If you're headed to prison, you're going to want to get out as soon as possible. Jail is not a friendly place; it's lonely and often frightening. Jails in most states are overcrowded, so most states reward time served for good behaviour, finding a job within the jail or participating in various programmes. You can also get released from jail early if you are granted parole, which may be the case if you are serving a several-year prison term.
Stay on your best behaviour. Do what the correctional officers ask you to do, don't pick fights with other inmates and don't violate any rules, such as sneaking contraband into your cell. Many prisons have a good behaviour system, where you get credit for time served for every so many days you don't violate prison rules. For example, you may get five days time served for every seven days you don't violate a rule.
Enrol in any programmes that will credit you for time served. In addition to rewarding time served for good behaviour, many prisons also reward time served if you participate in community service programmes or rehabilitation programmes, such as Alcoholics Anonymous if you have a problem with alcohol. For example, the prison may credit you with 10 days time served if you participate in a community service programme that picks up trash on the side of the highway. Some inmates, such as violent offenders, are unable to participate in certain programmes.
Apply for a prison job. All prisons have jobs that inmates can apply for. Certain jobs may be unavailable for some inmates; for example, non-violent offenders will typically be allowed to work in the kitchen with knives and other sharp tools, but violent offenders are generally prohibited from such jobs. Getting a job in prison is sometimes combined with good behaviour rewards and can shorten your time in prison. A job will also make you look more professional to the parole board if you are eligible for parole.
Highlight everything positive you accomplished in prison when you stand before the parole board. The parole board places major emphasis on what you have done during your time in jail. They need to know that you can re-enter society and become a productive member who won't cause harm to other people. Although they have your jail time information in front of them, reiterate that you found a job in the jail, you never violated jail rules and you participated in various programs that were offered. If the board sees that you have taken the initiative to become a better person, they are more likely to grant you parole.