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  • Writer's picturePrisoncology

The Fifty ‘Ten Commandments’ of Prison

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

The Fifty ‘Ten Commandments’ of Prison

According to the latest statistics females make up 6.8 % of the Federal prison population. Males make up 93.2 %. Therefore, the following will be in masculine terms. Additionally, these rules are in no particular order because each of them is equally important.

1. Never snitch. To do so will get you hurt. Or worse. Much worse.

2. Never ‘ear-hustle’. In other words, don’t stick your nose into another inmate’s conversation. Ever.

3. Never walk around naked! Although this would seem like common sense, there are certain guys who feel like they are in a ‘Gentleman’s Club’ where that may have been normal. In prison it is not! Never completely undress in your cell or cubicle either.

4. Don’t walk around with a sad, forlorn look on your face. Every inmate knows how you feel and what you are going through. They will excuse this for a few days. After that ‘Grace Period’ it will not be in your best interest to continue showing your emotions.

5. Never walk into another inmate’s cell or cubicle without their permission. Make yourself known outside of the entrance and ask if you can come in.

6. Do NOT sit on another inmate’s bunk without asking.

7. Always ask your ‘Cellie” if you can invite another inmate into your cube. This is respectful.

8. Walk out of the cell or cubicle when your Cellie has just returned from showering or is changing. Showing them respect here will get you the same returned.

9. If you are assigned an upper bunk, do not step on the bottom bunk. Ever. Use the ladder.

10. Do not disturb your Cellie when they go to sleep. If you stay awake longer, be respectful.

11. Keep your cell or cubicle clean and neat. Pick up after yourself. Also, during shakedowns do everything you can to be the last one out. This will prevent someone from throwing contraband of any kind into your cell or cubicle where it will be considered yours when found.

12. Never peer or look into another inmate's living space.

13. Never steal. Never steal. NEVER STEAL.

14. Never lie. You may have been led to believe that inmates lie all the time. Many do. They are not thought highly of and are ostracized by others in the yard.

15. Never tell another inmate where you are from.

16. Never show pictures of your significant other. Especially if she sent you something ‘revealing’. Nude or inappropriate pictures are not allowed in prison. They will be confiscated if sent through the mail. If found in your living space you, and possibly your ‘Cellie’ can be issued a disciplinary report (known as ‘a shot’).

17. Never pick up or remove anything from an otherwise vacant chair. Take nothing left on windowsills. If it’s not yours leave it alone.

18. Ask permission BEFORE you sit in a seat in the TV room. TV rooms are known to be where most problems between inmates occur. NEVER, EVER, EVER TOUCH THE CHANNELS ON THE TV!!!!!

19. Always be respectful. Whether you respect someone or not, be respectful.

20. Never cut in line. Whether it is the Chow line, the medical line or any organized gathering – don’t cut!

21. Never stare another man down.


23. Never tell another con your private business.

24. Never ask another con how long their sentence is, or what they are in prison for. If they want you to know, they’ll tell you.

25. When another inmate asks how you are doing (something that the kinder inmates will ask newbies) DO NOT have some ‘cute’ answer like “Livin the dream”, “I can’t wait until I get out of here” and the like. It is insulting to guys who have been down for years – and extremely disrespectful.

26. Don’t hang around with the staff. They are NOT your friends, and you will immediately be suspected of being a rat.

27. Don’t gamble. If you do however, have the money to cover your debt. You can (and likely will) get hurt if you don’t. The other alternative of not paying up is to check yourself into the SHU – Special Housing Unit – Solitary. Immediately.

28. Don’t borrow money unless you are 150 % certain you can pay it back in a timely fashion. Best advice is to never borrow money in the first place.

29. Never accept anything handed to you from another inmate. For example, you happen to be walking by and someone hands you something let’s say - DON’T TAKE IT. Chances are excellent it’s something that’s not allowed in prison and they’re handing it off to someone else to take the fall.

30. Don’t throw your garbage in another inmate’s garbage can.

31. Never, ever, EVER, gossip about another inmate. The walls have ears in prison. Violate this rule and you WILL suffer the consequences.

32. Never be alone in the same space or room with a female staff member.

33. Be respectful to the staff.

34. Shower regularly. Every day is recommended. Inmates will put someone who doesn’t on ‘Shower watch’ and they have very novel ways to ‘encourage and help’ an inmate who does not keep themselves clean. There are no communal showers in Federal prison.

35. Always wear shower shoes (flip-flops) when taking a shower.

36. Never boast or brag about yourself and/or your accomplishments. Most inmates will not trust someone who does, won’t believe them anyway, and at worst will loath the man who does so. BS is easily picked up in the yard.

37. Walk straight with good posture, with your eyes ahead, never shuffle or take baby-steps. To do so conveys someone as effeminate – not advisable in lock-up.

38. Have manners - but don’t overdo it.

39. Owning up to honest mistakes will cause others to respect you.

40. When you are assigned a job in prison, do it impeccably. Your work ethics will be noticed. Do not let other inmates have to do your work for you. Doing so is not wise – or healthy.

41. Avoid fighting. Allow small (very small) disrespectfulness to pass. But if you are confronted, someone lays hands on you or comes at you (yes that way), stand up for yourself. Do not allow anyone to push you around. It is better to get a beating than to live like a coward in prison. That reputation will haunt you – in so many unwanted ways - until the day you leave.

42. Keep your word. If you tell someone you will do something, do it!

43. Do not leave your home address where others can see it. Make certain you leave nothing behind when you leave an area. Other inmates have been known to ‘visit’ a wife, a family, while the man is gone. This is not a joke. It happens. Be very vigilant when it comes to those you love. YOU must protect them, even in prison.

44. Do not hang up a phone if it is hanging off the hook. The person may have gone to retrieve something.

45. Phones are monitored in prison. Do not discuss anything confidential or important on the phone. Also, there will be other inmates nearby that may overhear something.

46. Do not sit with or associate with ‘Cho-mos’ (Child sex offenders/pornographers). You will be branded forever if you do.

47. Do not associate with known snitches. See the above.

48. Don’t give your opinion on anything unless you are asked for it.

49. Don’t ask stupid questions in group meetings. If you are unsure of something you’ve heard, ask a respected inmate to explain later.

50. Never, EVER do anything that will cause other inmates to suffer consequences because of your actions. To do so will put you in mortal peril.

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