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Server time (UTC): 2023-09-28 01:26

An RPers Guide to Prison Life

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  • Emerald

Clocking in at just under 7000 words and 12 pages, this document was a bit rushed due to the upcoming event. Seriously though, there is no better time to finish this. Hopefully it proves valuable to at least some of our players in exploring the concepts of a prisoner. It is also useful for those who wish to be officers in a prison.

Before I start, let me get a few things out of the way. Firstly, this guide is based in my personal experience and research relating to a position I have held in the public justice system as a Correctional Officer. This is a double-edged sword.

On one side, I have first-hand knowledge that leads to a more detailed set of information. On the other hand, I have only had dealings with a very select portion of a very large spectrum of different areas. Each of the prison's I have had dealings with are very different from one another in a lot of ways. This means you need to recognize that this guide isn't about absolutes, but rather generalities. This is also based in the US justice system, so may differ quite a bit from other countries.

The second thing you need to be aware of is that I am leaving out portions of the experience. I am writing this guide for RP, so there is no real reason to dwell on maximum security locations or isolation. Most of this guide is focused on a hypothetical medium security facility. Additionally, I am adjusting some aspects to be more in keeping with the DayZ mythos. This means that aspects like phones, mail, electronics, etc are all being left out.

Reader beware! You have been warned.



Whatever passes for justice in the zombie-plagued countryside has found you guilty of something. More importantly, they managed to catch you alive and feel compelled to stick you in a tiny stone room with some iron bars between you and fresh air. Not so simple as it sounds, though.

You are going to get processed. How rough this depends a lot on the country in question. Some involve fire hoses and elbow deep cavity searches. Others it is a more basic strip search. It is one of the more intimate body searches you are going to get though others will pull even when there is just cause (or in some countries just because they feel like it).

Can you sneak something in? Sure. Is it going to be pleasant? Oh... oh no. So very much not. Bonus points when you get something in there really deep and they still find it. You'd be amazed the number of cell phones one finds during these moments. (Radios in the current setting perhaps. Ouch) I'll talk more about this sort of thing under the contraband section.

Nature of the Crime

I have to pause here again and consider what to bother explaining. Let's be honest, most of the crimes in DayZ are going to be violent ones. Sure, there might be theft here and there, but stock manipulation isn't exactly an issue any more. After a lot of consideration, I've decided to do a few breakdowns. The nature of the individual, the threat level they pose and the likely duration of their stay. Bear with me on this.

Nature of the Individual

Okay, this is a loose list. Some of them could probably be broken down into further groupings and all are just off-the-cuff terms for what is to follow. Don't feel that this is everything there is or that you have to just be one of these. Sometimes you are more than one.

Let's start with the innocent. The lion's share of people in prison claim they were set up, framed or had the charges raised above their crime. It makes it pretty well impossible to know who is or isn't innocent. In theory, the vast majority of innocent people either don't go to prison or are exonerated shortly after sentence. The reality is that a few do slip in regardless of the standards set in place.

Moreover, in a situation like we find on DayZ, the judge and jury are almost certainly the ones accusing you in the first place. Most prisoners shouldn't be innocent (gets dull otherwise), but one or two add flavor to the pot. No one will ever know for sure, but maybe one of the dozen people around you really is as innocent as he claims.

One additional variation is the person who is innocent by the standards of normal society, but who are found guilty of a crime that they would not have considered to be a criminal act. This comes up a lot in societies with strict moral codes. The wrong clothes or casual comment can bring an unexpectedly harsh reaction. If you end up in the hands of such a group, you are in a strange spot of being both innocent and guilty.

Next up, those who have been at a place where they didn't see any other choice but to act in a manner that is outside of what they would otherwise deem moral. The most common situation in a zombie survival setting will invariably be a lack of good clothing or food. The poor starving fellow happens across a bag of food and without thinking about the repercussions, begins to eat. Soaked and freezing, perhaps he takes the matches that were laying on the table of an otherwise empty house.

Perhaps even knowing it is absolutely wrong, he sneaks into someone's camp and tries to take off with a rain jacket and some water. He's guilty, but it is a matter of survival rather than ill will. Many times those guilty of such crimes are given some degree of levity if those judging them can sympathize with the situation.

Then there are the criminals who get caught up in a temporary emotion that cloud their better judgment. Many times, up until the crime of passion, they were just like everyone else around them. The situation is often referred to as temporary insanity. The upstanding citizen who suddenly kills his girlfriend when she is caught cheating. The banker who gets hit with all sorts of unfortunate luck right before the final straw of losing his job to budget cuts. In some cases, the sentence may be shorter than otherwise would be the case, depending on the nature of what drove them to the act. For example, the man whose daughter was raped and he took justice into his own hands.

Next up, we have those who suffer from some sort of insanity or medical condition that led to their crime. There are a number of veterans in prison thanks to PTSD for example and is likely to be similarly common in DayZ. Other variations of insanity that led to violence are numerous and often are controlled by medication while they are incarcerated. Note: in most societies you aren't imprisoned because you have a mental disease, but rather for something you did while suffering from the effects of that mental disease.

Lastly are those who are simply antisocial or corrupt to some degree. Criminals of the truest sort. They range from thieves to serial killers. A lot of gang members, rapists, and con artists end up making the general mass of this. Serial killers and cultists are fairly rare.


Threat Level

Now we get to the threat levels. Yeah, minimum security isn't going to happen on this game, but basically they are there for some non-violent crime and are generally serving their sentence without any major misbehavior. When there are multiple facilities, a minimum security prisoner who acts up could get moved to medium security.

Medium security is the lion's share of classification. General population is another term often used. Within a facility, general population is used to refer to the individuals not being held away from the rest of the prisoners. Medium security involves a broad range of mindsets and natures. Some of the prisoners will actually act favorably towards guards thanks to outside factors (our father mentioned above is one example of this) while some will be constantly looking for their next chance to do something. The vast majority of medium security are largely bluster unless they are pushed. They will talk a lot, but aren't very interested in stabbing anyone or getting stabbed unless they feel like they have to act. I will be outlining reasons for action later in this guide. Almost none of them want to harm a CO (Correctional Officer. The term guard is only used in locations that don't care about rehabilitation), even if they would severely enjoy it. The costs of harming the staff are way too high.

Maximum security is basically not worth focusing on thanks to RP. You spend the majority of your time in a cell alone (though in some cases with one other person), not interacting with anyone and only seeing someone when they do rounds to check on your or bring food. Most of the time you have almost no property (if you have it, it is in storage somewhere) and nothing to do with your time. In countries where they care if you die, suicide watches are pretty typical. Someone checks very frequently to make sure you aren't 'hanging it up'.

Length of stay

It is a funny thing that the worse your crimes were on the outside, the more likely you are to be a model prisoner on the inside. People generally assume the lifers who have nothing to lose will be the ones most likely to get violent, but the reverse is true. Short-term prisoners are often actually highly violent criminals who simply didn't get caught in an act of violence. They are there on drug charges, probation violations (may not apply here) or theft. By the system, they are minimal risk, so might get kept in dormitory housing or otherwise given a greater range of movement and rights. This leads to some large scale violence from time to time and they then get reclassified and have their sentence extended for the new crimes committed while in prison.

Medium length prisoners are a toss-up. Some will act calmly the entire stay, others will end up violent at some point. From between 5 years to 2 decades, most of these prisoners will eventually get involved in gangs within the prison if for no other reason than protection. Even so, this may or may not lead to violence.

Long term or life sentence prisoners are generally a little rough when they first arrive but quickly settle into the understanding that this is now their life and home. Knowing they are never getting out leads many of them to try acting in the best manner possible. It isn't that they care what you think of them though. Instead, it is recognizing that if they become known for good behavior among the CO's, life in prison becomes a whole lot easier. At the least, they get less focus on them and in the best situations, they get moved to a better housing situation to make room for more violent offenders in the cells. Often, they get the best jobs available in the prison.


If there is a court system, anyone with a stay of more than a year or two is probably trying to appeal. If a lawyer will take the case, it can go on and on for a very long time. Death row inmates actually cost the states more than life sentence inmates. The reason is that they are tying up so many resources in years or decades of appeal cases, that the cost of feeding and housing them for their natural lifespan is dwarfed by the court costs. This isn't likely to come up in a DayZ setting but is worth noting.



Gangs. Gangs everywhere. The exact blend of gangs will vary heavily from prison to prison, but there is safety in numbers and half of the people there started out as part of a gang anyway. If no gang were to exist, new ones will form. Lines are often racial though honestly anything that sets one group apart from another is enough to be a recruiting method. When it comes to violence, gangs aren't initiating it, but they are escalating it. When one of their members is involved, they end up getting involved. The exception is when they begin plotting a major strike against one another. Almost invariably, someone lets a CO know when it will happen so that it can be stopped before it happens. More on this under reputation.

Gang Signs

It is an unfortunate truth that the average CO has only a glancing knowledge of the vast sea of signs and markings. In DayZ, new gangs(groups) are forming and will invariably have their own signs. Over time and observation, they will be learned, but in reality there are going to be all sorts of gang signs flashed that the officers aren't recognizing the significance of. On Dayz, we are limited by the number of hand motions in the game, so I would highly suggest any group (criminal or otherwise) work out some basic hand motions that have meanings to them and emote those into the text option when appropriate.


Prison Tattoos

Again, DayZ limits this to things we can emote having on us, but it is worth noting. More than anywhere, prison is all about shitty tattoos. Anywhere else in the world someone who had a terrible tattoo would be angry as hell. In prison, your tattoo can look like it was done by an epileptic having a seizure and the bearer will wear it proudly and openly. Prison tattoo pens are made from all sorts of things though typically an old motor from some tiny device, a pen, and a needle are the key elements. There exist good tattoo artists in prisons, but even the best artist is limited by what they have on hand. Ink made in prison is poor quality, the tattoo guns are sub-par and often done quickly and in parts. Assuming you had the best tattoo gun in the prison with the best artist in the prison, you could get a tattoo that did indeed look good, but there's still the risk that it never gets finished. The more complex the piece, the longer it takes and that means at any time a CO could come along and interrupt. Potentially, you don't get another chance with the same artist again to finish it.


Notably, many tattoos in prison are meaningful. Teardrops near the eye, symbols representing an affiliation, etc. Some gangs have specific symbols they use frequently (playboy bunny, devil horns, etc) while other tattoos are more focused on the individual. They allow for quick identification of allies, but also reveal aspects of your life to CO's who happen to recognize them. Wise facilities keep a database (in this case probably physical files) of known affiliations.


Remember me mentioning that search at the start? Yeah, well despite the best efforts, things still get snuck in. My personal favorite is the entire gun someone snuck in through the initial processing. Think about that for a while and let it really sink in. Now, after you finish laughing, vomiting or both, recognize that some things are always going to make it inside. Period. Most of them will be small, but they will still exist.

If it isn't brought in by the inmate, it can be brought in by visitors. I highly doubt there will be visitation in this setting, so I will simply move on. Next are officers. They aren't all the 'dirty cop' sorts, though. Some of them are bringing in things or using items supplied by the facility and they disappear while the officer's back is turned. Sometimes they hand minor contraband to prisoners who have been behaving helpfully. It's a slippery slope that I will talk about further a little later.

For things that can't be brought in, the inmates can find a hundred ways to make them. If you thought they spent their endless hours playing drop the soap, you would be wrong. No, they are making things to make their lives easier. Contraptions to heat water in the cell, intricate shelving and storage carved from cardboard and glued together so that it forms something surprisingly solid, and of course, making weapons. There's an endless number of ways to make stabbing and slicing weapons.


Well Armed

The two obvious choices are the shank/shiv and the lock and sock. A shank or shiv is any sort of stabbing weapon really. Generally metal is preferred, but plastic, wood or other materials can and are used. For some reason, they never used pens and pencils in my experience. The lock and sock is any heavy and solid object inside of a sock (shocker right?). It doesn't have to be a lock though, since anything with weight and rigid sides will do massive damage quickly.

Less common weapons exist as well. Getting a bit of oil up to boiling and then throwing it at someone is a particularly nasty method for example. Others have been known to take the tiny blades out of disposable razors and melt them into toothbrush handles. Think of every possible weapon you could make and then realize you might have managed a whole one percent of the weapons actively possessed or being made right now (not even including all the ones confiscated). If an inmate wants a weapon, they will find something to make into a weapon. I'll come back to this topic when I speak on reputation.

Particularly unpleasant attacks involve bodily fluids. These can be rubbed onto weapons or thrown in cups. It isn't abnormal for a cup of urine, feces, and blood to be splashed out the window at an officer who has really upset a prisoner.

As an aside, not everyone with a weapon intends to harm anyone. Many prisoners have them as a means of self-defense. This is especially true when someone has been threatened, is part of a gang currently in active rivalry or is acting as a loner among the groups.


Every facility has a name for it, but basically, home-made alcohol. Prisons limit access to fruit, pick low or no-yeast breads and don't allow large containers in prisoner cells, but it still happens. Alcohol, having the effect it does on people, is a rather obvious problem in a prison. The smarter prisoners hide it outside of their cell somewhere, but most just find some way to brew it in plastic bags or such within their own cells. It exists as one of the only contraband that almost never appears from an outside source.

Hiding Contraband

So now they have all of these things they shouldn't have. And the officer, doing his duty, has to try to find these things before they can become a problem. Again, some of the methods the prisoners use to hide their goods are pure genius. Seemingly clear water bottles can hide all sorts of things. Jars of food or canned goods can do the same. Any nook or cranny becomes a perfect spot to stash something and of course then there are the things you keep on you.

With so many prisoners, patdowns tend to be random. Key individuals in high risk areas always get a basic search, but the rest are hit and miss. This leads to a pretty common tactic of distraction. The lead person brazenly passes the officer with obvious, but minor contraband. Maybe they took an orange with them after a meal. They are tossing it up and catching it to make sure attention is immediate. When the officer stops to confiscate it, their companion passes by with major contraband (weapons, a lot of fruit in various pockets, etc)


Even pat-downs are not enough in some cases. Shoes (side note: many prisoners who have been there a while will leave shoes untied for easily slipping on and off if an officer asks), hems and body folds can all hide lots of things. It's here that I feel the need to point out something in terms of roleplay.

You don't have to be endlessly serious. One of the funniest moments in my CO career after the fact was intensely tense at the time. An inmate was stopped for a patdown and was fully searched without anything being found. As he started to move, he adjusted his belt and something shifted. There was a metal clink as a shank hit the floor and rolled a few inches away from his shoe. The officer and he looked at one another for a moment and instead of running (common in the hope you can't be remembered/described) or attacking, he shrugged and put his hands up. The officer stepped on the metal spike and moved forward with cuffing the inmate.

It could have gotten very ugly due to it happening in a mass movement, but instead it ended up being something we can talk about with a smirk instead. Your roleplay can be the same. You don't always have to end up the hard-ass. Even the toughest inmate can be smart enough to consider the consequences and decide against an action. More importantly, how many of you would have thought to RP out having that happen? Not stabbing someone, but instead getting a spell of bad luck right before you wanted to stab someone. Inmate RP is intense RP. Don't forget to break the tension from time to time.


Ownership is limited in prison. There is precious little space and extremely large concerns about safety. The more things a prisoner has, the more likely it is that they can hide something without it being found. Because of this limitation, most prisoners are very possessive of the few items they own. Shoes, clothing, etc all become precious.

When you are given something, you feel indebted (at least if it comes from another prisoner). When something is taken, it burns at your soul. The ebb and flow of goods can also indicate issues. Someone whose possessions keep disappearing is likely either 'selling' them to others in return for favors of some sort (alcohol, drugs, sex, etc) or else having them stolen and being bullied. An inmate who keeps getting more things is probably strong-arming or running some sort of illicit business. Multiple inmates stockpiling food implies a fight is on the horizon.

Mass Movements

Every CO's worst nightmare is 'mass movement'. This may or may not be an issue on DayZ RP servers, but if it does happen, it is when many problems are most likely to occur. Attacks involving entire gangs can happen. Officers who have gained a particular hatred among inmates may be attacked as well. Lots of contraband moves when mass movement occurs and there are a number of other problems that can come up.

Room swapping often happens when mass movements occur, since officers are busy trying to get counts and are mostly focused on heads in a room. Tiers where officers are frequently working have less of this since they know the CO is more likely to recognize the switch. It is also a time when weapon crafting and other problems happen. With less officers on a tier (the rest have to be where the mass movement went), it is easier to sneak actions without getting caught.

Yard is one of the most common mass movements besides meals. Even maximum security prisons have found value to getting prisoners out in yard since it leads to less incidents in the cells if the inmates can get some movement out of their systems. Still, if you want to get at someone, having a lot of noise and motion around to distract the officers with is a huge boon. Dealing in drugs is easier there too, since groups just standing around one another and passing things is part of what yard involves.

Time to Spare

Time is the enemy of the officer here. While the inmates are there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the officer is there 8, or 16 at most. They spend all of their time thinking of ways to get around the rules and working on their strength/skills. Officers spend most of their time tending to things and when they go off duty, most of them are trying to put the work out of mind. It becomes a game to test officers. See where they might not remember the rules. Find out where they are inconsistent or where they will bend rules in your favor.


Us vs Them

Many officers have been down an ugly path for forgetting that almost every prisoner sees them as the enemy. The inmate doesn't have to hate you for this to be true. Hell, sometimes the prisoner genuinely likes you, but you are between the goal and themselves. When there is an attack on the tier, you can bet one of the prisoners is going to flush or toss a shank. It doesn't have to be theirs. If they know an inmate is going to get caught, they'll do what they can to prevent it as long as there is no risk to themselves. I've seen the person who got stabbed kick away a weapon that had been used against them!

As an inmate, realize that you are more than able to like an officer, to behave friendly towards them and to be helpful. The helpful part often involves quid pro quo, but still. It isn't always about hate. Sometimes it is just about us vs them.


This leads into loyalty.  Loyalty is huge in prisons. Almost none of the people there are at all trustworthy, but they will generally not go against the others unless they feel it gains them something worth the risks and that they won't likely be found out. Those who do feed info to the CO's may be doing it for any number of reasons. Some do it to save themselves from something (they got in trouble, but if the commander will let them off with a warning, they will tell who has the shank on the tier). Some do it as self preservation. Some do it to curry favor. A few even do it to pre-emptively strike an enemy. As much as loyalty matters to them, it isn't very common.

When loyalty does hold true, it is almost always among gangs who formed without a need for strong-arming new members in. Sure, the loyalty of some will be out of fear the others will kill them, but others are loyal out of a firm sense of 'family'.


Another thing that is huge in prison is your rep. Being known for ratting out others can get you killed. Less extreme, you lose a lot of face for anything that involves running to a CO. Many refuse to ask for protective custody, instead opting to find a way to get into trouble. If they get in enough trouble, they will get moved to lockup and are able to avoid the threatening inmate long enough for tempers to cool. Even telling a CO that you've been stabbed is seen as being lesser.


For RP, officers and inmates alike will do well to remember this. An inmate will be puffed up and talking big when others can see them. If the officer keeps them there, it can escalate. If the officer is smart and takes them aside where others can't see or hear, the inmate will very often deflate and spill information. They'll talk big about how they acted when they get back to the other inmates, but they are usually smart enough to realize there's no need to make things worse in direct confrontation. Unless you are playing a character who is prone to being shot in the face eventually, it might be wise to bluster only a little and then let the officer pull you aside for a more quiet conversation.


When attacks do happen, it is almost always with an officer nearby. This isn't because officers are always that good. Instead, it has to do with the above-mentioned reputation. Killing someone in prison gets you a lot more time. No inmate wants that. Still, they have to make a show of trying to get the other person and they do want to at least hurt them.

By having the officers nearby, they can make their attack and either disappear into the crowd before there can be retaliation or else make the attack and have it broken up. When they want to kill someone, it is usually done well away from sight. A cell is opened, but no one comes out, or they find someone in yard covered in blood.


Here's the thing that TV shows don't tell you: prison weapons are generally short. They often don't penetrate deep enough to kill unless someone is going for the jugular or throat. Most of the time it is jamming into muscle mass. It isn't uncommon for a prisoner to be stabbed dozens of times and still only suffer 'minor' injuries. While I worked in one facility, an inmate suffered 47 stab wounds to the shoulder, but was relatively unharmed since they almost all were blocked by the shoulder blades and muscles. He bled and did take time to recover, but he wasn't severely impacted other than an aching back for a few months as it healed.

Most fights are followed by a period of minimal movement known as lockdown. This can go for several days or even as much as a month depending on the number of people involved. Riots tend to result in several months of lockdown.


Lookouts are huge in prison. Groups will have their own lookouts, but even if they don't, there is always someone watching for officers. Most of the time some loud sound or word will happen whenever an officer moves close. This stands as a warning to hide any contraband you are working with at the time. It goes back to the us vs them mentality.

After a certain point, prisoners will begin to realize there is a pattern to the movement of officers. They begin to realize that they won't be seen for set periods of time and take advantage of it. Tons of note passing (and no matter how good the cells are, anything that isn't an air-tight seal seems to be a lost cause in that regard). It is a marvel of physics how some of these notes manage to get passed. Until you've seen a prisoner use a string pulled at just the right moment to send a note around a corner into a cell, you simply can't appreciate how much thought they've put into this.

Prison Gay

Remember that drop the soap comment earlier? Yeah, my experience is that it almost never happens. Baths are monitored. Prison sex happens when officers aren't around (unless the officer is involved, more on that later). Room swapping I mentioned before is sometimes when this happens. Forced sex does happen and is a huge epidemic, but since RP servers are basically anti-rape, this is off the table. That leaves willing participation. First off, don't RP this. Second, you might RP the other aspects of the relationships that happen.

There are two sorts of sexuality in prison with regards to the willing. There are those who were gay/transgender when they came to prison and just continue along that path. Then there are those who are what is called prison gay (at least that is the reference used in the facilities I had dealings with). With the former, there isn't much to say. The male to female transgenders were popular enough that they often had to be kept away from the general population of course.


As to the latter, that was an odd phenomenon among those who were spending multi-year or life sentences. A distinction was made between sex in prison and sex outside of prison. They would defend strongly the fact that they were not gay, they were prison gay. That was the code for saying that they saw themselves as entirely heterosexual and that they only had sex with men in prison because the option for women was basically zero for the majority of them. Again, this isn't something that is appropriate to RP out an act of doing, but the aspects of it beyond the bedroom could be influences on RP.

The typical relationship behavior (aside from aspects disallowed in the facility, often hand holding, kissing, touching too overtly) tends to manifest. They will spend more time with one another. They will often do things for one another without the typical expectation of being repaid in the future, etc. At least some portion of the strong relationships in prisons that seem like friendships are also prison gay situations.

Corrupting COs

This is a favorite game of almost every inmate. Everyone is trying to see what they can get by with or manage to get out of you. As I've said, they have lots of time to study and they are more than happy to pass along information to one another about who can be gotten how. It always starts small. Requests to use something for a moment, offers to do a favor for the officer, etc. Each time that they decide to push a little more, it is only a small step from the last.

Many people scoff at how in the world a prison officer can end up in a sexual relationship with an inmate. Almost everyone wonders how officers make it through the hiring process who are willing to bring drugs and tobacco in. It is only rarely a link to something prior to their joining the ranks. Instead, it is a frog in water. Turn up the heat slowly enough and they never realize that they are getting boiled alive.

The worst of these I ever heard of that wasn't threatening anyone's life was when an inmate (remember that they have no loyalty to officers) ratted out a Lieutenant to save himself from some minor charge. He provided PHOTOS!!! and set the Lieutenant up to be caught red-handed in an act of sex with him. It started with a no-strings offer from the inmate for a lot of money (delivered by the executor of his estate to the Lt. where it wouldn't be traced). It slowly moved to things where no one would ever be able to recognize him in a picture that he would give the inmate or other such things until it got that far.

After a certain point, the CO is already in to deep to turn back. Saying no to the inmate means they now have something on you that costs you your job and potential freedom. If you say yes, you may get caught anyway. The only other options are ones almost no officer is willing to do. They can turn themselves in and face the same consequences as saying no, or they can quit their high paying job and go work at flipping burgers. It is a slippery slope and there is almost never a way back out once you are in.


Probably a minor issue for an RP situation, but if you choose to play someone who has been there a long time (assuming it is even an option), then you are likely fairly mellow. Aging prisoners tend to be resigned to their fates and are mostly looking to finish out in as peaceful a manner as possible. They avoid conflicts and are more interested in working over a CO than facing off with one another. Most will try to cause as few waves as possible.

Meds and medical/observation

Again, TV colors our perceptions. Yes, the medical area is used when there is a fight, but most of the time it is for more mundane interactions. Got a cold? Have a sprained ankle? Don't feel like going to work and need a good excuse to be gone for the 4 hours it takes to finally get called in for the checkup? Medical is the place for you. All day, every day, inmates are claiming all sorts of injuries and symptoms to get out of tasks they don't like or just to get a chance at medical supplies. Some make a 'living' selling off pain meds for chronic issues they supposedly have. Medical is rarely exciting, but it is at least interactive.


Often times, there are people with mental illness or suicide risk being kept in a medical area. These people are watched by another good behavior inmate and then checked every 15 minutes or so by the staff. For those who choose to play mental illness or other forms of illness, realize these interactions are an option as well.

Rehabilitation and jobs

As I mentioned when speaking about yard, there are a number of tasks that get assigned to inmates for the sake of giving them something to focus on besides shank-crafting. It is also a key factor that they keep labor costs down since they work for pennies a day. Most cleaning tasks, gardening, cooking and the like are all handled by inmates.

Some places do this for the benefit of the prison, others do it to benefit a rehabilitation program. The benefits of rehabilitation are statistically obvious, but most officers have a hard time seeing the value when every movement offers more chances for dangerous interactions or gathering of contraband.

Faith vs False

If a facility allows gatherings based around religion, there are two basic people who attend. Those who genuinely believe they follow that faith (I say believe because they are often still more than happy to lie, cheat, steal and murder regardless of the religion... sort of like the average population aside from the murder now that I think about it), and those who are using that faith as a way to get things they want.


Many times, a huge number of a gang will hold membership in the same faith so they can use that meeting time as gang coordination meetings as well. Other times inmates may claim a faith to gain temporary advantages (sneaking to day meals and still eating the night meals during Ramadan). Faith may be found before or after entering prison, so it's on you to decide what faith if any you have and when you found it... and to what degree.

Punishment vs Loss of Freedom

US prisons are supposed to be about a loss of freedom, without a loss of other rights within reason. Other countries expressly intend prison as a form of punishment. Depending on your captors, the number of rights you are going to have will depend heavily on if they are considering your containment the punishment or simply the nature of what is required to obtain results within that punishment. If they see imprisonment as the punishment, it is likely to be violent and limited in interaction.


Ready for a funny quirk? Lifers rarely try to escape. Death row inmates may, and most others will if given an opportunity. Escape is almost never violent. Riots and violence get you stuck inside the facility. Instead, it is often a cunning plan involving a change of clothing, an exploitable pattern, or a random unexpected opening they can't resist. It's odd, but the ones most likely to try escaping in my experience are the ones whose release date is near. They seem to get antsy to leave and at least some of them aren't smart enough to wait for that last year or two.



So your day finally comes and they let you go. Too bad it's been three decades and you only have a few hundred dollars to your name earned from the job you held while in prison. Most of the time you are given the contents of your cell, whatever you had when you came in and are pushed out into the world. Ex-cons aren't known for having an easy time finding work even if they were trained at a skilled trade while in prison. Minimum wage is the best many can hope for and so end up back in crime. If they were innocent to start, then they may begin real crime after a lengthy stay in prison. In a DayZ setting, the skills picked up in prison are likely to lead the inmates to a life of banditry after they are released. After all, there is a lot of work in farming and it takes longer than you can survive without food to see a crop (yes, I know the system is quicker, RP damn you!)

Note: As I said at the beginning, I was a little rushed on this. Still, it should offer some valuable insights. It doesn't have quite as much wit as my typical guides do, but it is hard to be witty at that speed of authorship. If you notice any odd errors, unclear wordings or other problems, please include the phrase around it and what section it was in so that I can better find and correct it.

(Edited to update link broken in website port.)

Edited by leviathanapsu
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  • Sapphire

Very nice guide. People would do well to incorporate some of this into their RP when possible. The idea of having groups in Dayz actually signal is... interesting. I'm going to have to put some thought into this.

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  • Emerald

oh my

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  • Sapphire

oh my

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  • Emerald

Okay, well aside from "Oh ", is there anyone who found points within it that were less clear or that they had questions about? In something this large, it isn't beyond reason to believe I might have missed something or lost information due to the quick editing.

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