The Prison System: 5 Key Facts to Know About Prisons

back view of prisoner standing in handcuffs in corridor

When most people think of the prison system, they just think people inside sit behind bars and wait out their sentence. What if we told you that the prison system is a whole other world inside society?

If you want to learn more about the prison system and some facts about the inside then you’ll want to keep reading!

1. They Work

Prisoners inside the prison system don’t just sit in their cells all day every day. They are kept busy by being assigned work.

With incarceration rates of about 1.08% of working adults incarcerated at a time, there’s work to be done.

Inside the prison, there are laundry, cleaning, cooking, and even working at the commissary (aka store) as jobs. Sometimes, jobs like laundry are actually brought in externally to be done internally for paying companies.

The jobs in prison aren’t very lucrative paying inmates around 10 cents per hour of work. Just enough to save up some money to buy items in the commissary when needed or send to their family.

2. They Can Shop

Speaking of the commissary, they have an internal store that inmates can buy various things.

The commissary sells things like deodorant, feminine menstrual products, soap, as well as cigarettes that the employees can purchase with the money that they make as well as commissary tickets.

These tickets are currency in prison being traded for upgraded items among prisoners or items traded for more tickets.

3. Prisons Have Layouts

Each and every prison has a specific layout and there’s a difference between state and federal prisons.

Prisons have sections divided between the general population, high-risk, and solitary individuals and sometimes even have floors among those sections.

Generally, each of the prison population sections keeps to themselves and do not interact with the other sections of the prison.

4. There’s a Judicial System Within the Judicial System

When someone’s placed inside state and federal prisons, they’re subject to a whole other set of laws.

Prisons will receive something called strikes when they get in trouble which counts against them in bail hearings. Eventually, these strikes can end you up in the hole (aka solitary confinement) depending on their severity.

5. They Have Their Own Language

Prisons actually have their own lingo used day-to-day.

A ‘fish’ is what a new inmate is called, ‘hacks’ refer to prison guards, a ‘cellie’ is a cellmate, ‘rollies’ are hand-rolled cigarettes typically from book pages, and ‘lock it down’ is used by guards to let inmates know to get in their cells and shut the door.

There’s quite an array of words used to get a point across in prison and slang for different items.

Knowing the Prison System

Learning about the prison system gives you an interesting insight into an otherwise mostly unknown population. We know that criminals reside there, but many of us are pretty out of touch with what their day-to-day life is like.

Like what you’ve read? Be sure to check out the rest of our site for more great content!

Like what you’ve read? Be sure to check out the rest of our site for more great content!


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