Long term inmates know that the way they behave in prison during the first few weeks can definitely determine if their stay will be an easy or a difficult one. Being an inmate can be a stressing experience, but if you learn to follow certain etiquette rules, you can shape up your reputation while you are serving your sentence.
It is a rule of thumb amongst inmates that problems are kept private. Whatever issue arrives, they are solved between the inmates involved and no external help is asked from the unit manager or counselor. Being able to successfully cope with a problem with an inmate is very important as it may determine your chances of survival. If you see something going on, it is highly advisable that you keep it to yourself. Unless it is a life threatening situation and your life is at stake, you should always remember that you are an inmate, not a cop.
Another important etiquette rule you should follow is to mind your own business or, as inmates usually say, “do your own time”. Minding your own business is absolutely paramount to avoiding trouble. Rumours, gossip and speculation cannot be avoided in prisons and it is important to learn not to get involved in other inmates’ affair. It is highly advisable that you never pass gossip along as this attitude may put you at risk of being confronted by the inmate in question or of finding yourself in the middle of a heated argument. Needless to say, avoid asking many questions that other inmates may find too personal, especially regarding their legal situation. Many of them may wonder if you are not interested in their privacy data to share it with cops later on. It is also advisable that you never look into other cells or cubes while you are walking around the unit. Inmates may think you are either a thief or a pervert and be confronted.