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Headed to Prison Dedicated to those who are facing incarceration. What to expect; what you can do to prepare; Q&A's; support.

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Old 06-12-2018, 07:30 PM
AmberWaves94 AmberWaves94 is offline
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Default Going away for a year and don't know what to expect

I hope no one minds if I relate a bit of backstory before getting to my question. I'm sorry, but I need to vent after everything I've been dealing with.

While not my real name, you can call me Amber. I'm 24 years old. My roommate of two years committed suicide in our apartment. When I discovered her body, I immediately called 911 and the police arrived. During their investigation, they discovered an insane amount of LSD tabs in her room. Enough to suggest she'd been dealing. I swear to God I hadn't known anything about it. Even now, I don't know who she was selling to or where she was meeting these people because we didn't have a lot of people coming and going at our place.

The police didn't believe that I could have been ignorant about all this and so I was charged. I know some of you may not believe me and I don't care. I know that I'm innocent.

Fortunately, my parents were able to help bail me out and help me hire a decent attorney. I'm now living with them as I was evicted after all this went down. In the months since all this happened, I've been going to work to work every day like nothing has happened, trying to keep it together.

I keep replaying every interaction between my roommate and I in my head over and over. I keep looking for some warning sign that I missed, but I can't find anything. Knowing she had this whole other life and kept it so well hidden makes me wonder if I ever knew her at all.

Back to my legal situation...the prosecution has offered me a deal. If I agree to plead guilty, I'll only serve a year in prison. Otherwise, I could be looking at ten years. My lawyer insists it's the best I can hope for. I trust his judgment as he's handled a lot of drug cases, so I've decided to accept the deal.

I can't believe my roommate put me in this situation. I want to grieve for her and tell her to go to hell all at the same time. And I keep wondering why she didn't trash the drugs before killing herself. Was it simply an oversight? Did she simply not care what might happen to me?

I'm sorry to have rambled on like this. Here's what I want to ask about. I'll be in court soon to accept the plea. Then I'll be off to prison. I've never been in trouble with the law and neither has anyone in my family or any of my friends (as far as I know). So, I have no idea what to expect. I was hoping someone might be able to offer some tips for getting along with other inmates, dealing with the guards, and, hell, just getting through the next year with my sanity intact.

If you made it this far, thank you, and I sincerely hope you're doing better than me.
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Old 06-12-2018, 08:16 PM
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I don't understand. If they found the drugs in her room, what could you have been charged with? How did they link it to you? That doesn't make any sense. I'm not calling you a liar at all, but have you spoken to other lawyers just to make sure you have all your bases covered?

What kind of evidence do they have against you that they could have a slam dunk case against you to put you in prison for 10 years? Phone records? Bank records?

If there is absolutely no connection between you and your roommate's drug dealing/selling, I wouldn't take a plea 123 without understanding every single thing about my case and talking to another attorney, not just one who will take a plea and send you away for 1 year for something you had nothing whatsoever to do with. At 24 years old, this is not something you want to have on your record for the rest of your life and a year is still a year.

I don't know if this is federal or state, but my husband is 59 in a federal prison camp for a white collar crime, and he has pointed out the youngest prisoner in the camp to me who is your age. It is very sad to see this kid being visited by his parents there when he has his whole life to live. I have a 21 year old son and could not fathom him having to take the wrap for someone else.

I would be 100% sure this is something you want to do. I know 10 years is scary as shit. The Prosecutor has to show you all their discovery, so make sure your attorney has shown you all of that, and that you make a very educated decision before you agree to take a plea. Again, just because he has experience with drug cases, doesn't mean he is the one you would want to use. You have rights, you definitely want to use them. Too many people end up in prison with worse sentences than they could have had, or in prison in general, because they didn't do their research to begin with. You still have time. Use it!

I wish you the best of luck.
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Old 06-13-2018, 05:49 AM
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I don't understand. If they found the drugs in her room, what could you have been charged with? How did they link it to you? That doesn't make any sense. I'm not calling you a liar at all, but have you spoken to other lawyers just to make sure you have all your bases covered?

What kind of evidence do they have against you that they could have a slam dunk case against you to put you in prison for 10 years? Phone records? Bank records?

If there is absolutely no connection between you and your roommate's drug dealing/selling, I wouldn't take a plea 123 without understanding every single thing about my case and talking to another attorney, not just one who will take a plea and send you away for 1 year for something you had nothing whatsoever to do with. At 24 years old, this is not something you want to have on your record for the rest of your life and a year is still a year.

I don't know if this is federal or state, but my husband is 59 in a federal prison camp for a white collar crime, and he has pointed out the youngest prisoner in the camp to me who is your age. It is very sad to see this kid being visited by his parents there when he has his whole life to live. I have a 21 year old son and could not fathom him having to take the wrap for someone else.

I would be 100% sure this is something you want to do. I know 10 years is scary as shit. The Prosecutor has to show you all their discovery, so make sure your attorney has shown you all of that, and that you make a very educated decision before you agree to take a plea. Again, just because he has experience with drug cases, doesn't mean he is the one you would want to use. You have rights, you definitely want to use them. Too many people end up in prison with worse sentences than they could have had, or in prison in general, because they didn't do their research to begin with. You still have time. Use it!

I wish you the best of luck.
Yes, I have consulted with another attorney and he was of the same opinion, unfortunately.

I don't want to delve too much into the state's case against me (and my charges are on the state level, not federal). I know I'm not likely to convince a jury, so I'm not sure how likely I am to sway any doubters reading this. I will say part of their case revolves around a substantial amount of cash the cops found stashed in a common area of our apartment. It was enough to convince them it was from drug sales, but it's really just an emergency fund my roommate and I started and had contributed to regularly since we moved in. And, like a moron, I admitted it was our money, not just hers. The reason for the fund, in case your wondering, is I have this fear that some emergency will arise that will require cash and the banks will be closed and I won't be able to get enough out of the ATM. I know how paranoid that probably sounds, so I can just imagine trying to explain it to a jury.

So, yeah, as much as I hate the idea, taking this deal is probably my best shot.

PS: I'm sorry to hear about your husband. How much time does he have left to serve?
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Old 06-12-2018, 11:11 PM
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I would definitely take RockChalk’s advice. Go consult with other attorneys. It’s not too late. Wish you luck.
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Old 06-13-2018, 05:52 AM
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Many years ago, a woman friend of mine lived in Washington DC, went out with a girlfriend one night, came back to her apartment, and after returning from the bathroom, her friend was standing in her window and jumped to her death. I relate this story because she, too, had no idea at all that her friend was suicidal. She was investigated quit thoroughly, too, but no charges were brought, of course. Very strange thing ms do happen sometime, and I hope regardless of the outcome, that you don’t feel responsible for what happened. The fact that they are offering one year seems to indicate that they don’t have much of a case against you. I think it is good advice to seek a second opinion, just to assure yourself of your decision, which is yours to make. So sorry for your experience, and best of luck to you.
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Old 06-13-2018, 05:56 AM
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I'm sorry you are going through this. I would get all the letters from people possible supporting you to submit to the judge. The judge makes the final decision at sentencing.

Also, look up your state's programs and how much of a percentage you will have to do. Anytime spent in county before being bailed out will be applied generally. It won't be a year with good behavior.

Research how to set up phones, commissary, packages if applicable, etc. Some states leave you in county if it is a year or less. I can't speak to your specifics. Hopefully someone else can.

The prison part is doable. We are just afraid of you having a Record afterwards and how that will limit you at such a young age.
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Old 06-13-2018, 06:30 AM
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I dont know what to tell you but I know I would sure be pissed off if I had to do a year in prison for something I had not done. I realize that looking at 10 yrs if you fight it is even more terrifying.
Im so sorry this happened.


I also am not sure but would your income and your roomates income indicate that you could have indeed saved the amount they found?
considering how long you were room mates, and what your income and amounts you each contributed might be helpful in backing up your version of what happened.

Not sure if that would help or not.


(thinking bank statements from each of you, any withdrawls of cash....)
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Old 06-13-2018, 07:04 AM
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I'm sorry for what is happening to you, but since two different lawyers told you that fighting your charges could result in a conviction and a 10 year prison sentence, I would believe what they say.

It's still up to you to decide, but unfortunately most trials result in convictions whether the defendant is innocent or guilty. It's definitely not a level playing field.
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Old 06-13-2018, 08:46 AM
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Sorry your going thru this but if your innocent I'd fight it no matter what!! The state has to prove your guilt you have no obligation to prove anything. I keep a large some of money in my house and always have since living thru a major hurricane and having no access to banks for weeks on end. I had a friend who died as a result of cocaine overdose I found him, his death was investigated as a homicide, I was questioned for hours, they found tons of cocaine and pipes in the house. I had approx. $2000. in cash which they took, I got it back, but my point is I had nothing to do with his death I reported it and I also lived there but wasn't doing drugs and could prove it. I also had proof that all the cash was mine. I was scared that I could be charged and was threatened, but I wasn't going to take responsibility for something I didn't do or have anything to do with. You shouldn't either!!! Your attorney should be doing his job and defending you not telling you the best your going to get is a year. So many people get screwed by attorney's who won't do their jobs because so many people allow themselves to get screwed over.
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:05 AM
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I'm sorry you're going through this. That is very scary.

I would want to fight my case as much as possible, but the thought of "if I lose this I will be gone for 10 years" is much more pressing to me.

1 year vs 10
both equal something on my record

or if you win 0 jail time, and nothing on your record.
More than 1 attorney telling me the same thing. So scary.


But just try to be yourself in jail, don't play both sides, don't let people take advantage of you, don't buy to much commissary at once.Just try to keep a low profile, and do your time peacefully. Don't get mixed up in the pod drama

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Old 06-13-2018, 09:54 AM
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You should research other cases like yours that were decided/sentenced by the same judge. You may be able to do it online. Also find out what the State will have to prove in order to get a conviction, the elements of the crime. Your lawyers have access to the State's evidence through discovery, so if it is sufficient to prove those elements, you will probably lose.

Another consideration is that many jurors think that since their wonderful State is pursuing criminal charges, you must have done something wrong. The other big issue is that the judge, by their statements, rulings and demeanor will signal what they think of the case, and of you. Depending on who the judge is, that could be either subtle or overt, but they are the ruler of their courtroom and often have a significant impact on the outcome of the case.

Your decision, but make sure you know the possible/probable outcome of that decision.
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Old 06-13-2018, 04:16 PM
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Hey, I finally got a chance to sit and read all of your replies since my last post. I just want to thank all of you. I appreciate all the advice. I definitely plan to mull things over as I don't want to make a decision I might regret.
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Old 06-13-2018, 05:05 PM
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It is your life and if you can afford it, I would go consult with a heavy hitter defense lawyer. Not a defense lawyer that is used to dealing with drug offenders. No offense but if you are I Des innocent, then you want a heavy hitter, not someone who actually is used to the tons of drug offenders who are guilty and more than happy to take a plea. Your attorney should have shared all States evidence with you. I can’t believe they can make a case just on a pile of cash in a common area. I too keep a lot of $ in my house. And if I were accused of it being used for drug running,you can damn well bet I would fight that bs. If you truly have nothing to hide and a squeaky clean record and background that should make things a lot easier for any defense lawyer. And a top notch lawyer should be able to defend your case and show the holes in it. Drugs weren’t found in the common area or on you. You said you have no history. As someone above posted, if you can backtrack where your half of the cash came from that should also help. Let the government try to prove anyone bought or sold drugs from you. It is hard to prove a negative. They have to tell your lawyer who their witnesses are. My husband was facing 10-12 years. He took a plea only because of one witness that was given immunity to testify against my husband. The guy lied in his statement to the government about non consequential things too which is ironic, but some of what he has to say are things that the attorney did not know how it would look to a jury. And that was a risk we were not willing to take. Other than that, there was no other evidence in his case that could not have been defended and trust me there was a ton. So again, look over it all and go give yourself the best damn chance to not go to prison.

As for your question about how long my husband has. His attorney expected him to be sentenced to 3-4 years, but once he decided to take a plea, we changed attorneys to one that is a sentencing expert and he ultimately wound up with only an 18 month sentence and will wind up serving just less than 14 in a federal prison Camp. He is almost at the halfway point and the good news is that the time has at least been going by fast.
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Old 06-13-2018, 11:14 PM
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Curious: How do you research who is a top-notch, heavy hitter attorney or a sentencing expert and so on? How do you really find what is an attorney’s reputation?
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Old 06-14-2018, 05:21 AM
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Curious: How do you research who is a top-notch, heavy hitter attorney or a sentencing expert and so on? How do you really find what is an attorneyís reputation?
It's called doing your due diligence. Researching them on the internet, word of mouth, checking their background, looking at their website, looking what kind of cases they've done and the results they've had, checking their results on pacer, their background, what prior experience they have and prior firms they've been at. Interviewing the attorney as well. Who they've represented previously. When the same names come up over and over, then you know you're finding the right people.

An attorney who is familiar with the judges, the prosecutors and the probation officers and each of their personalities, based on their experience, is also one that is going to be very helpful to the defendant. If you go with an attorney that is only known to settle cases, there is obviously a reason that person only settles cases and I would think twice about going with them. Likewise, an attorney that only does trials. In our case, our first attorney, would have been a shark if my husband decided not to take a plea, he was a scary guy, yet he could also be condescending and had a huge ego. I do not think this would have bode well at a sentencing hearing. I suggested my husband look to see if there were attorneys that specialized in sentencing only, and we asked around, even asking his current attorney. Ironically, 3 different attorneys we asked (including his attorney) all gave him the same name. We then researched further, and looked at his cases. From there, no contest. His gift, is that he knows how to read people. This guy however, would be terrible at a trial so if my husband had him from the start, he would have been doomed if he had wanted to go to trial. He also, is not good at being responsive, so it is never a quick process. That was frustrating. But the desired result was attained and at the end of the day we couldn't have asked for more. When my husband goes back in front of the judge to ask for a release of early Supervised Release after 6 months (the PO told me he will be able to do that), we will again be hiring a new lawyer as the most recent lawyer due to his slowness, will not be able to get it done in a timely manner. Since we already know that, we will need someone who can be efficient and do this quickly. Whether it cost us $500 or $1,000 or more, we don't care, because then it will be worth it. The interesting thing will be that the Judge in my husband's case is currently 81, so hopefully he will still be around, otherwise who knows if a new Judge will grant the release.

I'm not saying her lawyer is a good lawyer or bad lawyer, but there are tons of lawyers out there, and a lot of shitty ones. When you are laying your life on the line like this, you need to pull out all stops and do the best you can especially in her case when she is saying she is innocent. For that, I would 100% go into debt. There is no gray area between being guilty or innocent. If she truly had nothing whatsoever to do with her roommate's drug dealing, and had no connection or knowledge to it, then there should be absolutely no way the state can connect her to it or have a single witness to it.

The other advice I would give anyone dealing with any sort of criminal case, make sure you do right by yourself and hire a criminal defense lawyer. Do NOT hire a general practice lawyer for a criminal matter ever and think they will know what they are doing. Even one from a big firm.

Also, while thank god this did not happen to me, I know of many of the spouses in prison with my husband this has happened to. If you are under investigation, or know the shit is coming down, whatever you do, do not keep this from your spouse, whether it be because you're embarrassed, trying to protect them, or hoping it will go away. She/he is not only in this with you, but should be there to support you, and can give you tremendous support and advice. I keep hearing about spouses who found out too late. Don't be stupid. The sooner they know, the sooner you can do something, and even have a chance to head it off. The minute you know you're under investigation, hire an attorney as they will also find out what stage your case is in and may even be able to head off that investigation.
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Old 06-14-2018, 05:38 AM
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The thing that kills me is.....if she was the one who called 911 after discovery of her roommate, and she was aware of her roommates *business* why would she leave the evidence in the home?????
Duh.


Whatever you decide to do, fight or take a plea......I wish you the best. And again, Im sorry.
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Old 06-14-2018, 06:21 AM
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The thing that kills me is.....if she was the one who called 911 after discovery of her roommate, and she was aware of her roommates *business* why would she leave the evidence in the home?????
Duh.


Whatever you decide to do, fight or take a plea......I wish you the best. And again, Im sorry.
She said she didn't know anything about it. Personally, I find something strange about the whole thing. If she truly knew nothing, and there is nothing connecting her to the drugs, other than her own cash in a common area, I have no idea how that can be enough to connect her to a drug bust. She isn't giving us all the details. I certainly wouldn't agree to take a plea and ruin the rest of my life for that! Two lawyers don't tell you to plead guilty just on that. There has to be more evidence or a witness. Or, these are lawyers that don't know how to go to trial and make their business on pleas only. I am completely unfamiliar about anything related to drugs and drug crimes, etc. Maybe it was an OD and not a suicide. Even that is strange in the story.
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Old 06-14-2018, 08:48 AM
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Yep, I'm with rockchalk on this. We're not getting the whole story. I suspect the police have more than just cash in the common area to go on here. Perhaps the OP admitted too much during police interrogation instead of invoking her Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent like she should have? I mean, I assume the roommate wasn't working at the time (legitimate employment) if she was dealing. So where was all of her share of the cash supposedly coming from? Pretty hard to deny the obvious.

In any case, OP doesn't have to share the full story on a public forum. If two well-versed attorneys are both telling her to take the plea, there is probably ample evidence to convict her at trial. And if she eschews the plea bargain, she WILL be hit with the trial penalty and likely end up getting the maximum (full 10 years) sentence.

Just another perspective here...
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Old 06-14-2018, 06:01 AM
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I would have your attorney get her phone records and yours to prove you had no knowledge.
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Old 06-14-2018, 09:00 AM
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First of all what are they charging you with??? After rereading your post none of this makes sense. Try to clarify what they are trying to charge you with and then maybe we can offer better advice to your situation.
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Old 06-14-2018, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by xolady View Post
First of all what are they charging you with??? After rereading your post none of this makes sense. Try to clarify what they are trying to charge you with and then maybe we can offer better advice to your situation.
Thatís what Iíve been pondering. We donít have the full story and it doesnít make sense. Not saying she is or isnít innocent as this is an anonymous itís if you want it to be, but we donít have all the facts. And for those of us who have been through the process and know how it works, thereís more to it than them just saying, hey we found a stash of cash and now youíre going to prison for it! Canít just prove guilt by association because she had cash. I keep tons of cash in my house and I can account for where I got all of it. It certainly isnít from selling drugs! Sheís 24, if she has it from something legitimate, then it should be easy enough. Maybe she was engaging in other activities that were not legit but not drug related? Who knows? I would love to know when this all started and when the investigation and charges occurred. With my husbandís case, he was indicted in October 2014 (1 day before the SOL expired) and while the AUSA was pushing the lawyer for a decision on whether my husband was going to take a plea or not, there was no way in hell my husband was going to plea without thoroughly researching everything he could get his hands on regarding his case and similar cases. So both he and his attorneys got to work, including looking at similar cars and rulings. By the following September he was ready to make his decision when all research was exhausted and the risk of going to trial was not worth it. A good lawyer can get a status hearing delayed in order for her to really think about things. At 24 life is too short. My son is 21, I cannot imagine if he has to deal with what we are dealing with for the rest of his life. I would tell him to not be hasty and explore all avenues. You can always get yourself out of debt, but you cannot reverse the effects of prison or a felony.
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Old 06-14-2018, 05:33 PM
AmberWaves94 AmberWaves94 is offline
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Once again, I apologize for not being able to reply sooner.

I've been doing a lot of thinking. The more I go over all the details of my case, the more convinced I become that my lawyer is right. I'm going to take the deal. It just isn't worth the risk.

As some of you have said, there are things about the case I haven't shared. I apologize, as I didn't do so to frustrate anyone (and I did say the money issue was just one part of the case). It's just that if I were to reveal anymore, I fear I might compromise my anonymity, depending on who ends up reading this thread. Plus, I figured my lawyer would be less than thrilled if he knew I was sharing all the details of the case online with strangers when it hasn't even been resolved yet.

As I may not have been clear before, the charge I'm facing is possession with intent.

I do appreciate your posts and hope that you still might be able to help me. As I said in my first post, prison is a completely foreign environment to me. I don't know how many of you have done time personally, but any advice you can offer for making the time go smoothly would be greatly appreciated. I may have accepted that I'll be going away, but I'm still scared to death.

Last edited by AmberWaves94; 06-14-2018 at 06:09 PM..
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  #23  
Old 06-14-2018, 08:58 PM
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Amber,

A measly year in prison is really nothing. Just a short vacation. You can do that standing on your head. The real hard part is after you get out with a felony record: finding a job, housing that accepts felons, etc. -- you didn't mention how long of a parole/supervision tail you had after you serve your short prison sentence?

Without repeating much of the standard advice that is stickied to the top of this Heading to Prison forum, if you can, save up and have at least $300 that you can give to a loved one so they can re-deposit it back on your books once you are taken from your local jail to your actual prison destination. That will help you buy plenty of things off commissary to make your stay much more comfortable.

Have a long list of books handy for your loved ones to reference, so that they can send you in fresh reading material on a regular basis, in case you aren't satisfied with the selection in the prison library. I don't know if Louisiana allows personal TVs or not to be bought off commissary, but you should at least be able to get a portable radio for pretty cheap.

Other than that, just mind to your own business as well as you can, don't be nosing around in others' business. Do your own time and it will be over with before you know it.
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Old 06-14-2018, 09:10 PM
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Unfortunately, I don't know anything about State or County Prisons, so I can't help with that. You will however, want money sent in regularly so you can buy things on a monthly basis from commissary and make phone calls. I don't know what the email situation is like in a state prison, but in federal there is a nominal cost for email and phone calls are limited to 300 minutes per month. Some of these things your lawyer should be able to provide the information on, and once you know what prison you'll be going to and more specific details, then you should definitely come back and look for people familiar with that specific prison.

My husband's prison allows you to check out books from the local library. I found that out through someone on this website, so that is what I meant by trying to find people on here that are familiar with where you are going. Make sure you have had all medical appointments done before you've left, including your physical, annual gynecological appointment and dental work. Also, make sure you leave someone with POA authority so they can access anything necessary, filing tax returns, credit card, bank information, etc.
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Old 06-15-2018, 06:48 AM
fbopnomore fbopnomore is offline
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It is important to understand "inmate etiquette". The way you present yourself to the other inmates, and staff, often determines how they deal with you. Most will be helpful to new prisoners, they were all in your shoes once. However, there will be some who will try to take advantage of you, so it is wise to take your time when deciding who you will befriend.

Once you become more comfortable with the prison experience, it will not be nearly as frightening as it is now.
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