Prison Rules: What Are Minor Infractions In Federal Prison?
By Richard McDonald
Following all the prison rules is important. Even the smallest of infractions can result in disciplinary action. The “inmate handbook” lists all infractions and their severity levels. Make sure you understand all the expectations. If you know what to expect, it will be easier to follow the rules.
Do disciplinary actions affect your privileges?
Yes. A disciplinary action, also known as a “shot,” can change what you’re allowed to do in prison. Getting a “shot” can affect the following:
- commissary rights,
- phone call privileges,
- email privileges,
- visitation rights,
- entry into the residential drug abuse program,
- entry into the dog impact program,
- CARES Act home confinement consideration,
- early release to a halfway house and
- good time credits and First Step Act credits.
If you have zero infractions over the course of the year, you can earn good time credits. Those who commit more serious infractions, including major infractions, may be sent to the special housing unit (SHU).
Incarcerated people want to serve their time and get out. They want to go home as soon as possible. So, there is a certain sense of camaraderie that keeps everyone in line.
Is smoking against the prison rules?
Yes. Without a doubt, this is the most common rule prisoners break. It is hard for prisoners to give up smoking when they come into prison already addicted. As a result, prisoners smuggle cigarettes into prison in various ways.
Prisoners smoke behind sheds, on benches and in the stairwells. The bathroom is another popular place to smoke.
Because of the limited availability of cigarettes, they are quite expensive. I knew many fellow prisoners who would pay up to twenty dollars for one cigarette. For that reason, incarcerated people would buy them in bulk to get the cost down. They’d also buy them together and share cigarettes. This was very popular.
Certain prisoners would perform legal work in exchange for “smokes.” Others would smuggle food from the kitchen for them.
The medical center offers smoking cessation programs. But they are expensive, and it takes about six weeks to get an appointment. If you get caught smoking, you will receive a shot.
Can you be anywhere in the prison at any time?
No. Being in an unauthorized area is against the rules. These are common examples of being in unauthorized areas:
- going out the back exit of the dorm,
- being in the kitchen after hours and
- staying in the library past open hours.
If you get caught doing any of these, it will be at the discretion of the CO whether you get a shot.
Is making money on the side against prison rules?
Yes. So-called “side hustles” are against the rules of the prison. Some prisoners operate side hustles to make ends meet anyway. Some examples of the types of side businesses include the following:
- operating a laundry service,
- cleaning other prisoners’ cubes,
- doing legal work and
- operating a commissary store.
If caught doing any of these things, you are violating the rules. These are minor infractions. You may not get in too much trouble for making money on the side. It depends on the attitude of the CO and whether they want to write you up.
Even breaking minor rules while in prison can affect you in a negative way. Learn the rules and expectations of the prison early.