How to Prepare for Prison


How to Prepare for Prison

While criminal defense attorneys strive for the best outcome for their clients, in some cases, the most favorable outcome still involves time in prison. Prisons in Arizona are run the Arizona Department of Corrections (DOC) and cater to individuals convicted of felonies with incarceration lengths of over a year. While criminal offenders may be incarcerated in either prisons or jails depending on the offense, preparing for time in prison involves considerably more forethought due to the more long-term nature of the sentence.

All Arizona prison locations can be found in the DOC directory.

Once in prison, it is important for every inmate to remain free of drugs, follow the rules of their prison, avoid entanglements in “prison politics,” and be respectful to staff.

Anyone who is facing time in prison should consider all the following factors in preparation of their stay:

Establish a Main Point of Contact

A main point of contact outside of prison will be able to be reached by prison staff should an emergency arise. Additionally, while defense attorneys can schedule calls and meetings with their clients in prison, having a defendant-approved contact can also be helpful to the attorney. Ideal points of contact are spouses, family members, or close friends.

Get Your Financial Affairs in Order

A person’s world doesn’t stop when they go into prison. Financial obligations will remain throughout the duration of a prison sentence. Things to consider:

  • Do you have bills set for auto-pay with a credit card that will expire while you’re imprisoned?
  • Do you have bills that will be due during your incarceration that are not set to auto-pay?
  • Consider obtaining a Power of Attorney to handle your funds during your incarceration.
  • Will you have a way to obtain money, or someone who can periodically send you funds, while you’re imprisoned to pay for things like stamps, phone calls, shop in the commissary, etc.?

Research What Belongings to Bring

Prisons have strict rules regarding what may be brought in and often only provide necessities for purchase in their commissary. Future inmates should ensure that what they bring is necessary, sturdy, and not flashy. At intake, Arizona inmates are only permitted to bring in:

  • Legal papers/documentation (but no crime scene photos).
  • Plastic frame prescription eyeglasses or reading glasses.
  • Contact lenses and their storage case.
  • A plain band wedding ring valued at $150 or less.
  • A wristwatch worth under $25.

Inmate property, including a list of items that are permitted once imprisoned, is available in the Arizona DOC Inmate Property packet.

Plan for Medical Needs

Inmates who require prescription medication should research the types of medications that are permitted in their prison. From there, future inmates should establish a plan of action with their medical and dental providers to document their medical needs, foresee potential medical complications and how to handle them, and plan a strategy for how to handle long-term care that will serve them well if and when they are released.

Consider How to Pass the Time

Remaining in a positive headspace helps inmates keep their spirits high. Establishing and maintaining both short- and long-term goals is vital to every inmate’s success. Rather than engaging in negative behaviors or wallowing in self-pity during down time, inmates should implement some or all of the following strategies:

  • Learn a new skill that you love to do that will serve you upon release. This can range from writing to trade skills.
  • Earn an education certification, such as a GED or higher education certificate or degree. This can help your post-prison prospects and keep your mind sharp.
  • Create a reading list in advance of books that are enjoyable, educational, or inspirational and set a reading goal, such as reading one book per month for the duration of your sentence.
  • Get in the habit of journaling. This can help you stay aware of your mental health and focus or even document your steps to remain on the path to success.

Staying busy in positive ways helps to avoid run-ins with prison politics that can get inmates in trouble with correctional staff.

Make Sure Loved Ones Know How to Communicate With You

Research in advance how friends and family members can send you letters, parcels, and emails, as well as how they can call or visit you. It is also important to understand the rules surrounding each communication means so that mail or visitation isn’t denied. Maintaining regular contact with the “outside world” helps to keep spirits high.

The Arizona DOC provides information for visitation on their website.



With offices in Lake Havasu City and Scottsdale, our firm serves the entire state of Arizona, with a particular focus on criminal defense, family law, and juvenile cases.

Our goal is for the best outcome for your criminal case, which can include:

  • charges that are reduced or dropped.
  • top experts reviewing your case.
  • aggressive negotiations with the prosecution for plea bargains.
  • fines or probation in lieu of jail time.

At Rideout Law Group, our attorneys are able to expertly examine the evidence in your case to provide a strong strategy for argument that leads to an outcome that is most favorable to you. We have experience in all types of criminal cases for both adults and juveniles, with positive outcomes both in plea negotiations as well as jury trial settings.

Call us today for a free consultation at 480-584-3328.

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