One of the hardest parts of a federal prison sentence is preparing your family for your surrender. There is no “playbook” for this incredibly emotional situation, but it is one of the most important steps in ensuring a smooth transition for you and your loved ones.

If you are wondering where or how to start preparing your family, the sooner you start, the easier it will ultimately be. And if you are wondering where to start, please do not hesitate to reach out, and we will be happy to discuss your plan and see how we can help.

Thorough and comprehensive planning will not only help your family’s lives remain stable in your absence but give you the peace of mind of knowing your loved ones are taken care of while you are not physically there.

It is also important to be open and honest with your family. Listen to their concerns, and emotions, and express yours as well.

Below is a list of a few basic steps to help you and your family prepare for this challenging situation:

Ø  Support System:

  • Identify and strengthen your family’s support system. Encourage your loved ones to reach out to friends, family, or support groups for emotional support during your absence.

Ø  Legal and Financial Affairs:

  • Review your legal and financial affairs with your family and consider seeking legal counsel if needed. Make sure important documents, such as wills, powers of attorney, and healthcare proxies, are in place.
  • Create a financial plan to ensure that your family’s basic needs, such as housing, food, and bills, are covered during your absence.

Ø  Child Custody and Care Plans:

  • If you have children, work out custody and care arrangements with your spouse or other caregivers. Ensure that there is a stable environment and support system in place for them.

Ø  Maintain Family Connections:

  • Emphasize that you will be able to stay connected while you are incarcerated. Encourage regular visits, phone calls, and written communication, as well as sending letters, photos, and updates about your life inside.

Ø  Prepare for Special Occasions:

  • Plan ahead for birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions. You can create cards, letters, or small gifts in advance to be sent during these times.

Ø  Education and Information:

  • Educate your family about the prison system, visitation procedures, and rules and regulations they should be aware of when interacting with correctional facilities.

Ø  Emergency Contacts:

  • Provide your family with a list of emergency contacts, including the prison’s chaplain or counselor, in case they need assistance while you are incarcerated.
  • If you are working with a Prison Consultant, make sure to stay in touch with them, as they can help reach contacts at the prison.

It is very important that you stay positive and remind yourself and your family that your absence is temporary and that you are committed to returning home as soon as possible.

Remember, preparing to surrender to federal prison is an ongoing process for you as well as your loved ones. And, while nothing will make it ‘easy,’ taking the time to prepare, either on your own or with a Prison Consultant, is absolutely essential in making your absence less stressful for your family, and ultimately, yourself.

If you would like to talk about how to best prepare, please do not hesitate to reach out to us, and we will happily discuss the best steps to take.

Sam Mangel


Member: American Bar Association