“Meeting my family, calling my friends, bumping into strangers, going to the beach”

I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to explain what it is really like in prison to those who have no direct relationship to friend or family on the inside.  I’ve probably made mention before of the “guaranteed to get my hackles raised” quote of “yeah, well prisoners have it easy, three meals a day, warm cell and a tv” so it was with interest that I read about the 6 men locked away for a year and a half to simulate a mission to Mars.

If you think about it, their experience is not dissimilar to a prisoner.  Three meals a day, warm bed at night, companions to chat to, they even had access to Twitter, email and video blogs, so admittedly they were slightly better off (!).  So what did they say when they got out.  Here’s a quote from one of them from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15574646.  Mr Urbina told BBC News via Twitter: “Meeting my family, calling my friends, bumping into strangers, going to the beach.”  I’m going to print out those words and stick them on my fridge.  What he was saying was – he missed his freedom.

Of course the “astronauts” got fed and watered but you have to think what you do on a daily basis before you can even comprehend what going into prison is like.  It is extremely easy to get angry with the prison system and say that it’s an “old lag’s club” but for the vast majority of petty (or before you all start shouting) not so petty criminals, being in prison is more than the sum of its parts.  I get up every morning, when I like, but normally when my alarm goes off to go to work.  I wander downstairs in my dressing gown, have a cup of coffee that I have chosen, breakfast cereal that I like.  Catch up with any emails, have another coffee, have a shower – on my own with my own nice smelly shower gel.  Dry myself on my nice dry fluffy towels ….. you get the picture – go through everything you do in the morning, now think of doing them communally and at a time dictated by someone else.

Don’t think I’m trying to say that prisoners have a tough life, I’m not, I’m just pointing out that sometimes there is more to our lives than three meals a day, a warm room and daytime TV.  There’s freedom and when that is removed, that is your punishment – so go on, educate someone you know today!

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