If you are headed to federal prison and you are reading this now, regardless of the details of your case and the term you are facing, you have been blessed with the opportunity to prepare for your time in prison. Take advantage of this. Many of my neighbors in FMC Devens related stories of having been going about their daily lives, oblivious to the fact that they were the target of an investigation, when federal agents knocked down their doors, put them in handcuffs and led them away. Since that day, they had not known freedom. While the waiting and wondering is nerve wracking, the opportunity to properly prepare will make your transition to life behind bars much more comfortable.
Mental Preparation- Since you first received news of your indictment, your mental state has probably not been great. Maybe you've had trouble sleeping and eating and in general you've felt like a nervous wreck. While this is understandable, it is not productive. You must soon come to terms with the facts and accept reality.
o You put yourself in this position
o Life is not fair
o You are going to prison
o It probably will not be as bad as you are expecting
Even if it is warranted, blaming your lawyer, judge, friends, family, business partners or anyone else sources energy wasted; energy that should be focused on preparing for the next stage of your life. Dwelling on any negative emotions will only yield negative outcomes. It is crucial that you get in the right mental state. One way to do this is by forcing yourself to look for the positives that this situation may bring to your life.
In my case, even though I was facing a worst case scenario of only 2-3 years and I was discharged to my home until sentencing, I went through countless sleepless nights and stress filled days and I experienced a wide range of emotions including shock, despair, shame, hopelessness and anger, both at myself for taking such a stupid risk and at my lack of control over the circumstances. Ultimately I realized that I needed to calm down and look at the bigger picture. For me, this mean accepting that at the time my indictment was handed down, I was at a place that I did not want to be in my life. It meant acknowledging that at the very least, this experience was serving to rock the boat and ensures drastic change, even if it meant going to prison first. It also intends showing true appreciation and gratitude for the many friends and acquaintances who came forward with words of support and encouragement. No matter what your situation, there are always positives. Whether or not you choose to see them is up to you.
Physical Preparation- Your mental state can also be greatly improved by paying attention to your physical wellbeing. Maybe it's the last thing you feel like doing now, but you can not let yourself fall into a depressed and lethargic state. Force yourself to get out and run, go to the gym, play basketball, go hiking. Anything. It is a great way to work off the pent up stress.
If you have a number of months before sending or self surrender and you are currently in a reasonable state of health, I highly recommend beginning an intense fitness regime, which includes weight lifting towards the goal of placing on a few extra pounds of muscle. Much of how you are treated in prison will depend on how you are perceived. If you appear fit and appear to be someone who would be capable of holding their own in a fight, then you're unintentionally to become a target of any physical altercation. Those inmates looking for an easy target will simply look elsewhere. Further, if you find yourself in a physical altercation, you are of course going to want to be able to protect yourself.
If you have been prescribed any anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax or Valium or any prescription sleeping aids, begin to cut down on your dosages and slowly wean yourself off these drugs completely. These medications will only be given to a federal inmate in the most extraordinary of circumstances. While central nervous system depressants are extremely effective, sudden termination causes exaggerated feelings of the very symptoms that they are designed to control. The last thing you want is to be going through withdrawal during your first few days and weeks in prison. If you have been prescribed anti-depressants on the other hand, for better or worse, the BOP has a propensity for handing these drugs out like candy and you can expect your prescription to be continued through the term of your incarceration.