Can You Explore Your Hobbies in Prison?

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In the United States, most correctional facilities acknowledge that inmates need hobbies, knowing that the inmates are prone to finding something illegal to do while in prison. Inmates will come up with different activities to occupy themselves with while serving time. Some might look for a group they want to belong in to engage in their favorite hobbies.

However, exploring these hobbies depends on the inmates’ education level, mental state, and what is available in prison. Boredom is one of the significant reasons why inmates should engage in hobbies. If you sit around with little to do, you will torture yourself with guilt over your previous misdeeds.

Once you are behind bars, it is pretty challenging to figure out ways to kill time. However, the prison bureau ensures there are different types of activities that inmates could participate in during their free time. Some of them include woodworking, painting, photography, music production, video games, doing artwork, working out, watching TV, playing cards, listening to music, and reading.

What Art Supplies Can You Buy in Prison?

Most of the correctional facilities have art supplies available at the commissary for sale. However, observe different protocols in regards to inmates placing orders through a catalog during purchase. That primarily depends on the inmates’ custody level, what they can, or cannot do during their stay at prison.

Many offenders can draw art pieces in prison, considering what tools are available for purchase at the commissary. Several prisons might impose restrictions on whether the inmate might be allowed to enter with the tools into their cells or not. Inmates that the prison authorities consider free of contact violation can purchase and keep the artwork tools in their cells.

Besides individual art and craftwork, federal prisons offer art programs that enable inmates to share and improve their learning skills. Some of the HobbyCraft programs include:

  • Drawing
  • Ceramic pottery
  • Painting projects
  • Plastic canvas
  • Clay art
  • Mosaics
  • Origami
  • Leatherwork models
  • Sculptures
  • Woodworking

The prison provides inmates with plenty of time to work on their art. Their art is based on everything that revolves around their lives. Here are some of the art tools inmates may have access to at their commissaries:

  • Sketch pad or books
  • Colored pencils
  • Notebook papers
  • Paints, ink, or watercolor
  • Crayon
  • Oils
  • Charcoal
  • Brushes

The tools are inexpensive for all inmates to afford. The inmates have to decide whether to keep the final artwork or make extra cash by selling them. You can have someone you trust, like your family member or friend, to sell the art at craft fairs. Most of them sell their artwork and use the money to restore the fines, restitution, parole, or probation fees they owe.

Artwork can be a powerful tool for inmates to express their feelings, emotions, and prison atmosphere. It can also be used as a form of rehabilitation for some inmates.

Can You Work Out in Prison Every Day?

Working out helps inmates who are dedicated entirely to health and fitness. The prison environment is violent, fights and bullying occurs. The smaller you are, the more vulnerable you are to violence. Inmates with large body sizes often project fear. Your survival at the prison is accompanied by lifting weights, strength-training exercises, and powerlifting.

Suppose there are no weights, machines, or other workout equipment inside the building. You might think of purchasing your weight training equipment from outside vendors. Inmates use benches to work out as well. They make pushups, sit-ups, leg lifts, squats, lunges, planks, crunches, pullovers, dips, chin-ups, rope climbs, and more.

You can enjoy workouts offered by the prison several hours a day. There are workout training programs that can break the gym-monotony routines. Like other inmates, you can get fit despite not having full fitness gyms in prison. You should also fill up bottles with water or use a bucket of wet towels for curls.

Some of the correctional facilities have weight lifting equipment for prison workouts, including:

  • Dumbbells
  • Cardio equipment
  • Free weights
  • Chin up bars
  • Resistance bands
  • Barbell
  • Bench

Work out activities like weight lifting in correctional facilities help reduce inmates’ aggression levels. The prison staff has recognized that idle inmates pose a significant threat to order in prison unless participating in hobby-like workouts every day during their stay behind bars.

Can You Watch TV in Prison?

Watching TV is considered a privilege in most correctional facilities in the United States. However, the correctional facility will regulate what you watch and how long you are going to. The prison staff will revoke this privilege if the inmate poses a threat to themselves or others.

The problem with watching TV in prison is that it’s a shared activity. If an inmate wants to switch to another show, they have to convince others or wait until it ends. For those inmates that want a TV in their cells, it comes at a price. In most cases, you don’t just have a TV set waiting for you. Your character and behavior are what will determine if you will get one.

A prison cell houses at least one inmate. It could work best for both of you to share the same interests. Some inmates housed in maximum-security prisons are provided with TV sets to keep them engaged and reduce boredom, as most are locked down most of the time. In some cases, inmates do not purchase the TV but rather it’s provided by the prison staff.

Inmates can purchase the TV using money sent in their commissary by their family or friends. The staff usually inspects the TV for any contraband. Inmates in both minimum and maximum security prisons can own television sets, but protocols vary from one facility to another.

Televisions distract inmates from causing trouble as they pass the time following their shows. It acts as a bridge between the inside and the outside world. Through watching the shows, inmates can realize that their hobbies and interests did not end at the prison gate.

Can You Listen to Music in Prison?

When you are incarcerated, you might think of not hearing music from your favorite artist. Some prisons might limit you from accessing music. You can purchase portable CD players, headphones, and tablets from an approved vendor or the kiosk available at the prison. At some point, prison might allow family or friends to order MP3 players for you from approved vendors.

For the past years, inmates have been accessing music the old-fashioned way through portable CDs and CD players. Currently, some correctional facilities have issued inmates with tablets. However, it comes at the prison commissary at a price. iPods are not allowed in correctional facilities.

For music models, the prison might give them privileges to record audio or video music. Recording studios or rooms are reserved for the artists to record and perform their music during hobby and recreation hours. The inmate artists should schedule sessions ahead of time so that the correctional facility staff can approve.

Music helps the incarcerated play a significant role in expressing the prison atmosphere, emotions, and remorse of what they did before. Inmates can conquer and deal with issues concerning boredom, idleness, and stress. Through these, there is liberation amongst inmates, and they can relieve the isolation felt in prison.

Can You Play Video Games in Prison?

Inmates playing video games while incarcerated is a fascinating and controversial subject some correctional facilities might provide. You might need to know what kind of game it is because you don’t want to get into trouble for playing video games the prison has revoked.

Certain things don’t work when playing games in prison because they have been designed specifically for home use. Another problem arises from the fact that most prisons do not allow inmates access to computers. Even if your prison allows inmates to access computers, you won’t play online multiplayer games. This means that if you want to play any games online or download anything you need to be connected to the internet. Having access to the internet is important but when you live in such an isolated place is limited and sometimes not a guarantee.

Can You Read in Prison as a Hobby?

The first step is determining what materials are available for inmates to read. There are many ways that inmates have found to get their hands on these reading materials. Some use contraband cell phones or other devices to download ebooks from Amazon Kindle. Some inmates like to share some tips with others who may want to do the same thing.

While correctional facilities might differ in several aspects, they all may have access to reading materials, one of the few things they all may have in common. Inmates don’t need to read in prison, although the authorities inspire them to do so. So what does everyone think? Is there any evidence that people who don’t read have more trouble turning their lives around than those who do? Or is it simply anecdotal?

Almost all the correctional facilities in the United States allow inmates to receive magazines, newspapers, and books of their choice from outside. The books should come from a vendor-approved publisher, for instance,

Most of the books available at the prisons libraries focus on general education development (GED), vocational training, religion, philosophy, psychology, history, politics, economics, and classical literature. However, these facilities also have books that are meant for recreation, science fiction, and fantasy. If you like dystopian novels, then it might be worth checking out:

  • Brave New World
  • Harry Potter books
  • Stephen King novels
  • Janet Evanovich book series
  • Gillian Flynn novels

You should try to read all of them before deciding which ones you want to keep with you when you go into prison. If you’re looking for more serious stuff, I’d recommend anything written by George Orwell or Aldous Huxley. Both were imprisoned during their lifetimes, and both wrote some fascinating works while inside.


Prison authorities should understand what types of activities inmates enjoy doing to assist them in finding ways to continue these interests after release from incarceration. These hobbies also serve an essential role in helping ex-prisoners reintegrate into their communities upon release from custody.

The United States Supreme Court ruled that when prison protocols impinge on inmates’ constitutional rights, the regulation is valid if reasonably related to legitimate penological interest. The decision was based on the government’s primary purpose when operating a penal facility is to rehabilitate inmates rather than punish them. Thus, any restrictions placed on inmate activities must be reasonable and not arbitrary.

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