This Crack Game

19 Feb
Copy of my canteen sheet

This is a copy of a prison canteen sheet.

This prison’s full of crack dealers, ‘Rock Shotters’ to some. It leads to the imprisonment of young unemployed kids who see it as an opportunity to earn their way out of the sink estates they grew up on. It leads to the imprisonment of those who rob, mug, thieve and cheat their way to pay for their addiction. Crack and Heroin addiction as well as it’s supply is responsible for creating 80% of the inmates in the UK prison estate. It’s no wonder Government’s throw resources to smash the infrastructure of these rings. But for every dealer removed another will take it’s place, in a vaccuum of violence or natural selection, the supply remains unhindered. The addictive nature of these drugs, mean for every addict you remove from the market, another will take it’s place.

Huge sums of money go into fighting this problem and longer sentences won’t curb the problem. Do you think tougher conditions will change the mindset of a man prepared to pick up discarded cigarettes to make his own.

“Tougher conditions in prison won’t change his mind, as his skin crawls with the escaping toxin filled sweat, a sign of a man in withdrawal. As he picks up a discarded bottle on a cold winter’s night from behind a dumpster. One that last night was filled with a spirit, more turps than beverage. Smashing it upon the side of the metal bin, he creates the key to unlocking his current jam, his future fix. A sharp spike remains where the belly of the bottle was, he shuffles his damp and darkened carcass, towards that shop in the evening darkness. He draws no breathe for nerves at the doorway of his solution. No profound remarks or parting statements, monosyllabic, he’s focussed.

The £20 quid from the till for the gaping knife wound in the shopkeepers neck, for the risk of a life imprison, to return to sleep in an alleyway of piss and needles; its fair game and his world. What was that about tougher sentences?

Back to the beginning of this post, I mentioned the ‘easy way out’ crime of dealing crack in the eyes of young lads in inner city slums. Imagine if all your customers in the real world, were that desperate for your goods or services as the caricature I drew here. The business is addictive too.

The amount of money thrown at dealing with this issue could be put to such good use at helping those who can and wish to be helped to live a normal life. There’s just no money for it.

Sunday Lunch

In prison, apparently we only get Chicken left-legs. I don’t know where this rumour has come from and wonder if I’ll find out the truth of the matter. Today for lunch though, we have frozen roast potatoes and a chicken left leg. The gravy is little more than brown water. But it’s better than eating it all dry. Once or twice a week we are given a pudding. Today it’s rice pudding, I add flavour to it by squirting in a couple of sachets of ‘Imitation’ Jam that we get each morning.

Sunday afternoon drags, we have no association and the rest of the day will be spent in our cells. The long slow day is interrupted by the arrival of the canteen forms, which we can peruse, fill in and return tomorrow. Delivery is Thursday, I need more coffee.

Anthony get’s wound up when the orderlies pass them through the door as he only has £1.50 on his sheet, safely seperated by solid steel, the worker chucks a cruel jibe along with it. I feel for him a little as mine is nicely topped up the money I had in my suit pocket on sentencing.

The list is double sided, features my available spending amount, calculated fromy weekly prison wage and weekly allowable amount to spend from any private money I have. As a standard regime prisoner, not to be enhanced for 3 months, I am allowed to spend £15.50 of my own money each week. This can be saved to accrue a larger amount.

I enjoy this task, its nice to occupy your mind scouring for items of interest to you alone. I begin the order with £10 phone credit to bring me closer to those on the outside, then start to look at the more tangible items.

I could consider an afro-comb for a £1 or even ponder on some hair styling with the ‘Hair Gel Firm’ that comes in at 56 pence. I reason however, that neither are sensible uses of my money. Nor for that matter are leather prayer socks (£6.22) or a Shia Muslim prayer stone. (£14.14) Religion certainly isn’t cheap. I calculate that at present rates, I could order 72 Freddo bars for one prayer stone…

Prisoner’s are classified in one of 3 incentives categories dependant on recent behaviour. These are:

-Basic – Punishment regime – deprivation of canteen/tv etc

– Standard – The entry level for all inmates

– Enhanced – This can be attained after 3 months and includes extra visits and pay

The I&EP (Incentive and Earned Privilege) Scheme is a way of managing prisoner’s behaviour by using a carrot and stick strategy. Your status reflects upon how much money can be spent weekly. Additional money can be sent  into prisoners by sending money order’s or cheques in. Cheques take an age to clear and all money must be addressed and payable to ‘HMPS – Her Majesty’s Prison Service’.

After many draft versions I settle on the following:

(Prices relate to cost per unit)

– 1 pack of Economy Safety Matches – £0.15

– 1 pack of Incense Sticks (20) – £1.02

– 1 Jar of smooth Peanut Butter – £1.85

– 4 Tuna Chunks with Brine – £0.95

– 1 tin opener – £2.67

– 1 box of 50 Green Tea bags – £1.79

– 2 bottles of orange squash – £0.65

– Roll on deoderant (Aerosols banned) – £0.81

– Shave cream – £1.52

– Lypsyl – £1.23

The ‘Lypsyl’ felt a luxury but there is nothing worse than having chapped lips and no way to remedy the matter. I crave green tea and some kind of soft drink, while the tuna chunks will allow me to make sandwiches with the armfuls of bread that is dished out at mealtime.

There is a duvet available on the canteen sheet at £30, so I save £7.50 this week in the hope I will be able to afford some comfort in forthcoming weeks. Dinner comes in the form of a cold packed dinner – delivered to the door. I put my chicken pasta to one side, take a look in the brown bag that accompanies it – Bingo bar (Fraudulent Penguins), apple and crisps – then take a nap for a couple of hours.





One Response to “This Crack Game”

  1. Terri Mellor (@terrimellor) February 19, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    Bingo Bar.. thats what my boyfriend seems to get every night with his tea!

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