What are Cellmates?

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  • Written By: Phil Shepley
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 February 2020
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Cellmates are two or more people who share a jail or prison cell for a given period of time. This can be as short as a few minutes in a cell such as a drunk tank, or as long as an entire lifetime together in a prison cell. Cellmates are necessary in the prison system simply because there is not enough room in prisons for there to be one cell for each convict.

The term cellmate is made up of the words cell and mate. A cell is simply a small room, as in a jail, but it does not necessarily have to be in a jail or prison. The word mate implies that there is some type of friendly existence between these partners, but this does not have to be the case. Since cellmates can be aggressive towards one another at any time, they have to be assessed by corrections officers before being put in the same cell.

Cellmates are not to be confused with prison mates. Prison mates differ in the fact that they are in the same prison, as the name implies, but do not have to share the same cell. Cellmates are necessary mainly because of prison overpopulation, as there are simply not enough jails or cells for there to be one prisoner for each cell. Many problems naturally arise as a result of the sharing of cells.


The biggest problem experienced between cellmates in prison is fighting. It is difficult enough for two people to live in such close quarters when they are not convicts. Other problems have arisen due to the sharing of cells including gang activities, the spread of HIV and other communicable diseases, distribution of contraband and drug use. Rewards for good behavior become necessary to help keep the peace between cellmates, and to reduce the amount of illegal activities in prison. They also helps to reduce overall prison population since the best thing a prisoner can receive for good behavior is time off of their overall prison sentence.


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Post 1

Are there any other meaning of the word cellmates, some relating to cell phones, please?

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