No matter what you did, or how long you have, every person going to prison has one thing in common: Every single one of them has to go through the first day in prison the same as everyone else.
The first day of prison involves a lot of uncomfortable and terrifying activities an inmate is required to go through before the even enter the prison. Shows, such as “Orange is the New Black,” accurately depict certain parts of the process, but not all of them.
First, you are photographed. All of you. All of your tattoos and piercings are documented and then you are measured for a uniform. You are required to get a physical to make sure you are in good health before risking the other inmates’ lives. Usually this physical is only a couple minutes. In addition to your physical health being tested, your mental state will also be checked.
While all of this is happening, your possessions will be taken. They will be documented and placed in the care of an officer until they are returned to you.
You will be spending a good majority of your time in a holding cell, either waiting to be transferred or waiting to speak with someone, such as an officer or your lawyer. It’s a long day, made even longer by the constant reminder that you will not be sleeping in your own bed that night.
The officers have their jobs to do before you can enter prison in order to verify that you are not bringing in any illegal contraband. They make sure to take your details multiple times; they are required to strip you and search you before giving you your prison clothes. Then you will be given your bundle of blankets and any other belongings inmates receive. Finally, you will be asked whether you have any reason not to join the general population. This could be because of your sexuality, your age, etc. In other words, do you fear for your life if you are placed with everyone else?
The hardest part of prison is the first day and this is because you finally have to accept you have no control over your life anymore. Your life is now in the hands of those around you. But once your sentence is over and you walk out, it will feel as if you’d only been there a year.
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