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What Are Holidays Like in Prison?

What Are Holidays Like in Prison?

I’ve never been a vacation person, so when I was sentenced to 15 years for my first marijuana use, I was surprised how much being incarcerated on vacation affected me.

I realized in my heart that vacations are great when I’m in the real world. I usually have to take paid time off, or if my job requires me to work on vacation, I get vacation pay. Either way, the holidays are great!

Aside from money, vacations are a great opportunity to spend time with family and/or go somewhere for a little vacation. Three or four day long weekends are something I really look forward to and experience, so I realized in prison that I enjoy vacations more than I thought.

All of this leads us to today’s blog post: What’s a holiday in prison like?

In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:

  • Are prisoners given special meals during the holidays?
  • Can you visit inmates on vacation?
  • Are there any special inmate activities for the holidays?
  • How Do Prisoners Cope With Holidays?

Are prisoners given special meals during the holidays?

Believe it or not – based on my experience – inmates do get special meals on Thanksgiving, Christmas and 4th of July. Often, local charities donate food so inmates can enjoy a traditional holiday meal.

On Thanksgiving we got a plate of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies, rolls, salad and dessert. In fact, we ate so much food at Thanksgiving that we needed an extra bowl for dessert because it wouldn’t fit the tray.

Surprisingly, it’s pretty darn good for a Thanksgiving meal, and it’s one meal I look forward to all year long. However, there have been years where I have had to wait a long time for the food in my stomach.

Let me explain, the cafeteria operates on a daily rotating schedule. It’s divided by housing unit and wing, so some days you’ll be one of the first inmates to eat, and other days you’ll be the last.

On a normal day, a certain percentage of inmates would go to the mess hall for any meal, and the call to go would ring quickly, whether you were at the front or back of the line. However, during the holidays, everyone in the camp went to eat. So, if you are the last housing unit and wing on the schedule, you may have to wait close to two hours for your meal.

At Christmas we also have a special meal that is very close to Thanksgiving dinner, but usually with ham instead of turkey. On July 4th, we get cheeseburgers, baked beans, potato salad, and ice cream. We can’t get to the cafeteria fast enough.

Can you visit inmates on vacation?

Visiting rooms in most prisons are open on major federal and state holidays, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day and July 4th. However, schedules do vary by facility.exist prison insight, we do our best to provide you with an up-to-date visiting schedule for each state and federal prison. So if you have a question about a holiday visit to a particular prison, please look it up in our directory.

Visiting rooms are often very crowded on holidays, so be prepared to show up early.

Additionally, many prisons have special visiting hours on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, in addition to traditional state and federal holidays.

Are there any special inmate activities for the holidays?

Again, the answer to this question is based on facilities. Some prisons have performing arts programs and hold concerts or performances for prisoners on holidays. Others may have extended playtime since there is no school for the holidays.

For prisoners with children, there are special Christmas programs that allow prisoners to make gifts for their children or sign up with charities to provide gifts for children.

How do inmates cope with being locked up during the holidays?

Despite special meals and visitation, the holidays can be an emotionally difficult time for prisoners. Some people just like to hide under the covers in bed and sleep all day because it’s just too much to handle.

There are often religious services during the festival that can help inmates cope with the trauma of being away from loved ones. The phone lines are also extraordinarily long on major holidays, as everyone wants to talk to family, relieve the pain and loneliness, and make the day a little easier.

Do you think you can handle going to jail on a major holiday? Let us know in the comments below.


What are holidays like in prison?