Your first week in prison will seem like a lifetime. You will not have experienced anything like it and it will take sometime for you to adjust mentally to incarceration and to other inmates.
When you arrive at the prison, you will be escorted, in person, to the Reception area and put into a holding cell. You will be with other prisoners and will have the chance to talk to them. This can be disheartening, but it is also an opportunity to see the people that you will be with during your incarceration. If you have been convicted of a sensitive offence, under no circumstances, reveal this to anybody. Sit down and be quiet is the best advice that we can give you.
You will be taken to the reception desk, which is staffed by Security Officers (commonly referred to as ‘screws’). They will process your paperwork, confirm your identity, allocate your personal identification number and take your photo. They will also make a decision as to whether you should be classed a vulnerable prisoner. This may be due to your mental state, crime, age or health. If so, you will he housed separately in a separate wing away from the main prison for your own safety.
You will be asked to strip (in front of appropriate officers) in order to make sure you are not concealing anything. You will then be redressed into your prison clothes and will then have to wait in a different holding cell, pending the processing of the other prisoners.
A nurse or doctor from the Healthcare team will then come and see you. You will be asked about your mental state, your drug and alcohol use and any allergies. If you need urgent medication, then tell them.
Finally, you will be escorted by an officer to your allocated wing. This will almost certainly be an Induction Wing – houses new inmates only. On the wing you will find an association area containing a number of activities that may include a dartboard, pool table etc. As a new inmate you are entitled to a free, three minute telephone call. Officers may forget this privilege so request it.
During the next few days you may get visits from the Chaplaincy, your personal officer and your internal probation officer. They will all discuss various aspects of your sentence and how things work in prison. We advise that you talk them. However, be careful of what you say if you are going to subject to the Parole Process – speak to us first.
After about a week you will be expected to start your course and will be joined by other new inmates, some of whom you may well have met already. the induction course will last between one and two weeks. You will attend many talks by those departments and groups, including the gym, the library, listeners, education etc. At the end of your induction you will be allowed to apply for a job within the prison, visit the gym and generally use any other service that prison officers. We advise you to do whatever you can to get time out of your cell. If you do not then you can expect to spend up to 23 hours a day in your cell, with the remaining hour being spent collecting meals, showering and making phone calls.
Your daily routine will depend on the category of prison you or in. There are four categories of prisoners, ranging from Category A which holds the most dangerous offenders, down to Category D also known as ‘open prisons’.