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Orange County Jail

Going to jail for the first time
Going to jail for the first time is difficult - especially if you come from a very conservative background and have not had a chance to meet anybody who has been incarcerated before. My goal is to share a little information about the process of incarceration so first-timers can know what to expect.

Everybody makes mistakes
If this is the first time you have been to jail you probably feel like you have made a bigger mistake than anybody else in the world, or that you are one of the few unlucky ones who actually got caught. Don't worry, this isn't true - in fact, chances are that you have known a person who has been to jail at some point in their life. Going to jail is not something that people typically brag about and it is surprisingly easy to keep a secret. Everybody has made a big mistake at some point in their lives and just as most people learn to overcome these mistakes in judgement, you will one day come out of this experience a better person.

Remember that other inmates are not that different from you
Another common misunderstanding that most first-time inmates have is that they are different from everybody else who is in jail. While it is true that some offenders (especially repeat offenders) may not have learned lessons from their jail experiences, most people who are incarcerated are really trying to become better people just like you are. You will definitely meet people similar to yourself in jail - try to be the type of friend to them that you are looking for. This will make your time go a lot faster.

Try to find something that will help pass the time
Some inmates prefer playing cards or reading books. Some jails have Jail Industries programs that allow inmates to learn new trades, skills and even make money. Some jails offer college courses to inmates. Take advantage of all of the opportunities available to you and you will find that the time will go much faster. Whether you are doing one month or five years you will get through this trial and, if you work toward it, one day your life will be better than you ever anticipated it would be. Keep your head up and try to be better person for the time you do.

Sam Stanfield is a consultant to first-time criminals sentenced to serving in the Utah County Jail. After doing time for a violent offense five years ago Sam decided to help other first-time offenders prepare and survive in the penal system.