Can you make friends in prison? Should you make friends in prison? These are questions I get asked often regarding the five years I spent in Federal prison. The short answer is yes, you can and should make friends in prison. Of course there are different types of friends no matter whether you are in prison or on the street. I had just a couple of guys I trusted to speak with about family and other important issues. We had a deeper relationship and encouraged each other during down times and challenged each other when we needed it.
There was another set of friends I spent time with in activities like Bible study, working out and attending church services. These were good guys and ones I enjoyed being with, but didn’t usually know as well as my closer friends.
There’s another degree of friendship I would call acquaintances. These were guys I knew and would associate with if the situation called for it. We had a nodding friendship but it was fairly superficial. These were probably most of the relationships I experiences in prison. It is difficult to trust others in prison at is best to keep a healthy caution when interacting with others.
Finally there are the friendships formed out of necessity. One example of this is when i entered population at Tidewater Regional jail. As I’ve mentioned before, there is a racial divide in jail and prisons. This was very much the case at Tidewater and when I entered the pod of 40 men I was directed to the “white” area where I met various guys from white supremacists to drug traffickers. I learned quickly to just do my best to fit in and not draw a lot of attention to myself. This is where I picked up the below-the-radar and no-drama philosophy that sustained me through my 5-year sentence.
So, yes, you can make friends, but you need to be discerning about those with whom you choose to foster such a relationship.