Inside Prison | How to Survive Prison

If you are reading this inside prison page, either you or a loved one is likely starting your prison journey. While this is likely a fearful and anxiety-provoking time, we want you to know that you’ve come to the right place. Our team stands ready to teach you about life inside federal prison and prison cells, how to survive prison, and what you need to know now.

Our team of experienced federal prison consultants regularly helps prisoners and their families manage these traumatic experiences. Our team can help you find a federal criminal defense attorney, prepare for prison, learn what to expect, and address any issues as they arise.

The below guide to surviving prison can help you on your journey. You can also book a one-hour initial consultation to speak to a team member today.

Inside Prison | Inside Federal Prison

An Introduction to Life Inside Prison

While no one web page can explain everything you need to know about how to survive prison, this page starts the learning process. Here, we present a high-level overview of life inside federal prison. As you read, click on the topical links, which will bring you to more detailed discussions about each topic.

Note that while this information is specific to the federal prison system, it also generally applies to county jails and state prisoners. For example, if you or a loved one are in a minimum-security camp, medium-security federal correctional institution, or a medical center for incarcerated people, this page provides helpful general guidance.

Think of this page as your guide to surviving jail and federal prison survival guide.

Admissions and Orientation

Upon arrival at any Bureau institution, all newly committed prisoners and transferring inmates undergo the Admission and Orientation (A&O) process. This is often the first phase of being inside prison and learning how to survive prison.

Medical, Dental, and Psychology Services staff members evaluate inmates during this 30-day period. Ideally, inmates will also use their A&O time to become familiar with the institution and its culture. Inmates often find a prison job during this period.

At some point during the A&O period, inmates will attend a town hall-style meeting during which heads of all prison departments will make remarks and allow questions. Following the A&O meeting, inmate statuses change to reflect the completion of the A&O process. The inmate is then officially part of the general population.

Housing: Cells and Dormitories

Housing in the Federal Bureau of Prisons varies from institution to institution. Typically, inmate housing structure is determined by the security level of the federal prison.

While some inmates prefer to live inside a prison cell, others prefer a more social dorm environment. This is a personal choice, but can significantly affect an inmate’s ability to survive prison.

While it is important to learn about life inside federal prison, it is equally critical to learn how to live inside a prison cell. Prisoners spend a significant amount of time in their housing unit area. As such, preparing for interactions with fellow inmates is a foundational area of our prison preparation work.

Note that prison housing units are also called jail cells and cell blocks. Regardless of terminology, these are inmate housing units that are patrolled by correctional officers.

Dormitories Inside Prison

Minimum- and low-security facilities generally house inmates in dormitory-style settings. These housing units are expansive open spaces containing multiple cubicles where prisoners live inside prison. A typical dormitory has numerous two-, three- and four-person cubicles.

Communal showers and toilets are also present. Showers in all Bureau facilities, including dormitories, are one-person with a door that allows for a modicum of privacy. Bathroom areas consist of long rows of toilets, generally separated by walls and often with a swinging door.

Cells Inside Federal Prisons

Medium-, high- and administrative-security prisons house inmates inside prison cells with locking doors. Each cell holds numerous inmates. For example, these can range from two to twelve inmates. Two-person cells are the most common.

Inside prison cells, inmates will find a toilet, sink, desk, lockers, and bunk beds. Facilities rarely have in-cell showers. For the most part, showers in higher security level institutions are in common areas.

Communal Amenities

Housing units inside federal prison complexes include a communal day room. Day rooms generally have the following amenities:

  • Tables and chairs
  • TRULINCS computer area
  • Televisions (sometimes in separate TV rooms, while other times mounted on the walls)
  • Laundry area (if the institution still allows washing and drying machines in the housing units)
  • Microwave
  • 200-degree hot water dispenser

Contact with the Outside World

Inmates in the Bureau of Prisons have several methods to stay in contact with family, friends, and others on the outside. All communication inside a federal prison is subject to monitoring by Bureau staff. Privileged attorney-client communications are the only exception.

Maintaining contact with the outside world cannot be overstated. Communication with friends and family is a critical surviving prison tactic. This helps to keep inmates grounded and focused on their eventual return to society.

U.S. Mail

Postal mail is the traditional mainstay of prison communication. Mail from friends and family must be addressed to the inmate at the facility’s address. Additionally, it must include the inmate’s registration number.

Staff open and inspect incoming mail. Outgoing mail must be left unsealed for inspection at medium- and high-security institutions. At minimum- and low-security federal prisons, inmates may seal their mail. Inmates place their outbound mail in a mailbox in their housing units for staff processing.

Books, Magazines, and Newspapers

Inmates may receive commercial publications at all facilities. These can include books, magazines, and newspapers.

Inmates in medium- and high-security institutions may only receive commercial publications (including books) directly from the publisher (or a book distributor like Amazon). At lows and camps, inmates may receive softcover publications (including books) from any source.


Inmates also have access to telephones inside federal prisons. Staff must pre-approve all telephone contacts, but this practice is mostly perfunctory.

All telephone calls are recorded, and some are monitored in real-time or retrospectively. Telephone access is considered a privilege that can be revoked for disciplinary reasons.

Inmates may use 300 minutes of telephone time per month, with each call being 15 minutes in duration. Direct dial calls are debited from the inmate’s commissary account at a rate of $0.06 per minute for local calls and $0.21 per minute for long-distance calls.

The cost of international calls varies depending on the country:

  • Canada: $0.35 per minute
  • Mexico: $0.55 per minute
  • Other Countries: $0.99 per minute

The system also allows for an inmate to call collect, but depending on the receiving party’s telecom provider, a prepaid account with Value Added Communications (1-800-913-6097) may be necessary.

As of the date of this writing, both AT&T and Verizon no longer allow customers to accept collect calls from inmates inside federal prisons.

Inmate Email

As part of the computerized TRULINCS inmate email system, the Bureau also offers some inmates access to a text-based email system. facilitates this inmate email service.

Authorized inmates can exchange emails of up to 13,000 characters with their approved contacts. Inmates must pay one TRU-Unit per minute while accessing the email service. This includes while they are composing or reading emails. Contacts outside of prison do not incur a cost for service use. TRU-Units currently cost $0.05 each.

Federal Bureau of Prisons staff saves and monitors all messages. Sex offenders inside federal prisons are often restricted from accessing the TRULINCS email system. Access is subject to disciplinary revocation.

Visitation Inside Prison

According to federal regulation, “The Bureau of Prisons encourages visiting by family, friends, and community groups to maintain the morale of the inmate and to develop closer relationships between the inmate and family members or others in the community.”

While the accuracy of this statement is arguable, the Bureau does allow nearly every inmate in its custody visitation privileges. Inmates inside federal prison Special Housing Units also have visitation privileges. Only inmates sanctioned for misconduct may have their visitation privileges suspended.

Regular visits help inmates to better survive prison. Visits break up the monotony of daily prison life, provide an opportunity to not remain inside a prison cell, and improve morale.

The Prison Visitation Experience

Visits in the Bureau of Prisons are contact visits. This means inmates and visitors sit in the same location and directly interact. Visitation is typically conducted around a table in a visitation room. Inmates may exchange a brief hug or kiss at the beginning and end of each visit.

Visitation is frequently available. Wardens must establish visiting hours on the weekends and federal holidays. Staff determines visit length, while visitors may exit the visitation room at their pleasure. Individual visits generally amount to several hours.

While visiting, guests can usually purchase vending machine-style snacks and drinks for themselves and the inmate. Board games and playing cards are often available, as is a children’s play area.

Visitor Approval

Inmates inside federal prisons may only visit with pre-approved individuals. Correctional Counselors can approve immediate family without any additional documentation. Immediate family is typically verified through the inmate’s Pre-Sentence Report.

All other proposed visitors must submit a Visitor Information Form (BP-A0629). This form is available on the Bureau of Prisons’ website or through the prisoner. Inmates may only visit individuals they knew before their incarceration. Exceptions are made for certain religious organization volunteers, such as Prisoner Visitation and Support (PVS).

Inmate Visitation Security Protocols

Visitors are subject to search upon entering prison grounds. Searches usually include passing through a metal detector or an Ion Spectrometer device. This device searches for trace amounts of drugs and explosives.

Inmates are strip-searched and must expose all body cavities for search upon entrance and exit of the visitation room. Inmates housed in minimum-security institutions are not always subject to a strip search upon entering the visitation room.

Visitors should review the Bureau’s visiting policies before arriving at an institution. All rules must be followed to the letter. For instance, visitors face restrictions on what they may wear and will be turned away if they wear a disallowed style or color of clothing.

Each institution’s visiting policies can be found on the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ website. Visitation days and hours are also listed on the BOP’s website.

Medical, Dental, and Mental Health Care Inside Federal Prisons

A core principle of the Bureau’s Health Services Mission Statement is that “[a]ll inmates have value as human beings and deserve medically necessary health care.” Perhaps more importantly, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994) that the United States Constitution requires prison officials to provide inmates with adequate medical care.

With the above in mind, all federal prisoners receive some level of care for their medical needs. Although, the quality of the care is by no means guaranteed or consistent. Regardless, understanding medical and dental care options inside federal prisons are a critical surviving prison area.

Medical Care Inside Prison

The federal prison system considers the provision of medical care at five different levels:

  • Medically Necessary: Acute or Emergent
  • Medically Necessary: Non-Emergent
  • Medically Acceptable: Not Always Necessary
  • Limited Medical Value
  • Extraordinary

Medically Necessary: Acute or Emergent

“Medically Necessary” care is always provided, whether at the institution or an outside hospital. To qualify as Medically Necessary, an inmate’s condition must be acute or emergent.

This means that without care, the inmate would suffer rapid deterioration of health, significant irreversible loss of function, or loss of life. Medically Necessary conditions include heart attack, stroke, severe trauma, and hemorrhage. Meaningful medical care for these types of issues greatly improves the ability to survive prison.

Medically Necessary: Non-Emergent

“Medically Necessary: Non-Emergent” care is typically provided to all inmates. These conditions are not life-threatening but, if not treated, will:

  • Present a significant risk of serious deterioration leading to premature death;
  • Result in a significant reduction in the possibility of later repair; or
  • Cause significant pain or discomfort, which impairs the inmate’s participation in activities of daily living.

Examples of Medically Necessary: Non-Emergent conditions include diabetes, heart disease, schizophrenia, infectious diseases, and cancer.

Medically Acceptable: Not-Always Necessary

Conditions the Bureau considers “Medically Acceptable: Not Always Necessary” may be treated but often are not. The Bureau believes conditions in this category to require only elective care, which is not medically necessary.

The Utilization Review Committee (a group of institution-level staff members made up of the Clinical Director and others) must provide approval before treating any condition falling in this category.

Medically Acceptable: Not Always Necessary conditions include a torn anterior cruciate ligament of the knee, failing joints, and various other orthopedic disorders.

Limited Medical Value & Extraordinary

Medical conditions for which care provides “Limited Medical Value” are unlikely to be treated by the Bureau. These conditions are often minor and include cosmetic conditions and non-cancerous skin lesions.

The treatment of a condition that the Bureau classifies as “Extraordinary” is even less likely to be treated. Medical interventions are deemed Extraordinary if they affect the life of another individual (i.e., organ transplantation) or are investigational.

How to Obtain Medical Care

Inmates inside federal prisons experiencing a medical issue may request treatment in one of two manners:

  • Submit a sick call triage form
  • Report to the institution’s health services center at an appointed time

Inmates should anticipate a lengthy and trying process when accessing the Bureau’s health care apparatus. Patience and diligence are required. Most conditions will be treated by Bureau medical personnel with a modicum of each.

But remember, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. As such, inmates should not remain inside their prison cells suffering. If they need medical care, they need to be their own best advocate. This will greatly help them survive prison.

Dental Care Inside Prison

Dental care is provided inside the Federal Bureau of Prisons. According to Bureau policy, “[d]ental care will be conservative, providing necessary treatment for the greatest number of inmates within available resources.”

Routine Dental Care

Routine dental care is furnished to inmates on the “Dental Routine Treatment List.” This care includes the treatment of cavities, root canals, etc. Routine care is administered chronologically.

Most inmates are placed on the routine treatment list by dental staff after their A&O examination. Ideally, this comprehensive examination takes place within 30 days of the inmate’s arrival at an institution. Inmates may also get on the list by submitting an Inmate Request to Staff, also known as a cop-out (Form BP-A0148).

Urgent Dental Care

Urgent dental care is provided through a dental sick call program. Urgent care includes treating severe, acute dental pain, traumatic injuries, and acute infections.

Urgent care is not provided via a waitlist. Besides life-threatening emergencies, urgent dental care is the highest priority for Bureau dental staff. Care is required to be rendered promptly.

Obtaining Dental Care

Bureau policy requires each institution to retain one dentist for every 1,000 inmates. As such, most federal prisons have a dentist and multiple dental services staff members.

As a rule, the dental services department is often swamped. As with dealing with medical situations, inmates should approach dental care with a patient attitude. The best approach is to utilize preventative brushing to limit required dental intervention.

Psychological Care

Mental health care is provided to all Bureau inmates through the institutional psychology services department. In addition to assessing and treating mental disorders, psychology services are integral in the Bureau’s reentry efforts. Psychologists and other mental health professionals from psychology services also provide behavioral science expertise to other Bureau staff members.

Every inmate receives an initial medical screening when arriving at a Bureau institution. If the inmate presents mental health concerns, psychology services are notified, and prompt intervention is required. Otherwise, psychologists interview inmates within 14 days of arrival.

Life inside prison tends to be damaging to mental health. They are loud and frustrating environments. As such, psychological care is particularly critical when surviving prison.

Obtaining Psychiatric Care

Outside of the initial screening, psychology services are provided on an as-needed basis. Inmates may access the services of a psychologist by submitting a written or electronic request to psychology services or by attending the psychology services department’s weekly open house.

Services available to the general population include individual counseling, group therapy, and crisis intervention. Group therapy is the most common treatment provided to inmates with mental health issues. Bureau psychologists employ the cognitive behavioral therapy model in most clinical interventions. Psychology services also offer specialized treatment programs for drug-addicted inmates, sex offenders, and inmates who have been sexually assaulted.

Psychotropic Medications

Psychotropic medications are available to inmates in Bureau custody. While psychology services are responsible for the mental health care of inmates, medications are only prescribed and dispensed through the health services department. Inmates receiving such medication are monitored through chronic care clinics.

How to Survive Prison | Surviving Prison

Education, Work, and Programming Inside Federal Prisons

Every inmate inside the Federal Bureau of Prisons has educational, job, and programming opportunities. Programming, for the most part, is entirely voluntary. However, work and, in some cases, education is required for all Bureau inmates.

Drug Treatment Programs

There are a wide variety of programs available to federal inmates. The psychology services department is responsible for implementing and overseeing many core Bureau programs. Drug and addiction treatment programs are a significant part of the psychology department’s efforts.

Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP)

The Bureau offers three-drug treatment programs. The Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) is the most well-known and well-established program. Authorized by Congress, RDAP is a nine-month, 500-hour program offered in multiple institutions. Inmates who successfully complete RDAP are eligible for a sentence reduction of up to one year.

RDAP inmates live in residential housing units where treatment takes place. As such, the environment inside these prison cells tends to be healthier and more pro-social. This makes surviving prison that much easier.

Many categories of inmates are ineligible for the RDAP sentence reduction, however. Most notably, any inmate convicted of what the Bureau considers a crime of violence will not receive a sentence reduction for RDAP completion. This includes crimes involving a gun or the sexual abuse of a child.

Other Substance Abuse Treatment Programs

Every Bureau institution offers the Drug Abuse Education Course (DRUG-ED) and the Non-Residential Drug Abuse Program (NR-DAP).

The DRUG-ED course is 12 to 15 hours in duration and requires completing a final examination. The NR-DAP program is primarily intended for inmates awaiting placement in RDAP. It also enrolls inmates who do not qualify for RDAP or are otherwise in need of drug treatment. The NR-DAP program consists of 90- to 120-minute weekly sessions for 12 to 24 weeks.

Sex Offender Treatment

Psychology services are also responsible for sex offender programming. There are two treatment options available for sex offenders inside federal prisons:

  • Non-Residential Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-NR)
  • Residential Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-R)

SOTP-R is a high-intensity, voluntary program lasting from 12 to 18 months. It is only available at FMC Devens and USP Marion. The SOTP-NR program is a less intense, 9- to 12-month program offered at all eight of the Bureau’s Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP) facilities.

One of the distinct benefits of SOMP institutions is that they tend to be far softer facilities, making surviving prison infinitely easier. Likewise, due to the easier prison culture, the experience inside prison cells is also more pleasant.

Health Treatment Programs

Other programs overseen by the psychology department include:

  • Bureau Rehabilitation and Values Enhancement (BRAVE) Program
  • Challenge Program
  • Mental Health Step-Down Unit Program
  • Resolve Program
  • Skills Program
  • Steps Toward Awareness, Growth, and Emotional Strengths (STAGES) Program

These mental health programs address a variety of intellectual and personality disorders, provide support services for mentally ill inmates, and address issues faced by younger, first-time inmates serving shorter sentences. These programs can be instrumental to surviving prison for those new to the prison experience.

Educational Programs

The Bureau offers localized programs in addition to psychology services programs. These supplemental programs primarily focus on recidivism reduction and reentry issues.

Educational opportunities in the Bureau of Prisons are divided into required and voluntary categories.

GED and ESL Programs

Inmates who have not graduated high school or earned a GED must attend literacy or GED classes. Failure to attend these classes can result in the loss of good conduct time and other sanctions. Participation is no longer required once an inmate earns a GED.

Inmates who do not speak English must participate in the English as a Second Language (ESL) Program. Participants in the ESL Program may receive incentives for participation and completion. These incentives are limited to small cash awards, certificates, etc. Inmates required to attend the ESL Program will be disciplined if they fail to participate.

Other Educational Programs

There are numerous voluntary educational opportunities available inside federal prisons. Some of these options are even available inside the inmate’s prison cell.

Every institution offers a selection of Adult Continuing Education (ACE) classes. These are classes taught by inmates for inmates. Common ACE classes include Accounting, Writing, History, and Spanish.

Additionally, secondary education is available to all Bureau inmates. These are primarily limited to correspondence courses that inmates purchase. Christopher Zoukis, Zoukis Consulting Group’s Managing Director, earned his bachelor’s degree and MBA from the regionally accredited Adams State University through correspondence while incarcerated in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. To learn more about correspondence programs accessible to inmates, see our Prison Education Guide (Prison Legal News Publishing, 2016).

Prison Libraries

In addition to hosting ACE classes and the higher education program, each Bureau Education Department has a library. Libraries vary from institution to institution.

As a rule, libraries provide inmates with a limited variety of resources. Federal prison libraries typically offer inmates access to a computer-based electronic law library, typewriters, and a copy machine. Bureau libraries also stock a selection of fiction and non-fiction books, magazines, newspapers, and reference material.

Inmate Work Assignments

Federal regulations and Bureau policy require every physically and medically able inmate to work while incarcerated. Available jobs fall into just about every category imaginable. A federal prison is essentially a self-sufficient, stand-alone city, and the inmates living there keep the city running.

Most jobs are low- to mid-level and pay next to nothing. Kitchen workers, groundskeepers, landscapers, barbers, clerks, and maintenance workers earn anywhere from $0.12 to $0.40 an hour, or a minimum of $5.25 per month. Specialized workers, such as commissary, facilities, and UNICOR factory workers earn more.

Depending on the job and the inmate’s work ethic, an inmate in federal prison can expect to earn from $5 to $250 per month. No-show, no-pay jobs are usually also available. These are available because most institutions have more inmates than available jobs. While some inmates loathe their work assignments, others use them to fill their time, helping them to survive prison.

Money Matters Inside Prison

Inmates in the Federal Bureau of Prisons may not possess U.S. currency at any time. However, sending, receiving, and spending money while in federal prison is possible. Indeed, inmates require funds to access the TRULINCS public messaging system, make direct dial telephone calls, and shop at the institutional commissary.

If you have a loved one incarcerated in federal prison, ensure to send them funds. Money in prison goes a long way toward making the prison experience more bearable. While inmates won’t starve, purchasing warmer clothes, MP3 players, and food makes surviving prison infinitely easier.

How to Send Money to Federal Inmates

The Bureau operates a trust account in which all funds received on an inmate’s behalf and all of the inmate’s earnings are deposited.

National Lockbox

Outside contacts may send money to an inmate inside federal prison by mailing a postal money order to the Bureau’s “Lockbox.” Money orders should be made payable to the inmate’s first and last name, followed by the inmate’s eight-digit registration number. All funds submitted on an inmate’s behalf through the U.S. mail must be addressed as follows:

Federal Bureau of Prisons

[Inmate’s First and Last Name]

[Inmate’s Eight-Digit Registration Number]

P.O. Box 474701

Des Moines, Iowa 50947-0001

Western Union

The Bureau also accepts Western Union transfers on behalf of inmates. Western Union charges a fee for this service, but money transferred this way generally arrives in an inmate’s account within two to four hours.

Western Union’s website processes online transfers. Family and friends can also visit a physical Western Union location to send funds. Additionally, money can be sent using a credit or debit card through, calling 1-800-634-3422 (option 2), or in-store using the blue Quick Collect form.

When transferring funds via Western Union, you must provide this information:

  • The inmate’s committed name
  • The inmate’s eight-digit registration number
  • City Code: FBOP
  • State Code: DC

Sending Money Out of Prison

Inmates may send money from their institutional account to outside contacts via U.S. Treasury Check. Requests to send funds are made using Form BP-199. Inmates can initiate and monitor outgoing money transfers through the TRULINCS computer system.

Paying Fines and Restitution

The Bureau operates the Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (IFRP) to encourage inmates to meet legitimate financial obligations. In most cases, the obligations covered by the IFRP are court-ordered fines, fees, and restitution.

Staff at each prison (most likely the correctional counselor) meet with inmates to set up payment plans for these financial obligations. Payments generally start at a minimum of $25 per quarter. They are based on how much money an inmate has received in the last six months.

The IFRP is considered a voluntary program, but inmates with an obligation who opt not to participate are denied certain privileges. For example, refusing to participate may result in designation to less favorable housing, commissary spending limitations, and restrictions from reentry programs.

Prison Commissary

Each federal prison operates a commissary where inmates can purchase various items. These items make surviving prison that much easier. For example, inmates can purchase items to eat, better clothing, and products for inside their prison cell.

In most cases, inmates shop at the commissary once per week. The Bureau limits how much money inmates can spend at the commissary to ensure parity amongst the population. Currently, the spending limit is $360 per month.

Items available at most institutional commissaries include:

  • Food (e.g., rice, beans, meats, cheeses, candy, sodas, etc.)
  • Hygiene products (e.g., soap, shampoo, razors, etc.)
  • Clothing (e.g., sweat suits, t-shirts, boxers, socks, etc.)
  • Electronics (e.g., radios, MP3 players, batteries, etc.)
  • Over-the-counter medications (e.g., pain relievers, vitamins, etc.)

Recreation Inside Federal Prisons

Federal regulation and Bureau policy encourage inmates to participate in recreation options available in federal prisons. The importance of recreation to inmates cannot be overstated.

Recreation opportunities available to inmates in federal prison can be divided into active and passive categories. Virtually every federal prison provides multiple active recreation options.

Constructive time use and maintaining physical, emotional, and mental health are crucial to enduring a prison term. Prison life is hard enough. Remaining physically fit and mentally engaged is an important means of surviving prison.

Active Recreation Options

Most federal prisons have a large outdoor recreation yard, which generally contains:

  • Track
  • Basketball Court
  • Softball Field
  • Football/Soccer Field
  • Handball Wall
  • Bocce Ball Courts
  • Horseshoe Pits

Free weights are no longer available in most federal prisons, but cardiovascular exercise equipment is often available. Most yards have multiple treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bicycles for inmate use.

Passive Recreation Options

Federal prisons also offer many passive recreation options. These typically occur in housing units or in enclosed, inside recreation areas.

Art programs are common, as are other hobby craft activities such as:

  • Ceramics
  • Leatherwork
  • Models
  • Crochet
  • Woodworking

Most federal prisons also offer a music program stocked with musical instruments of many kinds (e.g., guitars, bass guitars, drums, pianos, etc.). Other passive recreation options include card playing, institutional movies, and board games.

Of course, inmates are free to exercise inside their prison cells. Many federal inmates make weight bags using trash bags or water bottles. They fill these with water, place them in a laundry bag, and use this for working out.

Organized Sports

Organized activities are a significant part of the Bureau’s recreation program. Team activities, such as softball and football leagues, are extremely popular among federal inmates. Bureau recreation departments also sponsor social and cultural clubs and programs, stage shows, and holiday sports tournaments.

Religion Inside Prison

The United States Constitution and federal law prohibit governmental interference with an individual’s religious practices. The right to hold religious beliefs and engage in religious practices extends to federal prisoners.

As such, every federal prison has a religious center, often referred to as a chapel. The Religious Services Department is staffed by trained (and usually ordained) religious personnel. Many different religious services can be found inside federal prisons. Likewise, inmates can read spiritual materials and pray inside their prison cells.

Religious Services

Organized religious services for every recognized belief are held in the chapel. Staff chaplains set the time for such services and lead services in some cases. The Bureau allows outside volunteers and contractors to enter the institution to interact with inmates of their faith and lead services.

In addition to supervising all religious activities, Bureau chaplains provide pastoral care and ensure equity among the recognized religions. Chaplains handle inmate requests for religious accommodation and determine what religious items inmates may possess. Chaplains are also responsible for organizing ceremonial meals for each religion and ensuring that religious holidays and requirements are accommodated (e.g., Ramadan).

Religious Diets

Religious diets are generally available to federal inmates. Every federal prison chow hall operates a “certified” food option. Certified food is Kosher and prepared and packaged off-site. In addition to what is served in the chow hall, Kosher and Halal shelf-stable entrees are available for purchase in every prison’s commissary.

Your Inside Federal Prison Experts

Contact the Zoukis Consulting Group to learn how to survive prison. Our expert criminal justice team can teach you about life inside federal prison and what it is like to live inside a prison cell.

Book a one-hour initial consultation to speak to a federal prison consultant today!