In most movies and TV shows, when somebody is released from prison, another person is always waiting for them at the gate, and from there, an adventurous life awaits. For instance, When the Suits TV show’s Mike Ross (Patrick J Adams) was released from prison, he found his colleague Harvey Spector (Gabriel Macht) and partner Rachael Zane (Meghan Markle) waiting for him. However, this isn’t usually the case in real-life scenarios. Adapting to regular life, especially after serving a lengthy prison sentence, is difficult. While serving time, most prisoners pick up some habits that are not only difficult to break but are alien to the greater community. Here, we discuss 18 hard-to-break prison habits.

1. Hoarding Personal Items

The ugly truth is that personal items like toilet paper and sanitary pads are limited in most prisons. Therefore, it is common practice amongst inmates to hold onto as many personal items as possible. Once released, this habit is tough to break free from. Most former inmates find themselves hoarding personal items even though there is no need to.

2. Reading

In prison, reading is the primary source of entertainment. Yes, prisoners get some TV time, but it’s only a few minutes every day, and the content watched is regulated. So, to keep their minds occupied, inmates read a lot. Even after being released, many former inmates prefer a book or newspaper over TV.

3. Pocketing Cigarettes

Even for the non-smokers, a good number of inmates will pocket a cigarette when offered one. For a long time, cigarettes have been the go-to currency in prison; they can be used to trade for other items or as a bargaining chip. It takes a while for those who have been previously incarcerated to stop pocketing cigarettes in the outside world.

4. Being Hypervigilant

One thing that the movies get right is that prison is not safe. An attack can come from anyone or anywhere. This is why many former inmates are hypervigilant, especially in public places. They frequently check their backs and analyze everyone within their surroundings. Alternatively, many former inmates always have their backs on the wall for safety. Such a position allows one to observe incoming threats while avoiding ones from the rear side.

5. Not Using a Fork or Knife

There are no forks in prison because they can be used as weapons. All meals are eaten with a spoon. Therefore, many ex-prisoners become so accustomed to spoons that they completely ignore forks even when set free; the same is true for knives. While locked up, a prisoner’s mind is trained to avoid sharp objects. There is also the fear of being found in the possession of weapons.

6. Taking Very Short Showers

Everything in prison is limited, including the time one is given to shower. As a result, ex-prisoners take very short showers because this habit has been engraved in their minds. Until they embrace the freedom of the outside world, former inmates won’t spend more than five minutes in the shower.

7. Being Up By 5/6 AM

Most prisons from around the world have a requirement that the inmates need to be up by 5 to 6 am. After getting accustomed to waking up in these early hours, sleeping past 6 am feels wrong for many ex-convicts.

8. Eating Fast

Because of the time restrictions in prison, inmates become used to eating very fast. This habit is difficult to break, especially for those who did longer times. Another reason why ex-prisoners eat very fast is to avoid their meals being snatched by others. Like in all facilities, there are bullies in prison, and the longer food is on a plate, the easier it is to lose it to another inmate.

9. Doing Laps

Most prisoners share a common habit: “doing laps” in the yard. Because freedom of movement is constricted and the body is tired of spending the entire day on the cell bed, laps around the yard come in handy. After getting out, former inmates may find themselves doing laps outside their houses when bored.

10. Not Trusting People

Unfortunately, prison doesn’t have a lot of good people. Therefore, if someone is nice to you, they probably have a hidden agenda. This lifestyle makes it hard for former inmates to trust people easily.

11.  Sleeping with the Lights On

Some prisons never switch off the lights at night to prevent bad behavior. Some inmates adjust to sleeping with the lights on, and after getting out, it becomes too difficult to sleep with their bedroom lights turned off.

12. Isolation

Due to spending most of their time alone, ex-prisoners get used to isolation. Even if they were social butterflies, breaking free from the habit of isolating themselves may take some time.

13. Use of Foul Language and Curse Words

Majority of the inmates use very foul language and lots of curse words. Often, new prisoners pick up on such language, and it becomes difficult to stop using such expressions when they get out.

14. Not Making Any Plans

After being in prison for a long time, inmates become accustomed to waking up, eating, working out and going back to sleep. Upon release, most ex-inmates stick to that routine and rarely make plans. It takes a while to know they can do anything (legal) they want.

15. Making Jail Snacks

Jail snacks are the only comfort food for prisoners. Therefore, they become so attached to them that they continue to make them at home even after being released.

16. Hiding the Phone for No Reason

Inmates who had access to “illegal” phones while being locked up will always hide their phones when someone walks into the room. It becomes a reflex that’s difficult to do away with.

17. Flushing a Lot While Taking the Number 2

Prisoners who share cells and toilets develop a habit of constantly flushing the toilet while taking the number 2 to prevent foul odor. After their release, this habit is challenging to break free from, even if an inmate is living alone. Toilet cleanliness is a standard practice in many prisons.

18. Waiting for Someone to Open a Door for You

Doors in prisons are usually operated by correctional officers. This is why many ex-prisoners always wait for others to open or close doors for them.

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Last Update: June 8, 2024