The prospect of being sent to prison for the first time is daunting to say the least.
How will you deal with being locked up? What are the written – and unwritten rules – for life on the inside?
What stuff do you need to bring with you? What will the warden and prison officers expect of you?
Thankfully there is a guide at firsttimeinprison.co.uk to help you through the difficult time.
And it includes a section of what you should bring with you.
Offering practical advice such as: “Wear a cheap watch to court, one that you are happy to have in prison. You should be allowed to keep it on, and it’s a complete pain getting hold of one in some prisons.
“Not knowing the time may well start to drive you a little crazy inside, even though for the most part it doesn’t matter.”
It adds that rules are different from prison to prison. Although it does warn that whatever it suggests the new prisoner should “expect to be annoyed”.
The website, which does not say if the author/s were themselves former prisoners, gives advice on what to and what not to expect once inside.
“Rolling with it will be harder than you think” because the inmate will have to get used to not being in control.
But for a first timer inside, this is what it suggests:
What to take into prison:
ALL TOILETRIES Some they may not let you have because you can buy it on “canteen”, but anything they do let you have will save you money on canteen you can use for something else;
PENS AND PENCILS It varies what sorts are allowed in what prisons, so have a variety. You can buy them, but better to save the money;
UNDERWEAR Take several sets (seven or eight);
BOOKS As many as you can if you like reading;
STAMPS, WRITING PAPER, ENVELOPES Again they may not let you because you can buy, but most guards will be fine with this
A RADIO/ALARM CLOCK ;
COMFORTABLE SHOES assuming you wear smart shoes to court;
CASH about £100.
It adds: “Some things do have a tangible effect – when you get to go through your property is when you may get your books or toiletries and therefore have something to do or clean with, but this could be day 2 or day 10 (irrespective of what it “officially” says in your prison) so even with those things try not to expect too much, even if you’ve tried to work it out from what other prisoners have said or experienced when you’re there.”