How to go to Jail
Your case in Court
Leaving Prison
Life Outside

First Day

So here you in your First Night Cell with a complete stranger and you have just eaten breakfast.  More likely is that before you could take a sip of tea you have to go to see the Doctor for Prison Initiation or your Sentence Plan. 

Off you go to the Doctor - you are expected to know where he is without being told and the same off hand hard treatment by Prison Officers continues with a few more swear words being thrown in for good measure.    How can we expect Prisoners to come out of Prison to be perfect law abiding, polite and good humoured if the example they get is of abuse.  For black prisoners it will be worse.

The Doctor can determine if you are fit to work so be open with the Doctor and tell him about any problems you have.  If you need new glasses it usually takes 6 weeks to see the optician and if you need the dentist, up to 3 months.  The Doctor will not give you drugs to help you climb down from drug addiction or give up smoking.  In some prisons you will have to buy your own artificial sweeteners.  This always seems strange given that artificial sweeteners are usually a health issue whereas vegetarianism is personal preference.  Equally if you are showing willing to give up smoking you should be helped.  In reality the Prisoner is encouraged to smoke and if you don't, you will almost certainly end up smoking someone else's waste smoke or even that of a Prison Officer who enters your cell smoking without any suggestion that they need permission.  Yes, common courtesies are another casualty of  Prison Life.  If you suffer from Asthma or diabetes or any other illness that requires constant treatment then say so.  Do not expect that if you fail to mention it that a Prison Officer will take the slightest interest in your problem - he won't.

Then to Prison Initiation.  This is not some sort of sadistic and painful event of the kind that certain public schools in the UK were once renowned - it might be pleasant if it was but frankly it is not that bad.   An almost kind Prison Officer will interview you about your sentence and any other problems you might have.  You will be required to sign an agreement to work for which you will get paid.  You might also get your first glimmer of hope of a release date or transfer to a better place.

You will probably get a visit from the Prison Chaplin.  Even if you do not go to  church regularly you can get comfort and strength from the Chaplaincy team.  Usually a Church of England Minister is Chaplin with members in his team from all the main religions.  You can also ask to see your own priest. Chaplains can miraculously make things happen and the POs do take notice of them.  They also have keys to move about the prison and access to telephones at any time.  Talk to them if a problem on the outside is becoming a problem on the inside.

An opportunity should be given on your first day for a phone call home so ensure you have your phone card with you.  You have a right to phone home.

Although you should be getting moved out of FNC on your first day,  I and several inmates who arrived with me, spent 7 nights in FNC.

You are entitled to Education and after a couple of weeks, and more quickly if you show an interest you will get an Education Assessment.  This will assess your education needs and matches you with what the prison can provide.

You are entitled to visits into Prison and letters and phone calls.

Eventually it is time to go back to your cell and the door is locked and bolted.