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FAQ About Prison and Jail

Jail Guide's Frequently Asked Questions about prisoner's daily life, surviving prison, how to get legal help and how to cope with someone in prison or jail.

Frequently Asked Questions About Prison

We often get asked about prison life and receive hundreds of emails asking mostly all the same questions; "What is prison like". So we decided to put up this small page using the most asked questions we receive. If you have a question and it is not answered here, please feel free to email us: Email a Jail Guide. We will try to reply to your prison questions faster than you expect.

Jail Guide Raven

How do I protect my family's privacy during this time?

Protecting your family from the spotlight surrounding your case is imperative to not only your trial but also to your family's well being. Consider how your children may be treated at school or how your spouse or partner may be treated at work. Also keep in mind the media is relentless during the first initial days of your arrest. Shielding your family from the media is crucial to their privacy.

This also brings up the question of any civil lawsuit that may come after your trial. Even if you are found innocent, civil proceedings may be coming your way. What could be better than being protected properly from being served a summons and process servers in their tracks?

I urge you to download this book on privacy and how to keep your name off of bank records, wage garnishments, stop process servers and basically live off the grid while still maintaining your lifestyle. Download Privacy Crisis Here

How do I find a good criminal lawyer?

Finding a good lawyer is a lot simpler than you think. A few simple methods will certainly help in your time of need:

  • Method 1: Go to court - sounds odd, but that's where most lawyers are. Sit in a courtroom that handles cases much like yours and watch how the attorneys work. If you see an attorney working well, approach them in the hall and ask for a business card. Do not go into detail about your case - often these lawyers are busy - so make an appointment to see them.
  • Method 2: Ask friends and family who they use. Often, word of mouth is the best advertising.
  • Method 3: Read the newspaper. You may find that a local attorney had handled a high profile case or maybe a difficult case - seek them out. If they cannot help you, rest assured they will refer a colleague.

How does federal prison sentencing work?

In all simplest forms, to figure your federal prison sentence will require you to grab a copy of the USSG Federal Sentencing Guidelines manual and click here to see the 7 simple steps of Federal Sentencing Guide

Will the prison guards really go through my mail?

Yes. And for good reason. The prison system does not need any outside influence within the walls. If they didn't check the mail, some inmates would be receiving drugs and weapons. Most prisons (if not all) do not allow pornographic images - so don't send them unless you want to embarrass the person inspecting the mail. As well, the prison porno will be discarded immediately - or may be sent back to your address. Which is bad in a sense - when the mail is sent back, heaven forbid your parents or children opening the returned mail...

When will I receive my copy of the book?

The book is ready for download immediately once you make a payment. It is a rather large file so it may take some time to download. If you are unable to download it for whatever reason, please contact me with your proof of purchase (usually the receipt number) and I will look into it. If need be I will email a copy to you.

How much rape goes on in prison - is it really true?

Sad to report, but it does happen. When you are incarcerated you should be as as safe and secure as the public you are being locked away from. Not often the case. My book tells you in detail what to watch for and how to protect against it so that you don't become a victim. Sex in prison happens - some willingly, some not. I have a chapter devoted to this subject and is a must read for anyone looking at doing some time.

How do I get good time credit? Will I get out early?

You'll start to receive good time credit from the first day. In fact if on the first day you are incarcerated only 10 minutes - it counts as a full day of time. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has a powerful calculation system, one that I built into a small program listed on your right. Simply choose Federal and then input your data. If you act accordingly and fly right - you'll get credit and be released early.

State systems are different and you may not do as much time as mandated. The Incarceration Calculator has a list of every state and county institution I could find. I even called most of these places to confirm the algorithm of how time is credited. In some instances, I was either hung up on or they would not give me the information so I have to leave them as NA.

Please call your institution to find out for yourself as some of these numbers may change. I try to keep up with them but there are hundreds. Please do not use my algorithm as a solid base of the actual time you will serve. It is a guess at best as these places change the rules all the time. I will not be held responsible for your time or inaccuracy of any calculation. You may use the calculator but do so at your own risk.

How important is the PSI report?

This one report will be one of the most important documents in your jacket. In my opinion this report is more important than anything else you'll come across during your sentencing (aside from evidence). This report often determines where you'll go and for how long. In my book I show you how to work through the PSI and how to hide it if necessary.

What is RDAP and how can I really get 12 months off my sentence?

18 U.S.C. § 3621(e)
B.O.P. Residential Drug Abuse Program (R.D.A.P)

Eligible inmates graduating from the 500 hour R.D.A.P program can receive up to a 12 month sentence reduction and a 6 month Reentry Center, Half-Way House/Community Corrections Center (CCC) Placement. To qualify, you must have a history of drug (substance) abuse or dependence during your last 12 months prior to your arrest, which includes legal and/or illegal drugs, prescribed or not, and/or alcohol abuse.

28 Code Federal Regulations § 550.58
R.D.A.P. Early Release Eligibility

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE DRUG ABUSE TREATMENT PROGRAM : An inmate sentenced to a term of imprisonment pursuant to the provisions of 18 U.S.C. Chapter 227, Subchapter D for nonviolent offenses, who is determined to have a substance abuse problem, and successfully completes a residential drug abuse treatment program during his current commitment may be eligible, in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, for early release by a period not to exceed 12 months.

For a list of the RDAP Institutions (current 2016) click here: CURRENT RDAP INSTITUTIONS

I am going to visit my husband in a few days, what can I bring?

Kudos to you for your support! But, every State Department of Corrections or Federal Prison is different. They all have different rules on what can come into the prison and what can't. I have compiled a complete list of just about every major prison and jail in the United States. I have also made these linkable within the PDF so that you can simply click on it and be taken to their website.

Also in my book I describe what you should not "wear" to make your visitor processing time go by quickly. As well, I have a good list of some of the services afforded to those that are incarcerated so if you want to send books, meals, snack, cards, or phone calls its all in my book with easy clickable links.

I am turning myself in next week. What can I bring?

That depends on where you will be going. If it is a Federal Institution not much. If it is a, call and ask. All prison systems are run differently use my inmate locator to find the prison info for contact. As well, if you are turning yourself in, you may already be in the system so do a search on your own name.

What are Inmate's rights? Do prisoners have any rights?

U.S. CONSTITUTION: EIGHTH AMENDMENT : Sadly, since every prison is different so are the rights given to each prisoner. As an incarcerated US citizen (and non-citizen) the US Constitution speaks of the rights of prisoners but what I witnessed was a far cry from what our forefathers wrote and signed off on. I have included a good size piece of work on this to try and describe it as best as possible. The ACLU website has more info as well and I check them every so often. If you can, make a donation to them to further their efforts.

"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor any cruel and unusual punishment should not be given."

On the federal level there are "rules" set forth by the Federal Bureau of Prisons:

"You have the right to expect as a human being, that you will be treated respectfully, impartially, and fairly by all personnel."
Title 28 Chapter V. Part 540
Code Of Federal Regulation | Federal Bureau of Prisons Policies

What did you do that put you in jail?

I will admit it was really stupid. I was young and dumb (we all were once), and while funny, it wasn't so funny to others. I will tell you this, my book goes into detail about this question as it is one of my golden rules. So we did the crime, so we will do our own time. When asking this question to someone you don't know may invoke an invasion of privacy or stir "angry" emotions. Read the book.

My daughter is getting out soon, what should we know?

First of all congratulations for getting your child back. You didn't say if she was paroled or maxed out, regardless, what she will need now is your love and support. I will say this, help her when you can, but don't nosedive into her life unless she asks for it. She has just spent some time not trusting a whole lot of people, and if she's like the rest of us, will be watching others and wondering about their motives. So take everything one day at a time and just support her. There is more info in my book about parole, what to do to get it and how to stay out.

How do I search for an Inmate?

Use my online search utility. It is accurate based on the information as displayed by all Federal, State and County facilities. Click the link above to find and inmate using the Jail Guide Inmate Search Utility

What is a Case Manager?

An individual employed by or under contract with the DOC,that is responsible for direct involvement with offenders and ensuring an ongoing process of case monitoring, case recording, counseling, and guidance. Direct involvement shall also include field Parole Officers working in liaison with community corrections centers.

What is a Custody Level?

The degree of supervision required for each offender. Custody level utilizes the terms of Minimum, Minimum-Restricted, Medium, Close and Administrative Segregation. See Security Levels for a more thorough answer.

Why is my loved one being transferred from one facility to another?

There are a number of reasons why your loved one is on their way to a different facility:

  • If the inmate has an increase or decrease in custody level.
  • If the inmate partakes in a specific program located at another facility.
  • If the inmate is in fear of their life and cannot continue at this facility
  • If the inmate is ill or needs different medical treatment.
  • If the inmate has requested to moved closer to family or loved ones.
  • If there are other special circumstances on a case by case basis.

What is Jail Backlog?

Jail Backlog usually means that an offender is awaiting transfer to their permanent facility. It can indicate other states, however, so it is best to check with the Public Information Office at their facility to get the specific status of the individual. Click the link above to find an inmate for our free online database of prisons and jails.

Why don't you put a guarantee on your book?

First off, I don't think anyone can guarantee something as life changing as this. Every situation is different and every prison or jail is different. As well, the people (guards and prisoners) that make up that small population all act differently on a daily basis. My book lets you into this world and shows you how to handle a lot of the aspects that will be coming your way. So to guarantee everything is possible; can the book help you; it will but then again it all depends on your situation. I also built one of the largest prison slang glossaries and in it is some really good advice as well.

You used to give this book away - why has that changed?

That's true, at one time I was giving the book away to those in need, and there were lots of people. But, like many other Americans, my company closed its doors and laid everyone off. So I decided to take this opportunity to start my new book that I have been gathering notes on for so many years. In order to make ends meet I decided it was time to put my first book up for sale.

Are there really innocent people in prison?

Out of the 2+ million people in the US that are incarcerated, thousands of men and women site in prisons and jails that are innocent. It's true, and I have met some. It does happen and when it does it is most disheartening. You can usually tell the person who is innocent as well the ones who simply cry foul. For more information on being innocent in prison, go to the web site for The Innocence Project. See how you can help as well! You can also visit Exonerated.org for more up to date information on people who have been exonerated.

When is your other book coming out?

The big book is due out in summer of 2017. I have included this book and all of my other reports and articles within it as it is a perfect fit. So for those of you interested in the "Big Book", simply let me know you were a customer of this book and provide your email address you used to register or your invoice number and I will deduct the $29.97 from the price. This is only if you purchased through my web site and not one of my affiliates.

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Are you going to Jail or Prison for the first time? Don't know what to expect; who to talk to or what to bring to prison? These are questions your lawyer doesn't know how to answer or won't. Take it from a guy who's been there... Pete Maxwell answers all in his newly revised jail guide. A 144 page survive prison guide:Survive Prison Book "How To Survive In Prison and Jail" - from what to do (and not to do) on the first day to the last and to answering this #1 question from being going to prison for the first time: * Sex and Rape in Prison - how you can avoid being a victim.