This article describes the observation study carried out within a prison annex housing university students. The main sources are the ethnographic notes collected during tutorship activity over a period of 7 years. The article focuses on a general shift that has occurred in Italian prison culture over the last decades, with particular attention to shared norms as well as community values and codes, all elements that seem to be progressively overtaken by inmates' personal interests. The serious lack of resources and difficult access to rights - increasingly considered as privileges - have had a deep impact on relationships inside prison, also as a consequence of the adoption of new laws. If some ritualistic attitudes and discourses are still present in the daily life, some behaviours highlight a deep change in the relationships among inmates and between inmates and staff/external people.