Chapter 1


The main purpose of this manual is to prepare you (and your family) for prison.  Although there is some discussion of prison life and daily routine, the focus is to physically, emotionally, and financially get you, your family and friends ready for incarceration.

Make no mistake; you may be the one “going inside.” But family and friends are heavily affected.   It is up to you to minimize the pain and inconvenience.

Inmates said the first year of incarceration, family concerns were far, far more stressful than daily prison life.  Ironically, they said while waiting to come to prison they worried more about prison life and what was going to happen to them.  When they came to prison the overriding concern was how their family was going to make it without them.  While free they fretted about something they had no control over, when inside they kicked themselves for not doing the smart thing.

You have an opportunity now to learn from their experiences. But you must act!

Many inmates told stories of assets they wanted to keep. Later then wished they had sold those items because they needed the money, could not afford the upkeep like insurance and monthly payments, or family and friends no longer wanted to maintain those assets longer. 

Family won’t be able to sell your assets as easily or get as much as you can.  Therefore carefully consider what needs to be sold as a long term decision.  Family budgets were not set so shortly after arriving money dried up and families were left in difficult situations.  This too is preventable with some forethought.  It is a large exercise in this manual. Be prepared to make some tough choices.

Some inmates wished they had gotten married (or divorced).  Under this kind of distress relationships become markedly closer or weaker.  How many of your relationships can be saved and strengthened with proper planning?  How much relief can be found with a cleaner, more amicable dissolution?  These are questions you must answer after much thought.

There are many things that are or soon will be spiraling out of your control.  The important thing is to make well thought out decisions on the things you can still control.

This manual is broken into easy steps for you and your family to follow.  They need not be completed in order.  Don’t kid yourself, either you can do them or they will be done for you! After hundreds of interviews- it is far more beneficial if you complete these lists yourself.

Time can get away quickly.  Do not put off what you can do now. Talk with family and friends openly about what needs to be done and ask for help.

Asking for help does not relieve you of the responsibility for what happens.  Trust, but verify.

Inmates (mostly drug dealers) wished they had collected debts.  Now is an excellent time to get back loaned items, and cash.  A number of inmates believed they could collect those debts 5,6,7 years after they got arrested.  Not likely.

This manual is going to push you to sell everything that is not absolutely essential to life.  Cash is king, but family must not take the cash and spend it unwisely.  Too many times people who had a windfall of money spent it in haste only to have nothing but debt in the end.

A good workable short term and long term budget is needed.  Anyone who has access to your assets needs to understand it has to last until you (or your family) can provide for themselves.  What you have may not be enough in which case even more difficult decisions have to be made.  It is best of plan for this now.

The emotional needs and reactions of you and your family will also be covered.  The first twelve months is a wild roller coaster of highs and low.

The lows are inevitable.   How you minimize them (and their depths) can make your time away from family much more bearable for you and them.


Chapter 2

Table of Contents

Glossary Terms