5 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays in Prison

By Brett Snider, Esq. on December 23, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

With Christmas and New Year's fast approaching, the millions of Americans currently incarcerated in state or federal prisons will likely be finding ways to celebrate the holidays behind bars.

As an early Christmas present, here are five legal ways to celebrate the holidays in prison:

1. Enjoy Festive Meals.

By almost all accounts, the food in prison is pretty abominable. In fact, some prisoners have been known to convert to Judaism in order to receive Kosher meals, which are often of a higher quality.

But around the holidays, inmates can typically look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas meals which are "noticeably better" than the normal prison repast, reports Forbes.

2. Listen to Holiday Music.

Even the notorious civil rights violator Joe Arpaio allowed his inmates to listen to Christmas music during the holidays -- although this was the source of several federal lawsuits.

Odds are that inmates will hear Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" at least 53,000 times.

3. Visit (or Be Visited by) Family Members.

Unless a criminal sentence is specially designed to keep a convict away from her family on Christmas, an inmate can look forward to possible visits from family and friends.

In California, prisoners may also be eligible for spending Xmas Eve or New Years Eve overnight with a spouse.

4. Observe Religious and Cultural Holidays.

Prisoners have the right to celebrate their varied religions and cultures while incarcerated, and that includes Christmas, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, and yes, perhaps even Festivus.

According to Forbes, federal prisoners may even receive a small goodie bag on Christmas filled with "candies, cookies, and a small carton of Egg Nog."

5. Start on Your Criminal Appeal.

An inmate can give him or herself an early present this holiday season by starting to work on an appeal for his or her case. Whether the evidence wasn't enough to convict or the trial court made a serious error, there are a number of reasons to argue on appeal for an overturned conviction or a new trial.

Although many lawyers may be on vacation during the holidays, an experienced criminal defense attorney can get an inmate closer to spending the next holiday season outside of prison.

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