What’s it really like in prison?

There was a classic article in the Sun the other day http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3875982/Prisoner-living-in-the-lag-of-luxury.html which raised my hackles no end, but on reflection, it’s just another angle from the  “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” brigade.

I don’t know the statistics, but I’m sure I speak for the majority of prisoners in that they do not ” have it easy”.  It’s easy to imagine those in prison as terrible people who have tried/succeeded in harming innocent victims one and all.  There are other crimes though, in which morally you’d take the side of the guilty party.  It’s easy to scream “give ’em bread and water” when you hear about someone who has murdered, but what about those inside who made  a terrible error, who sincerely regret their actions.  What about people in genuinely sad situations who can see no way out of a predicament and resort to committing an illegal act.  I’m not going to come up with any examples, you just put your mind to it, I’m sure you can think of things.  Someone has done something bad, no-one got hurt, but it was illegal – they go to prison.  You feel sorry for them.  Should they too be eating bread and water whilst awaiting the electric chair, or do we have another sentence for those who we feel slightly sorry for?

You cannot tar everyone with the same brush I’m afraid.  The law is the law, there’s no morally right or wrong, it’s just legal or illegal.  I can think of several cases where someone did something wrong, have gone to prison, but they are repentant and on release live a full life well away from the wrong side of the law.

For the record, my husband has access to a swimming pool, a gym, has his own TV, a bed, three meals a day and all the free time a person could possibly wish for.  So is he enjoying life?  Well, no.  Although a swimming pool is within the grounds, this does not mean if he feels like it, he can pop on his budgie smugglers and flip-flops, go towel in hand for a dip.  Actually since being inside (now two months) he has never been in the pool.  I don’t know why they have such a facility, but it is not a health spa open 24/7.  The gym he has been to.  He is allowed access at certain times of the day.  He’s lucky, as an over 50’s inmate, he gets a special time for his exercise. Again, he can’t “pop to the gym” when he feels like it, he has to request and go at certain times.  His TV he has to pay for and I sent him in bed linen for his bed (it is supplied, but given the choice, I sent stuff in).  I have also sent him in a plate, mug and bowl for his food (to replace the plastic tray he is allocated) and any day now he will be able to request metal knife and fork to replace the plastic utensils.

He has his own towels for showering – communal – but must purchase any other toiletries from the Prison shop.  Although he now has his own room, this is not you may or may not be surprised to learn, en suite.  But it’s not a long walk to the loo.  And the other inmates do keep it as clean as they can.

Meals seem to be taken early so that the routine can be over and done with as soon as possible during the day.  The majority of his day is spent in “education” that is attending various Health and Safety briefings, helping others with Health and Safety exams.  In fact, he spends the majority of his time fiddling around in a paper-based institution.  There are chitty’s to be completed to walk to get your post, to order your week’s food, to collect any belongings you have requested – and there are limits of what he can ask for.

Prisoners are allowed Play Stations, with a fixed amount of games, but not computers on which to type (I understand that having internet access is a no-no).  So Mike’s pastime of learning Excel has to be done via a book – interesting.  Must be like learning the piano without a keyboard – I wonder if he has made up a QWERTY keyboard out of used Visiting Orders?

I’m not asking for sympathy – just giving you some facts in case you are interested.  The worse, worse thing for many a prisoner is the fact that family and friends are only allowed one and a half hours a week of visiting time.   For many this is the most brutal part of prison life and often it is totally overlooked by the media and those who gratuitously comment.

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