This advice about surviving prison is surprisingly relevant to real life

In two startling new videos directed by a former prisoner, inmates from two New York facilities reveal the advice they would give to newly incarcerated people.

Funded by a federal grant, the videos will be shown at prisons throughout New York state. In some parts of the videos, which were posted on the Marshall Project’s website, inmates advised new arrivals how to avoid horrific situations such as prison rape.

Some of the advice, however, could apply to situations outside of prison. Here’s some of what they said:

“Initially, trust no one. Because I believe that trust is something that’s earned.”

“Drugs may play a role in encouraging people to make poor choices.”

“You have to be careful who you befriend, and who you let in. Even something as simple, and as small as, opening the door, you don’t know what door that can actually open or what that person’s intentions are.”

“Those guys that try to tell people, newer guys, ‘this is how we do things’ are usually trying to get them to do things the way they want things done, rather than really try to help the people.”

“It’s alright to be yourself and to not feel as though you have to portray a certain image. The more comfortable you are being who you are, the less likely someone else is going to be able to manipulate or turn who you are into something you don’t want to be.”

“Don’t try to be something or somebody you’re not.”

“Take your time, fall back, observe what’s going on around you, all the time. I remain cautious at all times because I can control me, but I can’t control you.”

“You have to trust your gut instincts.”

“If you try and pretend that you’re a tough guy and nothing affects you, they can tell if you’re being phony.”

“Just be true to yourself and don’t let the environment dictate who you’re gonna become.”

“Hang out with the old timers for a while and observe.”

“You’re going to be around these people for some time, and before you engage or you attempt to befriend, observe them and see who they are. You gotta see them with their friends. How they treat other people is who they really are. We do have some good people in here, even though we have bad people as well.”

“Do not gamble. And do not use drugs. People in here are sharks. And the ones that don’t know how to gamble are guppies. You think you know how to gamble but you don’t know you’re being set up. And once you get in debt, then you have to pay it off, one way or another.”

“Self-preservation comes first. And your safety is paramount. It’s not snitching when you’re trying to protect yourself. So go to someone, go tell someone. You don’t have to name any names. You don’t have to point at anyone. Just say that I feel that my life is in danger and you feel that you need to be removed from the situation.”

“If my life is being threatened, and there’s no other way around it but to let someone know that my life is threatened. OK, well that’s what has to be done because I’d like to continue living.”

“It’s better to be safe, than to live with any experience that will last a lifetime.”

“Figure people out before you become their friend.”

“And if you see certain individuals that are trying to warm up to you, watch how they treat other people. Because nine times out of 10, what they do to others, they will do to you.”

“If you feel something in the pit of your stomach or a voice in the back of your head is saying, this doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right. You need to remove yourself from that situation.”

“Depend on yourself. Count on yourself. Don’t trust anyone. And don’t take free handouts.”

“It’s ok to be afraid. It’s ok to be confused. It’s ok to be overwhelmed.”

“You have to set boundaries.”

“There are some good people. And then there are people that will play on your weakness.”

“There are relationships worth developing in here, people that are going to help you on your path. You just have to find them.”

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