5 Common Misconceptions About Prison and What the Truth Really Is

The perspective of a prison warden or guard is quite different than that of the prison inmate. The inmate views prison incarceration negatively, while the warden views it positively. Here, we will examine 5 common misconceptions about prison and we give you the truth.

The Food is Bad

This one might have a hint of truth, but it depends on where you are and the behavior of the inmates. Misbehave, and you are likely to get food that isn’t as great. And while the food may be good, sometimes the portions are really small, so don’t waste your food. Most prisons do have the option to purchase food from the commissary, and a lot of prisoners have a bargaining system to help them get the food that they really want.

There is No Medical Treatment

The truth is that medical treatment for prison inmates is readily available, but you may have to fight for it. While prisons are required to ensure that inmates receive proper medical treatment, sometimes the standard falls below what inmates would receive if they were not in prison and authorities have no reason to fix this without external pressure. A 2009 study by Andrew P Wilper and his colleagues found that many inmates with a serious chronic condition are not receiving proper care and many inmates with mental conditions do not get proper treatment until they leave the hospital. Lack of proper medical treatment could lead to serious complications and death, so this isn’t something to joke about. If you are not receiving adequate medical treatment, this is something you need to bring up with an attorney.

There is No Education Available

The truth is that access to education is readily available in most areas. In fact, many prisons have classrooms, workshops, and other opportunities to receive an education. Some of them even partner with local universities and colleges to allow inmates to participate in distance learning programs. Inmates can take classes on basic life skills or learn a trade. However, these educational classes are often grouped by cell block, which means if you aren’t in the right block, you may not be able to take the classes you want or gain the skills that you need to build a life. You can request a transfer to a certain block, but transfers aren’t always grant, leaving this option outside your control.

You Will Lose All Your Family

This one may depend on your family. There is no guarantee that families will support an inmate, but prison isn’t going to be the thing that stops them. In fact, most prison officials encourage inmates to maintain close family relationships, as this can help inmates to do better with prison. All prisons allow inmates to have in-person visitation with family, provided that the inmate is not violating the rules. If an inmate is married, they are occasionally allowed conjugal visits as well. However, the amount and the quality of the visiting time will depend on the prison and the way they set up visitation. Many inmates feel that they don’t have enough time with their family, if they visit.

Everyone is a Violent Criminal


Image: Pixabay

The truth is that the majority of prison inmates are incarcerated for non-violent crimes. Inmates are grouped according to violence level and type of crime, so you don’t have truly dangerous inmates milling around with non-violent offenders. However, the overcrowding can lead even the best people to lash out, which means there is always a chance of getting hurt, especially if you are in a crowded block.

Many people have a skewed vision of what it is like in prison because of books, movies, and tv shows, but that doesn’t mean that it is all sunshine and roses. Prison is rehabilitation and a punishment, but the current state of our prisons is probably worse than it needs to be.


Author: Jennifer Montgomery