Flash Forward

1 Mar

My diary has raised some resentful discussion on a prison guard’s forum. According to some there, once you’ve been convicted you have no right now or in the future to offer guidance on where prisons could be improved. It seems that in their eyes, they’re ALL doing a good job. Call me argumentative, but I’m sure that I could disprove that with a 5 second web search. Prisons are struggling, it’s why private companies are being drafted in to bring some much needed focus and drive. Little or no discipline, there is no preparation for life taught here. Here’s an inmate suggesting discipline and structure, you’d think I’d been advocating a lenient regime. I’m not and many of the ‘educated led astray’ who take this path in life, think the same. Prisoner’s love  a debate, we’ve got hours more than you have for it. Those that can read, do read. If you like to learn, now’s a great time to add more wisdom. I see things everyday in prison that the public would disapprove of, even the intolerant extremists. I’ve mentioned this prologue because its ironic that moments before I write the following, I come across this animosity.

The prison inspectorate indicates that 70% of inmates have some form of mental health illness, ranging from depression to paranoid schizophrenia. This is a sad fact and begins to explain why a ‘one size fits all’ approach to justice is flawed. I digress. Today we discussed this, George, Andre and I. Nev finds a man in his 30s, (Who by his own admission is too scared to leave his cell) he asks if he could be allowed to use the showers. Nev’s wondering why he’s asking him, surely he can just go, right?

No, he’s been told by other inmates to get out, as: “He smells too bad”. Surely his need for a shower should be met with acceptance if he is as unclean as stated. Today he has been on the hunt for new clothing, he has only one pair of ill-fitting joggers, no underwear, no socks and has just pissed himself. I can’t think of a more eloquent way to write that. It’s possibly not a moment for loquacious thought. He confides in Nev, that he couldn’t help it, he’s so scared. Now his bed, his clothes and his body smell, he’s a mess. His hair isn’t much better either. Its heartbreaking, how he had even the capacity to break the law let alone understand it, is beyond any of us.

“Why haven’t you asked the landing officer?” I ask. The chap stutters then utters:

“He said f-f-f*** off”

“Did you ask for new kit?” I try again.

He doesn’t answer, this time he cries. A grown man in his 30’s cries in the arms of an unknown prisoner. He only needed a change of kit, does it surprise the reader that those who obstructed him the most and encouraged his ostracism, were those paid to watch over him. Like it or not, Prison Guard’s have a duty of care, by failing in the their duty, they fail the public. A two minute task ignored, has sent a man already close to the edge, hurtling over it. It’s down to the wing orderlies to help him out. We get him in the showers, we hand him shower gels, change of kit, new bed linen, towels, even the odd treat. Within an hour he has clawed back a small helping of dignity. I’m moved, his tragedy of a life has been shone a little light courtesy of those deemed the scourge of society. Those who walk the wings in a prison uniform, here in E-Wing, today showed a dark side to their character that is every bit as revolting as some of the nasty people sent here from the courts.

What prison will do for this man, I have no knowledge.

‘To be so scared to leave your cell, to fear your guards/your handlers as well as your fellow cons; to be so isolated, to lack the mental capacity to deal with your social environment; it’s a scenario so depressingly sad, it hurts. A Daily Rag reader, may offer the usual gutter-tripe such a sentiment earns; that the man in question should remain within the law. I sincerely believe that just as they fail to understand the impacts of mental illness as little more than an excuse by the “PC Brigade” , this man, like so many others here, lack the luxury of rational thinking.”

That’s enough sad reflection for one diary entry, I promise the next one will have full frontal nudity and a chuckle, though hopefully not related.

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