings, interact with others, personal hygiene, and cleanliness of living quarters. I struggle primarily with the first two because I have always felt the way an inmate or convict acts is very extreme and unnecessary. Thanks for listening!