Is “The Lady’s Side” to the Left or Right of her Male Escort?

Until the end of the 1940s, it was considered improper for a man to walk beside a lady whom he was escorting. His proper place when strolling in daylight was a comfortable two paces behind, the rationale being that he would be in a better position to “protect” her from that vantage point—the way a bodyguard is called a “guardaspalle” in the Italian language (which translates as “back guard”) or consistent with the phrase, “I have your back” in English. William O. Stevens, in his new and revised edition of The Correct Thing—A Guide Book of Etiquette for Young Men (1935), writes in his chapter, “Public Places”: “A lady always precedes a gentleman on the street….” Only at night, in inclement weather, when assisting the elderly or the infirm, when in a wedding procession or recession, or when crossing a busy intersection, for example, was a man allowed to offer his arm to a lady in public places. But etiquette evolves—thank God! And today, it is considered quite apropos for a couple in-love to stroll arm in arm, hand in hand, or to walk abreast down Paris’ Champs Elysees in broad daylight. Even today, however, public display of sexually suggestive affection is considered in poor taste. And what has not changed over the years is this: In Europe, when a gentleman invites a lady to take his arm or to walk with him, she must take his right arm or walk along his right side—even if doing so places her on the curbside. In America, on the other hand, the gentleman should walk on the curbside, whether that places his lady escort on his right side or on his left. It is advised in America, however, that a lady only be offered a gentleman’s right arm, though she is free to walk beside him on his left side.

In some very conservative communities, men precede women in a funeral cortege: The order of the procession en route to the cemetery is the hearse, followed by men, followed by women and children. Though that tradition is rarely observed today, it should be observed in places where it is still the custom.

Weddings are partly to blame for the ambiguity as to which “side” men and women should occupy when walking, posing for photographs, greeting guests, etc. In a traditional Western wedding, the bride’s “side” of the church is the left side, while the groom’s “side” is the right. (In the case of a traditional Jewish wedding, the “sides” are reversed). Correspondingly, the bride’s family and friends sit on the left side of the church, and the groom’s family and friends sit on the right. Also, while before the altar during the wedding ceremony, the bride occupies the seat and uses the prayer kneeler on the left, while the groom is positioned on the right. That left-right configuration, however, has the effect of the bride being situated on her groom’s left side throughout the ceremony, when conventional practice is for women to accompany a man on his right side. People have long attributed the left placement of the bride in the traditional wedding ceremony to the Biblical account of God removing Adam’s rib in order to make Eve; and romantically assuming that the removed rib was from Adam’s left side since the human heart is anatomically situated more towards the left half of the body (which also serves as the rationale for wearing wedding rings on the left hand), the justification resonated with many people. The fact, however, is that the Bible is silent as to the side from which Adam’s rib was removed. (See Genesis 2: 21). Similarly, the more chivalrous types claim medieval custom: They claim that placing the bride on the groom’s left kept his sword-hand—his right hand—free so that he could better protect her in the event some bandit attempted to abduct her at the altar. (Tough luck for left-handed swordsmen!) The fact, however, is that medieval-era weddings looked very much unlike what is today regarded as a traditional wedding ceremony. While marriage became a Catholic sacrament in the 13th century, until 1545, most marriages in much of Europe were by mutual consent and private declaration, not in a church. And as such, no priest or witnesses—and certainly not bride-robbing bandits—were required to effectuate (or disrupt!) the union.

Ironically, it seems as if the left-right placement is neither for the benefit of the bride nor the groom, but instead a logistical convenience for the father-of-the-bride! During the procession, the father of the bride walks up the nave with the bride on his right arm, as is to be expected. And after situating his daughter in front of the church-kneeler on the left (“her side” of the church), she is joined before the altar by her groom, who, during the procession, is awaiting her just right of the pair of church-kneelers—more towards “his side” of the church. The bride’s father then simply steps aside towards the left, taking his seat next to the bride’s mother, who is seated in the first pew of the left side of the church. And in so doing, there is no need for the father-of-the-bride to have to walk around or hop over the train of the bride’s gown—some of which can be cathedral-length—in order to access his seat. (And with that being the real reason, there is little wonder people have concocted myths that are shorter, easier to explain, and more romantic!) But the even more compelling and important reason for the left-right placement is the fact that at the conclusion of the wedding ceremony, when the bride and groom face those in attendance for the recession, the bride is then conveniently and rightfully situated on the right side of her new husband as they make their triumphant promenade down the aisle as man and wife.

Passport Etiquette: Don’t Leave Home Without It!

The Passport in Foreign Countries—don’t leave home without it

When traveling abroad, a gentleman should always carry his passport in a secure place on his person. Unlike “man-purses” and “belt-bags,” which are oftentimes forgotten, misplaced, and are prime targets for street-thieves, the inside chest pocket (with a button closure) of a sport coat is a perfect, generally pick-pocket-proof place to secure important documents and extra cash. (And as a bonus, in many countries, a gentleman wearing a sport coat is oftentimes afforded certain courtesies that may not otherwise be extended). Enclosing the passport in a zip-lock plastic bag protects the passport from perspiration and the elements.

Some countries have laws that permit police officers or military personnel to randomly, without suspicion of wrongdoing, or for any or no reason, demand the presentation of personal identification documents. Citizens and residents of such jurisdictions are expected to have their standard government-issued identification with them whenever in public. Visitors and tourists are expected to present their passports. When traveling abroad, it is not uncommon for documents to be requested of train or bus passengers, of shoppers on pedestrian streets, or at the entrance to banks or government buildings. In some jurisdictions, failure to present proper documentation could result in arrest, incarceration, and/or fees.

Special Passport Rules:

-A passport is the property of the issuing country, not of the bearer of the passport. United States passports read: U.S. GOVERNMENT PROPERTY This passport is the property of the United States (Title 22, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 51.9). It must be surrendered upon demand made by an authorized representative of the United States Government.

-Some countries have a passport validity rule that requires that passports of persons visiting the country be valid for a certain amount of time, usually six months or three months, after the date of entry.

-Damage can render a passport invalid. Water damage; significant damage to the cover of the passport; damage to the photo/page with personal data; missing or torn-out visa pages; and unofficial markings can all invalidate a passport.

-Generally, passport photos must be taken within six months of the issuance of the passport. Significant changes to one’s appearance (dramatic weight-gain/-loss; addition/removal of facial tattoos, significant facial surgery or trauma, etc., may all render a passport invalid).

-Most countries prohibit the taking of passport photos while wearing uniforms or clothing that resembles uniforms.

-Some countries require that passports of incoming visitors have at least three blank pages for immigration and visa stamps. (Most countries require at least one blank page). A gentleman traveling to several countries on one trip, then, may want to renew his passport even though it has not expired, or obtain additional pages for his passport. (For security reasons, several countries have suspended the practice of adding pages to existing passports, requiring instead that new passports be obtained).

-Some countries will accept a valid visa contained in an expired passport if presented in conjunction with a valid passport. Other countries require that a new visa be obtained for the valid passport.

The Correct Way To Do Fondue


Derived from the French verb “fondre,” meaning “to melt,” fondue is a Swiss dish where cheese is melted in a communal pot and then eaten by dipping bread, speared onto long-stemmed forks, into the hot cheese. Typically placed onto a round table to afford equal access to those dining, the pot of melted cheese is usually kept hot by electric heat or some type of chafing fuel (“canned heat”).

Each person at the table is provided with a long-stemmed fork and a plate filled with bite-sized cubes of some sturdy bread. The fork is used to spear a cube of bread, which is then dipped into the melted cheese. Once coated with cheese, the bread is held over the pot to allow any excess cheese to drip into the pot. Traditionally, without touching one’s tongue or lips to the fork, one’s front teeth are used to delicately remove the bread from the fork since that same fork—and those of all the other diners—will be used to dip other cubes of bread into the communal pot of cheese. Unless, perhaps, between lovers or amongst close family members, that tradition should be reexamined. The preferred method is provide each guest with an extra plate onto which the cheese-covered bread is placed before being eaten. With this method, the fondue fork, still holding the cheese-covered bread, is held in the left hand and placed onto the extra plate as a dinner fork, held in the right hand, is used to remove the bread from the fondue fork. The cheese-covered bread is then conveyed to the mouth with the dinner fork, and the spearing fork is used to dip another cube of bread into the communal pot.

The fondue concept is not limited to just cheese. Also popular is fondue bourguignonne, where cubes of meat are dipped into hot oil to be cooked tabletop. Fruits, especially strawberries, are also dipped into chocolate fondue. But regardless of the type of fondue, the proper thing to do is to avoid placing utensils form which one has eaten back into the communal pot.

The Correct Way to Eat the Salad Course

The Salad Course

Though many restaurants, especially in the United States, present the fresh salad as one of the first dishes, the traditional, Western-influenced, multi-course menu places the salad course after the meat course but before the dessert course.

When fresh, leafy salads are served, it is best not to cut the leaves with one’s salad knife, but instead to use the fork, held in the left hand, assisted by the salad knife, held in the right hand, to fold the leaves into manageable “bundles” before conveying them, speared by the fork, to the mouth. Of course other components of the salad, such as tomato wedges, hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, or podded peas, may be cut with the knife into manageable sizes.

The Proper Way to Taste Food from Another Person’s Dish at a Formal Dining Table

Tasting Another Person’s Food at the Table

At a formal, private dinner, or even a formal, public one, rarely will the occasion arise for one person to taste another person’s food at the table since the same menu is generally served to all. Besides, the notion of “tasting” from another person’s plate in a formal setting simply would not “sit” right with most people—the way one would not drink beer directly from a bottle at a black-tie event. Yes, beer may arguably “taste” better when drunk directly from the bottle, but it certainly would indicate a lack of good “taste” if drunk accordingly in a formal setting. In less formal settings, however, as in restaurants for example, where close friends or couples are dining together and different menu offerings have been selected, the occasion often arises for someone to request or be offered to taste another person’s food. The rules of etiquette do not prohibit such generosity under the circumstances; but there is a right way and there is a wrong way to do it—even between the most intimate of lovers or friends. And a gentleman must know the right way, of course….

The correct way is to use a clean utensil to collect the food to be tasted, then pass the food to the taster, handle first. Expert assistance should be engaged for more complicated transfers of food, however. If a whole, unwanted side-order, for example, is to be given to a dining companion, the table assistant should be summoned to the table, where he should be asked to provide a salad plate-size plate or dish onto which the side-order should be placed. If the request is made at the time the food orders are brought to the table, the table assistant will transfer the side-order. Once eating has commenced, however, the plate should be requested, but the sharer should transfer the side-order himself since it would be inappropriate for a waiter to “meddle” with food that is already being eaten.

Reaching across the table with one’s fork to “taste” food in another person’s plate—not matter how intimate the people may be away from the dining table—is to be avoided. And worse yet, to pick up one’s plate and extend it across the table in order to share or receive a portion of a dish is simply unacceptable at any dinner table, formal or otherwise.

The Correct Ways to Serve After-Dinner Coffee in the Western World



Traditionally, in a private, formal setting, men and women would separate for after-dinner coffee, women “withdrawing” to drawing room for their coffee, tea, liqueurs, cigarettes, and candies, and men remaining at the dinner table for their coffee, cigars, and after-dinner drinks. Thereafter, both sexes would reconvene in the parlor before bidding the host and hostess good night. The tradition of men and women separating at the end of the dinner was less the result of sexism than it was a courtesy to women on account of their expressed objections to the smell of cigar smoke.

Today, at small dinner parties, where it is easy for all guests seated at the table to converse with each other, coffee is oftentimes served at the dinner table. When the gathering is larger, however, such that guests, for the most part, converse only with their dinner partners and those in their immediate proximity, serving coffee in the living room allows guests to socialize with everyone prior to their departure. And today, of course, even in the most formal settings in Western-influenced cultures, men and women no longer separate for coffee.

At large banquets and wedding receptions, for example, coffee will be served at the dinner table. While it is best that the coffee setting be brought to the table when coffee is being served, at some large receptions, the coffee setting will be placed onto the table when it is being initially set. Again, under those circumstances, it is best placed to the upper left of the bread plate—out of the way—until needed. Then, when coffee is being served, the table assistant will place the coffee setting before the guest and proceed with the service.

When coffee is being served at the table with dessert, the coffee setting will be placed to the right side of the dessert plate (By that point, all the wine glasses will have been removed from the table, thereby creating uncluttered space for the placement of the coffee setting). And when it is being served at the dinner table after dessert, it will be placed directly before the guest, consistent with the placement of the dishes for any other course.

After-dinner coffee is served at the formal dinner table in one of several ways:

  1. A tray of filled cups is presented by the butler to each guest, who should carefully lift the saucer bearing the cup and teaspoon with one hand as he steadies the filled coffee cup with the other hand, placing the setting onto dinner table before him. The guest then adds sugar and cream to taste from sugar and cream dispensers conveniently placed around the table.
  2. The butler presents a tray with empty cups, each sitting atop its saucer with a teaspoon, and sugar. The guest places the desired amount of sugar into one of the cups then carefully picks up the selected coffee setting, holding it in his hands as it is filled by a table assistant working in conjunction with the butler. Cream, if desired, is added by the guest at the table from a conveniently situated cream dispenser.
  3. Coffee is poured by the butler at a sideboard and presented to each guest by a table assistant. Under such circumstances, there will be sugar bowls and cream dispensers placed conveniently around the table so that guests may add sugar and cream if desired.
  4. Some hostesses insist, even at adequately staffed formal dinners, upon personally serving coffee to her guests from her seat. Assisted by the butler, she fills each cup from her place at the table, with the cups being presented to the guests, beginning with the lady seated to the immediate right of the host and proceeding counterclockwise. Each guest then adds his desired cream and sugar from the conveniently placed dispensers.

At the formal dinner, coffee will be served in a teacup, not a coffee mug; and a teacup should be held by its handle, the index finger passing slightly through the handle, with the thumb, placed just a little higher against the handle from the opposing side, meeting the tip of the index finger to form a grip as the “middle” finger is placed at the bottom of the handle to provide balance to and overall support of the cup. The other two fingers should follow the natural, graceful curve of the hand. Never should the little finger be extended outwards (No “pinky” in the air!).

When after-dinner coffee is served away from the dinner table—these days, usually in the living room—it will either be presented on a tray by the butler or another of the service staff, or it will be poured at the coffee table or from a sideboard by the hostess herself, each guest desiring coffee approaching her to receive a cup, prepared with cream and sugar per request.

How To Select An After-Dinner Drink

After-Dinner Drinks—Liqueurs

The purpose of after-dinner drinks, also called “pousse-café” by the French and literally translates as “coffee-pusher,” and “ammazzacaffè” in Italian, meaning “coffee-killer,” is to aid digestion after a copious meal and to cleanse the palate of any potentially unpleasant coffee aftertaste.  The offerings vary from region to region, country to country, culture to culture. In Italy, for example, they are called “digestivi” and typically include grappa, sambuca, and limoncello. In the Caribbean, aged rum is the digestive liquor of choice, with “Single-Barrel Cruzan” being amongst the most esteemed.

In general, after-dinner drinks form three major categories: dessert wines, such as port and vin santo; cordials, such as chartreuse and grappa; and “the brown liquors,” such as brandy, akvavit, whiskey, scotch, cognac, rum, and bourbon. The general rule for selecting an after-dinner drink is that it should complement, but provide a contrast to, the dessert: A very sweet dessert should be followed by a dry after-dinner drink, while a more tart dessert should be accompanied by a sweet after-dinner drink.

The Etiquette of “Shopping While Ethnic”

The Etiquette of “Shopping While ‘Ethnic’ ” (a.k.a. “Shopping While Black” [Latin, Arab, Muslim, Transgender, etc. ])

Most civilized nations of the world have public accommodations laws that prohibit entities that serve the general public from discriminating against members of the general public based on, for example, race, color, ethnicity, age, creed, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, and, increasingly, gender-identity. But despite those proscriptions, some public accommodation entities—typically based on prejudice and racist notions—are known to routinely single-out certain groups of people or certain individuals for disparate, substandard treatment.

The incidence of discrimination in places of public accommodation is particularly egregious in the housing, retail, restaurant, and hospitality industries. Some retail associations even have mobile phone Apps that allow members to notify each other of “suspect individuals” so as to be on “retail alert.” Therefore, when a gentleman—especially one who does not summarily fit the prevailing “preferred” prototype—goes shopping for goods and services, he may experience disparate treatment. And he must know how to handle such unfortunate incidents like a gentleman when they occur.

While there are legal remedies for mistreatment that rises to the level of violations of law, a gentleman’s primary reason for going shopping should be to purchase desired goods and services, not to have to defend himself against or ferret out discrimination. The general public is entitled to an “expectation of equal treatment” in establishments that serve the general public. The onus of rendering courteous, unbiased service is on the management and staff of the establishment. Customers should not be required to “prove” or “demonstrate” their worthiness of polite service.

When discrimination rears its ugly head, it sometimes does so subtly, at other times blatantly, but always odiously: When a gentleman requests to see a leather briefcase but is instead informed of its price rather than being presented with the item for his perusal; when, in a practically empty, no-reservations-necessary restaurant, a gentleman and his date are ushered to the establishment’s least desirable table (the one next to the incessantly swinging, squeaky doors of the kitchen); when a store clerk, sitting at her desk in her Madison Avenue boutique, excitedly looks up from her work upon hearing the doorbell, only to realize that at the door is an “undesirable type,” thereafter totally ignoring the gentleman at the door—despite his three subsequent buzzes, aware that he has been noticed but is being disregarded; when, upon approaching the “Please Wait to be Seated” sign, a gentleman is met by a waiter suggesting that the gentleman “have a look at the menu before being shown to a seat”; when a transgender customer is not allowed to try on clothing of his/her liking in the dressing room that corresponds to his/her gender-identification, or when he/she is refused a makeup demonstration at a cosmetics counter in a major department store; when a taxi bypasses a hailing gentleman only to pick up another a few yards away; the store clerk who asks certain customers (but not certain others) for a picture I.D. when proffered a credit card for payment; the waiter who invokes the “gratuity added” option for certain diners while allowing other diners to tip at their discretion; the online rental apartment that “was just booked” when a person with an “ethnic-sounding name” requests the apartment, but that very same apartment is somehow magically “available” when the normal-sounding-name friend of the person with the “ethnic-sounding name” requests the same apartment 30 seconds later; the five-star hotel with an on-site beauty salon that can only style “certain types” of hair….

When a gentleman feels certain that he is being singled-out for substandard, disparate treatment, he should immediately raise his concerns with the establishment’s management. If the matter is not immediately resolved to the gentleman’s satisfaction, he should immediately file an official complaint with the establishment (if an internal grievance/complaint procedure exists), being sure to document the date, time, factual specifics, name(s) of the employee(s)/manager, etc. The names and contact information of witnesses, if there are any, should be secured. When complaint/case/file numbers are issued pending actual copies of complaints, the reference numbers should be safeguarded for evidentiary purposes. (When no internal grievance procedure exists, the gentleman should document the specifics of the incident for his own record-keeping). If after exhausting the establishment’s grievance procedure the matter is not resolved to the gentleman’s satisfaction, he should contact an attorney and commence legal action against the establishment. Systematic discrimination remains rampant despite the existence of decades-old anti-discrimination laws and public awareness of the inappropriateness of such behavior. So to the extent legal proceedings will engender compliance, a gentleman should have his day in court.

Alternatively, or in addition to, a gentleman may elect to report the incident to a “Better Business Bureau,” the local Chamber of Commerce, the appropriate trade guild, or the equivalent of the Department of Consumer Services, for example. And, of course, there are the options of exposing the details of the incident on social media and internet-based review sites. To a large degree, the method of conflict resolution may depend on the degree of the indignation and the desired remedy–from monetary compensation to public apology to sensitivity training for staff to charitable donations, for example.

But legal wrangling and official complaints can be  time-consuming, expensive, frustrating, and fraught with uncertain outcomes. For some gentlemen, therefore, comporting themselves in such a manner as to preemptively minimize (at least in theory) the incidence of prejudicial and racist treatment is a more “practical” approach. Whereas persons of the “preferred profile” are afforded courtesies based on their mere existence, certain other persons have to “look the part” in order to be granted basic respect. Just as a well-made suit and tie can convey a certain “authority” in the legal and banking professions, dressing with a certain “casual chic” may unfurl the proverbial red carpet in the retail and service industries. The adage, “One never gets a second chance to make a first impression” rings true at Madison Avenue boutique doorbells. As such, there are certain “tricks” to increasing one’s chances of receiving proper treatment. Store clerks tend to render better service to shoppers carrying shopping bags from upscale stores. A gentleman planning on passing his afternoon shopping on New York’s Madison Avenue or Paris’ Avenue Montaigne, for example, may want to shop preliminarily at Saks Fifth Avenue or Galeries Lafayette. Dark sunglasses; a shirt of crisp white linen; a good pair of jeans nonchalantly combined with a good pair of loafers and a high-quality belt; a well-made, well-fitting blazer; a Panama hat in the summer or a fedora in the winter are all known to jointly and severally convey a certain je ne sais quoi conducive to receiving polite service.

How to Get out of Jail or Prison–alive and un-raped

Incarceration Etiquette: How to Get out of Jail or Prison—alive and un-raped.

In a perfect world, gentlemen are never incarcerated. But the world is an imperfect place, where bad things happen to good people each and every day. And on any given day, a gentleman may find himself thrown into jail or sentenced to prison. Everything from a routine traffic stop to participating in a demonstration to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or fitting a “suspect” profile, or a lovers’ quarrel gone bad can result in justified or unjustified incarceration. And because of the nature of jails and prisons and the persons oftentimes encountered therein, a gentleman may quickly find himself spiraling downwards in unfamiliar, treacherous waters with lifelong, life-threatening, or even life-ending implications.

Incarceration typically commences with arrest. What is of paramount importance is that a gentleman realize that from the moment of arrest—whether rightful or wrongful—his normal humanity-presumed freedoms and rights are severely diminished. As such, his conduct should reflect his comprehension of his diminished condition. Dignified compliance with the lawful requests of law enforcement personnel is highly recommended. (To that end, a gentleman should be aware of his rights and obligations—and those of law enforcement personnel—during interactions with law enforcement personnel. See “Police Detention” above). A gentleman should also be aware that whatever indignities are experienced during the arrest process are but a mere prelude to what will occur during incarceration, brief or extended. Jails and prisons are demeaning, humiliating realities with little regard for personal privacy and dignity. One of the primary purposes for jails and prisons is to severely diminish a person’s freedom as punishment for his alleged crime. Such is the reality of incarceration….

While some modern families educate their children about the proper conduct for interacting with strangers, criminals, or law enforcement officials in the outside world, rarely do families instruct their members on what to do or not to do in the unfortunate event of incarceration. “Prison 101” is rarely, if ever, a course-offering in any curriculum. And “How to Avoid Getting Penetrated in a Penitentiary” or “How to Protect Your ‘Bootyhole’ While in the Hell-hole” are not likely to be featured articles in mainstream men’s magazine for the foreseeable future. Simply put, society does not educate its members about incarceration prior to incarceration. But given the facility and randomness with which incarceration can occur, and given the numerous instances where routine apprehensions have yielded debilitating or even deadly results, it would be irresponsible for a 21st -century guidebook on men’s manners not to provide guidance on a subject that years ago no decent, upstanding gentleman would have been expected to know: prison etiquette. Times have changed….

Different countries and jurisdictions have different laws pertaining to incarceration and to detainees. But in general, incarcerated persons have less rights than their free counterparts. Even constitutional guarantees and fundamental rights such as the Freedom of Speech, the Right to Privacy, the Freedoms of Movement and Association, and Equal Protection are diminished once incarcerated. Still, even the most hardened, notorious, dangerous criminal is entitled to certain basic Human Rights while incarcerated. The laws presented below pertain to the United States of America—the country with the highest documented incarceration rate in the world—and are illustrative, not comprehensive or exhaustive. [In October of 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States of America was 716 per 100,000 of the national population. While the United States accounts for only 4.4% of the world’s population, according to 2013 figures, it houses 22% of the world’s documented prisoners].

The Difference Between “Jail” and “Prison”

The terms “jail” and “prison” are oftentimes used interchangeably, but incorrectly so.


Jails, also known as “detention facilities,” are operated by a county or city government and serve to house three main types of inmates:

-People who have been arrested and are being held pending a plea agreement, a trial, or sentencing;

-People who have been convicted of a misdemeanor criminal offense and are serving a sentence of typically less than one year;

-People who have been sentenced to prison and are about to be transferred to another facility.

[“Lockups” are typically holding facilities in very small communities where one or a few arrestees can be held for a short period pending transfer to a nearby jail/detention facility].

Unlike at prisons, many people arrive and are processed at jails on a daily basis as a consequence of intoxication, fights, loitering, etc., that led to their arrests. In some communities, mentally ill persons who appear to be or are a harm to themselves or to others may be transported to jail when no other suitable facility exists or is available. As such, the intake process at jails can be hectic for the jail’s staff and its medical personnel.

Of the many detainees delivered to jails on a daily basis, some may stay less than a day or only a few days, until they are approved for release pursuant to a court proceeding; some detainees are released after posting bail; others are released to a pre-trial services caseload; others are released and placed under supervision by a probation agency; and others are released on their own recognizance, with an agreement to appear in court.


A prison, also known as a “penitentiary,” is a secure facility operated by a state or the federal government that houses people who have been convicted of a felony criminal offense and are serving a sentence or one or more years.

-The number of inmates entering prisons each day is far lower than their jail counterparts. People going to prison know in advance: They may be transferred from a jail; taken to prison from a courthouse after a conviction; or may report to a prison on a date set by a court.

-(People released from prison may be released to parole supervision or to some type of community program. Alternatively, if they have served their full term in prison, they may be released with no subsequent supervision).

[ Note: In some states, county jails are referred to as “county prisons”; in some states, both jails and prisons are administered on a state-level; in some states, persons may be kept in jails for up to two years (as opposed to less than one year in many other states); in some jurisdictions, especially smaller ones, jails and prisons share different sections of the same facility; the U.S. Federal Government operates several detention centers in several U.S. cities. ]

(Theoretically, prisons were created to serve four primary purposes: rehabilitation (through programs and treatment), the aim being to have inmates return to the society at large as functioning, contributing, law-abiding individuals; incapacitation, the notion that placing the offender in a secure facility prevents him from causing further harm to society; retribution, the idea that making the offender serve time in confinement is payback to society for the harm done against society; and deterrence, the knowledge that if someone else had to pay the high price of incarceration for his crimes, then others will be discouraged from committing similar and other crimes).

Standard Intake Procedure at Jails/Detention Facilities

After an arrest—for whatever infraction, whether disorderly conduct, driving under the influence of alcohol, assault, drugs, etc—the arrested individual will be transported, in handcuffs or some other restraining device, to the jail/detention facility for “booking” and possible detention. (A preliminary search for weapons is typically conducted at the point of arrest).

-Once brought into the booking facility, the arrested person is again searched for weapons, contraband, and anything that could be used to endanger others or himself.

-After the search, the arrested person is typically taken to a “waiting room,” where he is likely to encounter other persons who have been arrested that day for various alleged crimes. Supervised by the facility’s personnel, persons in the waiting area are generally not handcuffed or otherwise restrained. They are seated in an open area as in any other waiting room. (Arrested persons are typically angry, aggressive, frightened, and/or injured. Many are under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs. Some are suffering from mental illness. While in the waiting area, a gentleman should conduct himself with dignity, focus on his own affairs, and be courteous and polite to those whom he directly encounters. A general greeting appropriate to the time of day may be extended upon entering the waiting area. Some people will respond).

-At an appointed time, typically in the order of arrival, the arrested person will be escorted to the “booking counter,” where he will be instructed to remove his shoes and socks and is issued standard rubber or fabric slippers. A series of basic personal identification and health-related questions are asked by the booking officer. (See above, “Police Detention” for information on the Right to Remain Silent, Right to Legal Representation, etc.). A check for pending charges will also be conducted. Typically, at the booking counter, the arrested person is ordered to open his mouth to verify that he is concealing nothing therein; he is asked to flex his ears forward to verify that he is concealing nothing behind them; to the extent possible, he is asked to run his fingers through his hair such that anything contained therein will be revealed; and with outstretched arms, he is asked to spread apart his fingers, palms facing upwards then downwards, to verify that nothing is concealed within his hands/between his fingers. Additional precautions may be taken, including more invasive searching, depending on the nature of the alleged crime, mental state of the arrested person, degree of aggressiveness, etc.

-The arrested person is fingerprinted.

-The arrested person is then transported to the shower area, where he is ordered to remove all his personal clothing—including underwear—so that he may be deloused and showered under supervision. Upon completing the bodily cleansing, the arrested person is issued jail clothing and basic toiletries. The arrested person’s personal clothing and personal property are stored until release (unless relevant for evidentiary purposes). At some detention facilities, different-colored prison clothing is assigned to different detainees, depending on the severity of the alleged crime.

-Once the arrested person is dressed in the prison-issued garments, he is photographed: the infamous “mug shot.” (Some jurisdictions do not permit smiling). (A gentleman should do his utmost to look as charming as possible during the “mug shot,” for such photos become a part of the public record and are oftentimes widely distributed.  If there is ever a time to be photogenic, it is during the taking of the “mug shot”!  Just ask Jeremy Meeks!)

-After being photographed, the arrested person is taken to a classification room, where he is screened and examined by a team of prison personnel and medical professionals for physical and psychological well-being; questioned about known enemies within the incarceration system; asked about gang affiliations; may inform prison professionals of special needs and circumstances; etc.

-Based on the findings of the screening committee and the nature of the alleged crime, the arrested person is assigned to a maximum-, medium-, or minimum-security cell, which, again depending on the findings and other space and availability issues, may be a single-cell or multiple-person accommodation.

-Persons on medication may request that their medication be brought to them by a family member or friend. Otherwise, on-staff physicians should ensure that medication be secured for detainees.

-(Arrests occurring in the late afternoon or night generally require at least an overnight detention such that the appropriate facility and court procedures may be completed. Arrested persons are sometimes released, pending further legal proceedings, on their own recognizance. Otherwise, they are released upon posting bail, or are retained at the facility [or are transferred, depending on the circumstances] pending further legal proceedings).

Pre-Trial Detainees

-Pre-trial detainees (persons who cannot post bail or choose not to post bail and are consequently detained pending trial) have the right to be held in humane facilities. In addition, pre-trial detainees are not to be “punished” or otherwise treated as “guilty” while awaiting trial.

Standard Intake Procedure at Prisons

Initial Processing

-Offenders sentenced to prison are transported to a “receiving area” or “reception and guidance center” where they are tested, evaluated, and classified to the institution to which they will eventually be sent to serve out the prison sentence. Theoretically, the “reception process” should take about 10 days; but prisoners oftentimes remain in reception divisions for several additional weeks (three to five being typical), pending the availability of a cell in the particular prison to which they have been assigned).

-When offenders are first brought into a reception area, they are photographed, showered (including a delousing cleanse), and fingerprinted. Offenders are also provided with standard prison clothing (oftentimes similarly styled to medical “scrubs”) that must be worn during the processing; a toiletry kit including soap, toothpaste, and deodorant; and soft rubber or fabric footwear. (Any personal belongings of the offender will be secured by prison personnel until the offender is released).

-A check for pending charges is conducted, and a prisoner file is created, including the pre-sentence report and other documents that will be used in classification.


-All prisoners are administered a Tuberculosis (TB) test and a physical examination, which includes a blood test for HIV and venereal disease. (If further examination is required, or if a medical specialist is needed, arrangements are made and appointments are scheduled, sometimes requiring that the prisoner be taken outside the facility by security escort). Dental and eye exams are also scheduled.

-Offenders are also administered psychological testing. Attempts are made to identify personality disorders. (Prisoners who appear to be “normal” are allowed to continue in the processing protocol, while prisoners who appear to be in need of “further evaluation” and “possible intervention” are scheduled for interviews by staff psychologists. Prisoners convicted of certain types of crimes—such as sexual misconduct—are automatically scheduled for an evaluation by a psychologist. The interview may result in a recommendation for counseling or therapy).

-Prisoners’ reading and math skills are also tested.


-During “classification,” all the material collected about a particular prisoner, including the pre-sentence report, is reviewed. A “classification committee,” which typically includes a custody staff member, makes a decision—based on test results and the recommendations of the processor whose job it is to read all the reports pertaining to a particular prisoner—as to which of the classification levels would be most appropriate to house the prisoner.

-The primary concerns of the classification committee are the potential for escape and misbehavior while in prison. (Where applicable, an individual’s past escape record as well as conduct while incarcerated are considered). Enemies, if known or identified by staff or the prisoner, are separated throughout the period of incarceration. Prisoners in need of special protection are assigned to “protection units” within prisons. (Other arrangements are made: Prisoners who may be difficult to protect at state prisons are sometimes sent to federal prisons).

-Attempts are made to also classify a prisoner to a prison that offers programming that meets the special needs—such as substance abuse, sex-offender counseling, basic education, or vocational training—of the prisoner.

What Occurs During Reception and Classification

-“Reception” is tantamount to “quarantine”: A new prisoner’s movements are significantly restricted.

-While in the reception unit, a prisoner may receive visits only from the following persons: qualified clergy; attorneys on official business with the prisoner; and the Office of the Legislative Ombudsman.

-Prisoners may access the telephone only to make collect calls.

-Prisoners are fed in the reception unit and are typically allowed one hour of recreation per day.

-Library books and law books are available.

-Psychologists, social workers, physicians’ assistants, nurses, and doctors are available.

-Religious services are available on weekends.

-Prisoners are not allowed to have outside clothing or any private property while in the intake/reception unit.

Prisoners’ Rights

Gentlemen should know their rights in anticipation of the unfortunate event of incarceration. Family members and friends of incarcerated persons should also know their rights vis-à-vis the prison system as well as the rights of their incarcerated loved ones so as to render or seek assistance in the enforcement of those rights. The laws pertaining to incarceration frequently change and evolve, and gentlemen should remain aware of those developments. Today, online entities such as and provide reliable information on prisoners’ rights; and, of course, expert legal advice should be consulted.

Pre-Trial Detainees

-Pre-trial detainees (persons who cannot post bail or choose not to post bail and are consequently detained pending trial) have the right to be held in humane facilities. In addition, pre-trial detainees are not to be “punished” or otherwise treated as “guilty” while awaiting trial.

Constitutional Protections

-The Eight Amendment of the United States Constitution ensures that inmates are incarcerated under humane conditions and not subjected to “cruel and unusual” punishment. Any punishment or condition that can be deemed in violation of a person’s basic concept of human dignity may be regarded as “cruel and unusual.” [In 1995, a federal court in the State of Massachusetts found that detaining inmates in a 150-year-old, vermin-infested facility that lacked adequate toilets and was deemed a fire hazard was a violation of the inmates’ constitutional rights].

-The First Amendment of the United States Constitution allows for the free exercise of religion; freedom of speech; the right of people to peaceably assemble; freedom of the press; and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, among other things. Inmates retain only those First Amendment Rights that are not inconsistent with the legitimate objectives of the penal corrections system, such as the preservation of order, discipline, and security. As such, prison officials can open incoming mail, read e-mails, and censor outgoing communication in order to ensure that it does not contain any information that could interfere with the facilities’ objectives. Prison personnel may not, however, censor correspondence from an inmate that is merely “inflammatory” or “rude” to persons outside the facility. (Inmates do not have the right to have face-to-face interviews news media or news reporters, the rationale being that the media’s access to inmates does not supersede access by other members of the general public).

-The Due Process Clause protects inmates against unauthorized or intentional deprivation of their personal property by prison officials.

-Inmates do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their cells, and, as such, are not protected against “shakedowns” or searches of their cells to look for weapons, drugs, or other contraband. (Prison officials are entitled to open mail directed to inmates in order to check for illegal items or weapons). Inmates are not protected against warrantless searches of their persons or cells. Prison-cell toilets do not have doors. Bodily functions are performed in front of cellmates. If the shower room is equipped with stalls, the stalls do not feature doors.

-Inmates are generally not protected by employment laws such as minimum wage requirements when participating in work-release programs or other employment initiatives.

-Inmates have a right to be free from racial segregation, except in cases where segregation is deemed necessary for preserving prison security and discipline.

-Inmates have the right to be free from discrimination while imprisoned, including racial segregation, disparate treatment based on religion or ethnicity, or preferences based on age.

-Transgender people who have not had sex-reassignment (genital) surgery (regardless of how long they may have lived as members of the other gender or regardless of how much other medical treatment they may have undergone) are generally classified according to the birth-sex (“more-apparent sex”) for purposes of prison housing/accommodations. Transgender persons with ambiguous physical sexual characteristics are sometimes given “administrative segregation.” (But “administrative segregation” typically results in exclusion from recreation, educational and occupational opportunities, and associational rights). Generally, transgender persons who were undergoing hormonal treatment prior to incarceration are entitled to continued treatment. Generally, whether to provide hormonal treatment to transgender people seeking to commence hormonal treatment while incarcerated is determined on a case-by-case/jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis. Transsexual people who have undergone genital surgery are generally classified and housed according to their reassigned sex. In some jurisdictions, qualified prisoners are entitled to sex-reassignment surgery.

-Prison officials are required to protect inmates from violence at the hands of other prisoners. Prison officials who display “deliberate indifference” to this requirement violate the Eight Amendment Rights of prisoners—the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

-Inmates have a right to be free from sexual crimes, including sexual harassment—from other prisoners as well as from prison personnel.

-Inmates have a right to complain about substandard prison conditions and to voice their concerns about the treatment they receive—without fear of retaliation. (Inmates have a right to access the courts in order to seek resolution to such complaints).

-Inmates are entitled to “adequate” medical care and attention as needed to treat both short-term and long-term conditions and illnesses. (For example, a person with a cavity might not be entitled to a filling, but he might be entitled to have the tooth pulled. Even persons with life-threatening illnesses such as AIDS or certain forms of cancer are typically provided with only the minimum treatment necessary to keep them reasonably comfortable—not necessarily to combat their illnesses or extend their lives).

-Inmates with disabilities are entitled to assert their rights pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure access to prison facilities and appropriate programs.

-An inmate is entitled to a hearing if he is being transferred to a mental health facility. (However, an inmate is not always entitled to a hearing if he is being transferred between two mental health facilities).

-Inmates requiring mental health care are entitled to appropriate “adequate” care.

-An inmate is not entitled to a full hearing before the government may force him to take anti-psychotic drugs against his will. (An administrative hearing before independent medical professionals is legally sufficient).

-In most cases, an inmate is not entitled to representation in an internal disciplinary proceeding. But the U.S. Supreme Court has held that an inmate who is the subject of an internal disciplinary investigation or proceeding is entitled to advanced written notice of the alleged violation and a written statement of the facts, evidence relied upon, and the reason for the action being brought against him. (The inmate is allowed to call witnesses and provide documentary evidence—provided that doing so will not risk order, discipline, and security. [Consequently, inmates are rarely allowed to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses]).

Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) of 1996

In 1996 Congress passed the Prison Litigation Reform Act, limiting an inmate’s access to the federal court system. The Act contains five major provisions:

-Prisoners must exhaust internal prison grievance procedures before filing suit in federal court;

-Prisoners must pay their own court filing fees, either in one payment or in a series of monthly installments;

-Courts have the right to dismiss any prisoner’s claim that the court finds to be “frivolous,” “malicious,” or stating an improper claim. (Cases dismissed for the aforementioned reasons earn the petitioner a “strike.” A petitioner with three or more recorded “strikes” must pay full court filing fees in advance of filing any subsequent claim in the federal court system. [The “three-strike rule” may be waived in cases where an inmate is deemed to be at risk of immediate and serious physical injury]);

-A prisoner cannot file a claim for mental or emotional injury unless he can demonstrate that he also suffered physical injury;

-A prisoner may lose credit for “good time” if a judge determines that a law suit was filed as a means of harassment, if the inmate lied, or if the inmate provided false information.

Prisoners’ Survival Tips: How to get out Alive, Unraped

Enacted in 2003, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) is a federal law that was created to eliminate sexual abuse in confinement. The Act‘s stated purpose is to “provide for the analysis of the incidence and effects of prison rape in Federal, State, and local institutions and to provide information, resources, recommendations and funding to protect individuals from prison rape.” The Act has established a “zero-tolerance” policy, and prevention is its top priority.

While the Act has been effective in significantly reducing blatant incidents of sexual abuse such as gang-rapes and forcible rape, it still remains largely under-effective in cases of sexual abuse and harassment via manipulation, deception, trickery, peer pressure, etc. And the abuse begins from the prison intake process, where new inmates are stripped, deloused, showered, registered, and assigned to housing units.

The Sexual Predator’s Profile

Seasoned inmates who offer instantaneous “friendship,” “advice,” “protection.” (The general rule: OBB—Observe Before Befriend [See how the person offering friendship treats others, and observe how others treat him]. In prison, as elsewhere, friendship should be earned. A good rule-of-thumb is to seek primary friendships with fellow neophyte inmates who are equally inexperienced). Beware of anyone who offers “fast” friendship and people who offer to “teach you the ropes.” Where a person sits during meals is oftentimes a good indication of a person’s ranking within the prison system: Persons who eat close to the food service area are regarded as “dominant,” while persons who position themselves closer to the guards and prison staff are regarded as “dominated.”

Inmates who claim to “know” you from “somewhere.” (Unless a person is a known pre-incarceration friend or acquaintance, do not acknowledge any “familiarity.” Be very discreet and guarded with your personal information).

Inmates who offer toiletries such as soap, shower slippers, etc. (The general rule is that nothing in prison or jail is offered for “free.” As such, accept no gifts from anyone who is not a confirmed friend). “Gifts are frequently left atop an inmate’s bed. (Such “gifts” should not be accepted; instead they should be politely placed at the entrance of your cell for retrieval by the donor. “Gifts” that are accepted come at a price that typically far exceeds the value of the gift).

Much of the sexual advances occurs as inmates assist each other while using the exercise equipment. Sexual predators oftentimes offer to “help” inmates exercise, oftentimes positioning themselves “closer” to the person being assisted than necessary. (The general rule is that in such occurrences, the person being assisted should politely request “additional space,” then seek another workout partner).

Sexual predators oftentimes seek personal information—about hometown, family members, friends, etc. (The general rule: Guard your privacy).

Sexual predators oftentimes “court” their victims or targets. In prison, every act of kindness has a cost: even the opening of a door comes at a “price.” Accept favors only from confirmed friends. Again, in prison, the general rule is that trust must be earned.

Sexual predators usually congregate in the shower rooms. The general shower rules are: 1) Shower with underwear on; 2) Do not speak to persons in adjacent shower stalls; 3) Do not accept anything related to showers or hygiene; 4) Do not eat/use anything left for you on your bed as a “present.” Return such items by leaving them by the door of your cell for retrieval by the donor.

What To Do If Sexually Abused:

-Seek medical attention immediately. (Do not wash, shower, brush teeth, or use the toilet. Forensic evidence will be critical in resolving your case).

-Seek immediate medical treatment to help prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

-You have a right to report sexual abuse/assault and be free of retaliation.

-Inmate Grievances (IG) and other pertinent reports should be filed.

-You are entitled to know the results of the investigations.

-You may also report your case to an outside, independent rape crisis center, requesting assistance in the reporting your case on your behalf.

-Family members may be asked to report cases of sexual abuse/harassment on your behalf.

-It is important to know that sexual abuse or harassment is never a part of the prescribed penalty for any infraction or violation that may have caused your incarceration.

General Jail/Prison Survival Rules:

-Observe. Remain cautious.

-Be yourself; do not pretend to be someone you are not.

-Whatever you need, get it from a Corrections Officer (CO).

-Do not gamble. Gambling debts rarely can be repaid on account of exorbitant “interest rates.”

-Do not use drugs/sell drugs/deal drugs while in jail or prison.

-If you feel you are in danger, go immediately to the appropriate authorities and request a “removal” from the situation. Speak with appropriate staff. (Specific names need not be mentioned)—but even so, it is not considered “snitching” if your life is in danger.

-Report threats, manipulation, etc., immediately to the appropriate prison personnel.

Sources: ; ;,4551,7-119-9741_9742-23416–,00.html ; ; ;


The Order of a Formal Meal–from the last meal served on the RMS Titanic on April 14, 1912, to a formal meal in a modern home

The Order of the Formal Dinner

The order and manner in which food is presented at a formal dinner varies from culture to culture, country to country. And to further complicate matters, the order in which food is presented on the menus of restaurants that offer national cuisines oftentimes varies from the traditional order of food presentation in the respective countries. It is therefore necessary for a modern-day gentleman to have a basic understanding of the various gastronomical traditions of the world if he is to successfully navigate the ever-increasingly eclectic world of social dining. (See chapter, “International Customs”).

In the Gilded Age, it was not uncommon for hostesses to present ten-course meals—with all the required eating and drinking implements proudly presented on the dining table at the commencement of the meal. Some hostesses were renowned for setting their dinner tables with 24 pieces of silver and 10 glasses for each guest. It was a time when less was not more; it was less. The April 12, 1912 dinner on board the RMS Titanic, regarded by many as the final dinner of the Age, featured:

First Course

Hors D’ Oeuvres


Second Course

Consommé Olga

Cream of Barley

Third Course

Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce, Cucumbers

Fourth Course

Filet Mignons Lili

Saute of Chicken, Lyonnaise

Vegetable Marrow Farci

Fifth Course

Lamb, Mint Sauce

Roast Duckling, Apple Sauce

Sirloin of Beef, Chateau Potatoes

Green Peas

Creamed Carrots

Boiled Rice

Parmentier & Boiled New Potatoes

Sixth Course

Punch Romaine

Seventh Course

Roast Squabs & Cress

Eight Course

Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette

Ninth Course

Pâté de Foie Gras

Tenth Course

Waldorf Pudding

Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly

Chocolate & Vanilla Eclairs

French Ice Cream

Each course was served with a different, complementary wine. And after the Tenth Course, fresh fruits and cheeses were made available. Thereafter, cigars were offered with a choice of coffee, port, or distilled liquors.

Today, however, even the most formal of meals in the finest of homes are limited to six, or, perhaps, seven courses, and no more than three eating implements are presented on each side of the plate setting at the beginning of the meal: The additional implements are brought to the table as needed, when needed.

The Menu Card

Some hosts take delight in surprising their guests with each meal presented. Many guests, however, especially those with modest appetites, prefer to know the scope of the dinner before it begins so that they can take portions—if the dishes are presented à la russe—which will not exhaust their appetites before the culmination of the meal at dessert. And the most practical way to afford guests advance notice of the courses is via menu cards. At large dinners, menu cards, either engraved or written in calligraphy, are placed onto the table, one between every two guests, or sometimes onto each place plate under the napkin. At smaller, private, formal dinners in a home, there is usually one menu card, which is placed before the hostess.

The typical order of a meal in a fine restaurant in the United States is: appetizer, soup, salad, main course (also called the entrée), dessert, and coffee/tea/after-dinner drink. That, however, unbeknownst to many Americans, is not the classic order in which food is to be presented at a formal dinner in Western culture.

A 21st-century, Formal, Six-Course Dinner



Fish Course

Meat or Fowl Course




After-dinner Drink

In some countries, or regions thereof, a sherbet/sorbet/granité is served between the fish and meat/fowl courses to “cleanse the palate.” And long gone are the days when a game course (of some wild meat) would be served after the meat course. Today, if game is to be served, it will be presented as a substitute for the meat/fowl course.

In Italy, one of the founding fathers of Western European culture, the typical order of a formal meal would include a course of pasta (in the south) or risotto (in the north) because of the prominence of those staples in Italian cuisine.

Antipasto (appetizer)


Main Course (Meat, Fish, Poultry)


Assorted Cheeses


Fresh Fruits