Prison What To Expect

Prison What To Expect

Prison What to Expect When Starting a Prison Sentence: A Comprehensive Guide


Navigating the prison system can be overwhelming for both first-time inmates and their loved ones. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of what one can generally expect when entering the prison system.

Arrival at the Prison

Once sentenced, individuals are transported from the courtroom to a nearby reception prison for a few initial nights. Depending on various factors such as the length of the sentence and the type of crime committed, a relocation to another facility may occur. Upon arrival, a mandatory strip search will be conducted by same-sex officers to confirm that no prohibited items are being smuggled in.

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Prison What To Expect

Managing Your Belongings

Reception staff will collect your personal items and filter out what’s allowed and what’s not. You will receive a list specifying your clothing entitlements. Cash is not allowed, but a personal cash account will be set up in your name. Loved ones can deposit funds into this account, subject to the prison’s weekly spending limit.

Identification Procedures

You will be issued a unique prison number and informed about your potential release dates, including the earliest possible release date and any options for Home Detention Curfew (HDC). You’ll also undergo a photo and fingerprinting session, and you’ll receive a PIN for making phone calls.

Prison What To Expect

Prison What To Expect

Health Check-ups

A health evaluation by a doctor or nurse will take place to discuss any existing medications or health conditions you may have. If you feel anxious or distressed, it’s crucial to speak up; facilities often offer confidential support from trained ‘Listener’ inmates or chaplains.

Your First Night

Once all the initial protocols are completed, you’ll be led to your cell. You may be housed in a special first-night block or a general cell block. You may also get the chance to purchase essential items like toiletries, sweets, and telephone credits.

Life Beyond the First Night

Cleaning materials, towels, and bedding will be provided. You may be sharing a cell, and while smoking is generally allowed in individual cells, rules may differ. You’re responsible for keeping your cell clean and may have access to in-cell TVs and kettles.

Induction Programs

Induction programs offer an overview of day-to-day life inside the prison, including available programs, visiting rights, and staff roles. Family induction options may also be available in some prisons.

Passing Time

Most prisons offer in-cell TVs and kettles for personal use, for a nominal fee deducted from your canteen account. Some prisons allow you to keep books, newspapers, and even certain electronics.

Allowed Items in Prison

Prison-specific rules govern what items you can have. Commonly allowed items include legal documents, greeting cards, and books. However, mobile phones and chargers are strictly prohibited.

Progressing Through Your Sentence

Good behavior can earn you privileges like a better cell or more visits. However, this depends on multiple factors, including the prison’s policies and available facilities.


Entering the prison system is a life-altering experience, but knowing what to expect can make the transition a bit easier. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the procedures and rules, ask questions, and seek support where needed.

Prison What To Expect UK