Often enough, when a man or woman is awaiting their trial or plea deal, they have to spend their time in the county jail because they can’t afford the bail amount set by the court. While bail is supposed to be set in an amount that would prevent you from absconding from the area or simply not showing up for court, too often judges set bail amounts that would keep a millionaire from running. While my issues with the bail system are best left for another blog, let’s talk about how you handle yourself while in jail.


  1. You are going to be bored. Very bored. They isn’t a whole heck of a lot going on, so you have to find constructive things to do to keep you busy. The main point is to keep yourself occupied… not entertained!
  1. If you have the money on your phone account, by all means talk to your family and friends on the outside. DO NOT DISCUSS YOUR CASE OR ITS FACTS!!!! I don’t know how many jailed clients have said this to me… “it’s fine, nobody’s going to listen to my calls.” WRONG. They can listen to your calls and they will listen to your calls. When I was a prosecutor, I listened to the calls, especially when I believed that someone’s case was heading for trial. There is no easier way for a prosecutor to shut down a defense than when they have a recording of the defendant talking to his girlfriend/boyfriend and admitting to everything they are alleged to have done, and more. So to repeat, when you are talking on the phone, imagine that the Assistant District Attorney is sitting next to you.
  1. If you are planning to be in for a while, exercise, exercise, exercise. Make your skin feel lighter. This does not mean that you have to make friends with other inmates. In fact, as you’ll see from this blog, making friends should not be in your top ten priorities. You can exercise alone in your cell and you can exercise alone when they let you outside by running laps (in most jails.) If you like playing basketball, you can play basketball, but only if you are good at keeping your cool. The last thing you want to do is make enemies while inside because you keep bitching about hand checks. Most importantly, exercise will reduce your stress levels which are going to be high when you are in jail.
  1. DO. NOT. GAMBLE. When you are inside, it seems like there are a thousand things you can gamble on… cards, games, whatever. What you have to gamble is your commissary account. The experienced guys in jail will hustle you until your commissary is empty and you’re calling your favorite aunt to put money into Joe Blow’s phone account so you don’t have another enemy to deal with in jail. The prosecutor should be your only problem, not the guy you lost to at “Go Fish.”
  1. DON’T think you are smart enough to have a friend or relative smuggle you contraband. Whether it’s a cell phone or Suboxone, if you are caught, you may as well just add another year onto your sentence and another $3000 to your attorney. Regardless of your opinion on attorneys, we don’t always want more money. Most of us, including the Kokosa Law Firm, want you to get the best outcome possible. Possession of contraband in jail does not get you that. Plus, we can’t even represent your friend or relative who’s trying to get you the stuff because that would be a conflict of interests. There goes the friends and family discount you were hoping for!
  1. READ. If you aren’t a great reader, here’s where you can work on that. If you are a good reader, this will eat up hours on top of hours of the dead time that you spend sitting and waiting. The jails should have plenty of books. If there is something in particular you want or a certain genre, most jails have a booklet with overpriced books you can buy.
  1. DON’T WATCH TV ALL DAY. There are some guys and girls who will just turn into TV blobs that watch anything that comes on the television. If you want to watch something you are interested in and the TV is tuned to that channel, by all means watch it. But if you are 3 hours into a Food TV marathon, walk back to your cell or an open corner and do some push-ups or run in place.
  1. TAKE A PROGRAM THAT’S OFFERED BY THE JAIL (OR GET A JAIL JOB IF IT’S AVAILABLE. You have time, you have energy, and you have an active mind. May as well take a class if it’s offered. If you have issues with drugs or alcohol, take a program that will help you stay sober when you get out. Remember, you have time to kill, so you may as well make yourself a better person when you get out.
  1. WRITE. Write about anything (except your criminal case). This will melt hours out of your day. Haven’t spoken to your great aunt Bertha in a while, write her a letter. Got in a fight with your Dad six years ago and haven’t talked to him since? Tell him you’re sorry and he was right. Spoiler alert… he probably was right. There aren’t a lot of psych services in jail, so writing about your emotions, even if you don’t plan on ever sending it out or just plan on ripping it up helps take pressure off your mind. My only warnings are don’t write about what you are accused of doing and do not write a letter to any person who has an order of protection against you. Things may seem bad right now, but adding a Criminal Contempt charge is not going to make them better. Heck, if the Kokosa Law Firm is your retained attorney, write me (Marc Kokosa) a letter. You can find me at the Kokosa Law Firm, 40 British American Blvd., Latham, New York 12110. You can call me at (518) 907-4694.
  1. LEARN to do something you don’t know how to do. Learn to play chess. Take a GED class. Learn something. Remember when you were a kid and you learned how to play a sport? All those hours you spent practicing and learning how to do something ate up thousands of hours of your life and it felt like time flew by. The same premise works in jail.
  1. BE RESPECTFUL. Be respectful to the guards. Be respectful to your bunkmate. Be respectful to the inmate serving your dinner. I’m not saying that you have to cow tow to another inmate, but treat others as you would like to be treated. 90% of the population in jail would rather be somewhere else, preferably sipping a margarita on a beach. That goes for the COs as well. The less problems you create for yourself in jail, the less stress you will have. This will allow you to actually do everything I stated in #1 through 9 without fear and anxiety.


There you have it. Eleven things you can do in jail to keep yourself occupied and your mental faculties at their prime. Nobody volunteers to go to jail, but sometimes it’s in the cards so you may as well make the most of it. And remember, if you need an attorney, you can always call the Kokosa Law Firm at (518) 907-4694 if you need representation on any crime, whether it’s Assault, DWI, Drug Possession or Sales, or even Sex Crimes. Like I’ve said in previous blogs, we don’t judge anyone just because they sin differently than we do.