Vocabulary > Justice > UK > Prison / jail
Illustration non signée.
Locked in the past
The common sense view is that prisons work.
But the evidence suggests they are
outdated and costly. Is it time to abolish them?
David Wilson The Guardian
Wednesday February 15, 2006
in jails raises fear of violence
prisons > corruption
The Guardian > Special report > prisons
HM Prison Service
Scottish Prison Service
Wormwood Scrubs photographed by Bettina von Kameke
Photographer Bettina von Kameke spent time
inside Wormwood Scrubs prison, north-west London,
observing inmates' daily rituals.
Her aim was to present the human aspects of their everyday routine,
common to all human life, both outside and inside the prison.
Howard League for Penal Reform
deaths in custody
jail > racism > Zahid Mubarek killing
build / manage
Holloway, Britain's largest women's prison
women in prison
the Pentonville report 2006
REPORT ON AN
UNANNOUNCED FOLLOW-UP INSPECTION OF HM PRISON DARTMOOR
17 – 21 SEPTEMBER 2001
HM CHIEF INSPECTOR OF PRISONS
mentally ill inmates and a record number of children
constitute a significant part of the prison population
Steep rise in jail terms
sends prison population to new high
prison overcrowding / overcrowded prisons / crowding
super-size jails / super-jails
jail suicides 2007
jail overcrowding > suicides
prison > redemption
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan
Williams > the Government’s penal policy
Martin Narey > head of prisons for
England and Wales
tagged offenders > break curfew rules
prison overcrowding > curfew and electronic tag
convict / con
a scheme called Storybook Dad/Mum
helps parents in prison to record stories on tape or CD for their children
Newbury youth court
youth prison suicide
teenage prison suicide
prisons / child jail
Inside Keppel: finding freedom in a children's
prison April 6, 2012
The Guardian has been given exclusive access to a unit in West Yorkshire
trying new ways to reach the most disturbed children
Broadmoor high-security hospital
open prison / jail
abscond from an open prison
jail population in England and Wales
Belmarsh in south-east London,
Britain's maximum security prison
Durham women's centre / the only maximum
security prison wing for women in Britain
Strangeways prison, Manchester
The Maze Northern Ireland
prison for life
Comforting a death in prison
jail / gaol
suicide toll in British jails
prison > mentally disturbed
people > suicide
offenders suffering from mental illness
inmate / prisoner
music in prison
do the crime don't
do the time
prison drugs counsellor
The home secretary, Charles Clarke,
plans to create a network of community
Do our experts agree that this will reduce reoffending?
Mark Gould The Guardian Society
in denial of murder IDOM
miscarriage of justice > Robert Brown
William Towers’ charge sheet.
TNA: PCOM 2/290
Victorian prisons > William Towers > Prisoner
Life in Victorian prisons
Life in Victorian prisons >
Wandsworth prison > Oscar Wilde's Letter to the editor of The Daily Chronicle
28th May 1897
child prisoner 1870
population hits record high
in England and Wales
Growth in prison population following riots
means parts of the system are becoming 'human warehouses',
Alan Travis, home affairs editor
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 13.46 BST
on Friday 19 August
It was last modified at 14.04 BST on Friday 19 August 2011.
population in England and Wales has hit a record high of 86,654 following the
courts' decision to remand hundreds charged with rioting and looting in custody.
The Ministry of Justice said the prison population had risen by 723 over the
past week. Officials are making contingency plans to accelerate the opening of
new prison buildings and bring mothballed accommodation back into use.
There are currently only 1,439 spare useable places left in the jail system, but
prison chiefs say they remain confident they have enough to cope with those
being imprisoned by the courts in relation to the recent riots.
"We are developing contingencies to increase useable capacity should further
pressure be placed on the prison estate," a Prison Service spokesperson said.
It is thought the plans include opening accommodation at the new Isis prison
next to Belmarsh in south-east London earlier than expected, and bringing back
into use a wing at Lewes prison, East Sussex, which had been closed for
refurbishment, back into use.
The Prison Service said that it had no plans to reverse the decision to close
two prisons - Latchmere House in London, and Brockhill in Redditch - next month.
"We are managing an unprecedented situation and all the staff involved should be
commended for their dedication and hard work during this difficult time," said a
Prison Service spokesperson. "We currently have enough prison places for those
being remanded and sentenced to custody as a result of public disorder."
The use of emergency police cells known as Operation Safeguard is the normal
safety valve when the Prison Service is running out of space, but this is not
currently a possibility as police forces need to keep holding capacity on
standby to deal with further possible disturbances. The pressure is particularly
acute in London, where inmates are being moved out of the capital to other
institutions in order to free up space.
Geoff Dobson, the deputy director of the Prison Reform Trust, said the rapid
increase in prison numbers meant that some parts of the system were "becoming
human warehouses, doing little more than banging people up in overcrowded
conditions, with regimes that are hard pressed to offer any employment or
education. The likelihood is that for some first time offenders that will
provide a fast-track to a criminal career."
His concerns were shared by Paul McDowell, the chief executive of Nacro, the
crime reduction charity, and former governor of Brixton prison, who also warned
that rehabilitation work to tackle reoffending would simply go by the board as
jails tried to cope with the rapid rise in prisoner numbers.
Labour's prison spokesperson, Helen Goodman, said she was becoming increasingly
concerned about the remaining capacity. "The violence that was seen on the
streets of Britain last week must be punished, but the Tory-led government also
have a responsibility to ensure that the sentences handed down are being served
safely," she said.
"Since May last year this Tory-led government has scrapped the prison building
programme and closed four prisons, which has reduced prison capacity even
"The prison population has reached a record high and prison and probation
officers are being increasingly overstretched. It is vital for public safety and
for security in our prisons and the youth secure estate that prison and
probation staff get the resources and support they need," she said.
Prison population hits record high in England and Wales,
Clarke: prison is a waste of money
prison numbers unsustainable, says justice secretary,
media for creating image that prison life is easy
This article appeared on p4 of the Main section section of the Guardian
on Saturday 16 April 2011. It was published on guardian.co.uk at 01.30 BST
on Saturday 16 April 2011.
The rate of
jail sentencing is "financially unsustainable", the justice secretary, Kenneth
Clarke, has said, delivering a defiant riposte to critics within his own party
and the tabloid press who have suggested that his plans to overhaul the penal
system are soft on crime.
Clarke last year unveiled a green paper on sentencing as part of government
plans to cut the £4bn prison and probation budget by 20% over four years,
promising to end a Victorian-style "bang 'em up" culture and reduce high
reoffending rates by tackling the root causes.
But after facing sustained criticism, he used an interview with The Times to
dismiss characterisation of him as a minister who is "soft on crime."
He is preparing to publish a bill next month which will include proposals to
allow for large sentence discounts in return for early guilty pleas and
diverting the mentally ill away from jail. The goal is a 3,000 cut in the record
85,000 jail population in England and Wales in four years.
"[The rise in prison numbers is] financially unsustainable. That is not my
principal motivation but it is pointless and very bad value for taxpayers'
money," Clarke said.
He blamed the media and lobby groups for helping to create a public perception
that prison life was easy, adding: "Prisons are not hotels, they are not
comfortable, they are overcrowded, they are noisy. Anyone who visits a prison
soon realises the prevailing atmosphere is one of stupefying boredom on the part
"It is just very, very bad value for taxpayers' money to keep banging them up
and warehousing them in overcrowded prisons where most of them get toughened
He said that too many prisoners sit idly in their cells when they could be doing
something more productive with their time. "I would like to see prisons where
there is a working environment, where people get into the habits of the rest of
Private firms would be encouraged to operate in jails and help endow inmates
with skills that would make them employable when they entered into free society
"The firms are cautious about advertising it because the newspapers write them
up as 'employing jailbirds'," he said.
However, Clarke did pledge to make community punishments tougher by insisting
offenders do unpaid work for eight hours a day.
"I want them to be more punitive, effective and organised. Unpaid work should
require offenders to work at a proper pace in a disciplined manner rather than
youths just hanging around doing odd bits tidying up derelict sites," he added.
Kenneth Clarke: prison is a waste of money, G, 15.4.2011,
Prisoners on indeterminate sentences
'left in limbo' over
Call for fast-track review of thousands of inmates
who are judged to be still a
risk to the public
Sunday 31 October 2010
This article appeared on p6 of the Main section section of the Observer
Sunday 31 October 2010.
It was published on guardian.co.uk at 00.08 BST
on Sunday 31 October 2010.
The government should fast-track the parole hearings of almost
2,500 prisoners who have served their minimum sentence but are still being held
in jail for "public protection", a leading barrister has said.
Peter Lodder QC, chairman-elect of the Bar Council, said there were fears
prisoners could face a "Kafkaesque" situation where they had no idea when they
would be released. He warned that the growing numbers placed on indeterminate
sentences threatened the "contract" between prison staff and inmates that
ensured the smooth running of jails.
"One can see how for prisoners in this situation, where there is no light at the
end of the tunnel, there is little incentive and a great deal of frustration,
and that is what leads to the harm to emotional and mental wellbeing," Lodder
"If you have an ordinary sentence – a determinate sentence – then one-half of
that sentence will not be served upon the basis that you are well behaved. That
is an understanding – a contract – that makes sure prisons run smoothly. On
these [indeterminate] sentences, there is no such provision."
Lodder, who will take over leadership of the Bar Council in January, added:
"When you disenfranchise people to such a significant extent… you are bound to
create a resentment."
Sentences of imprisonment for public protection – or IPPs – were introduced in
2005 for offenders deemed to be dangerous. They carry no automatic right to
release and 42% of the 5,500 prisoners serving such sentences have now passed
their minimum tariff. Lodder said the sentences were introduced as part of a
"The government needs to accelerate the parole reviews for prisoners in this
situation. [It] needs to consider whether once these prisoners have served the
minimum term they can be released, and what appropriate and speedy mechanism
there can be to facilitate that," he said.
He appreciated there would be concern if those who were released reoffended,
"but what should not happen is that there is a disproportionate fear of one of
these prisoners reoffending or a disproportionate reaction when one of them
does. In other words, [the government] need political nerve."
One of the problems was a "risk-averse culture" on parole boards, Lodder said,
because of the difficulty in proving that someone was no longer a danger.
Others warned that prisoners were suffering from mental health issues as a
result of uncertainty over their sentences. A report by the Sainsbury Centre for
Mental Health found that more than half of IPP prisoners have problems with
"emotional wellbeing" and almost one in five receive psychiatric treatment. Many
told researchers the lack of a release date to work towards had damaged
relationships with family and friends.
Dominic Williamson, chief executive of the charity the Revolving Doors charity,
which offers support to offenders, said many felt left in "limbo".
Paul McDowell, the chief executive of Nacro, the crime-reduction charity, said
of his time as governor of Brixton prison in south London: "I have a vivid
memory that one of the most common things was people coming up to me and saying:
'I am an IPP prisoner – there is nothing I can do, I feel trapped in this cycle
and I can't get out of it.' Those sort of sentences were ill-thought-out, rushed
through, a kneejerk reaction to a media storm. They are grossly unfair and not
in the tradition of British justice with its fair-play approach."
The Ministry of Justice said it was carrying out a full assessment of sentencing
and rehabilitation policy, including IPPs. A spokeswoman said: "There is no
question that we must protect the public from the most dangerous criminals in
our society. However, we must also ensure the courts have the power to make the
right response to stop people committing crime."
indeterminate sentences 'left in limbo' over parole dates, G, 31.10.2010,
Overcrowded jails 'at panic stations'
February 24 2008
Jamie Doward, home affairs editor
This article appeared in the Observer on Sunday February 24 2008
on p2 of the
It was last updated at 01:55 on February 24 2008.
overfilled jails are at 'panic stations' as they lurch from crisis to crisis,
the chief inspector of prisons warns in an Observer interview today that will
make uncomfortable reading for the government.
At the end of a week in which the prison population rose above the critical
82,000 mark for the first time, Anne Owers said she was not sure how long the
system 'can contain this kind of huge pressure'.
'It's very bad,' Owers said. 'As you hit each new peak, the prison system is
bumping against a new crisis. For the last six months we've been looking at a
system that moves from panic stations to just about containing crisis.'
She warned that disturbances within the prison system were rising as a result of
overcrowding. 'My impression is the level of incidents in prisons is increasing
- an indication of a system operating too near to the knuckle,' she said.
Owers normally confines her comments to her annual reports, but her decision to
speak out reflects the level of concern about overcrowding. 'Prisoners are
getting very frustrated; staff are struggling to survive the day. That's not a
good recipe for running prisons. It's a very risky situation.'
She was scathing about the current situation, signalling that it was the fault
of successive ministers. 'You wouldn't start from here if you wanted to create a
decent prison system,' she said. 'This is a result of decisions taken - or not
taken - a long time ago.'
The frank comments by the government-appointed Owers reflect growing concerns
that the situation in Britain's jails is out of control. The Conservatives'
prisons spokesman, Nick Herbert, said her comments should be a wake-up call for
the government. 'Jack Straw [the Justice Secretary] must come to parliament
tomorrow to explain how he is going to deal with this crisis of the government's
own making and what provision he has made for emergency capacity,' Herbert said.
The prison population normally falls over the half-term period, when fewer
judges are sitting. But it has risen for two successive weeks, leaving Straw
forced to make a coded appeal to magistrates to consider alternatives to jail
Straw's dramatic intervention suggests the government has at least in the short
term ruled out expanding the use of early-release schemes for prisoners,
something it introduced last year in a bid to alleviate overcrowding. He
suggested instead that magistrates hand down more non-custodial sentences.
But that call has prompted anger in certain quarters. 'We see big problems with
provisions for both the prison and probation services,' said Cindy Barnett,
chairman of the Magistrates Association. 'We already use community penalties far
more than custody.'
The Probation Service warned that it did not have the resources to handle a
sudden influx of offenders if they are diverted from prison to community
sentences. 'Both probation and prison are full,' said Harry Fletcher of the
probation officers' union, Napo. 'Unless the government finds funds to support
probation and prisons, sentencing will be completely undermined.'
Experts suggest it is only a matter of time before the government is forced to
release more prisoners early.
Overcrowded jails 'at panic stations', O, 24.2.2008,
Britain's longest-serving prisoner dies
November 20, 2007
longest-serving prisoner, John Straffen, who was sentenced to hang more than
half a century ago, has died in prison. Straffen, aged 77, was convicted of
murdering a schoolgirl in 1952 and admitted killing two others, but his death
sentence was commuted because he was "feeble-minded". The Ministry of Justice
said last night that Straffen had died in Frankland prison, County Durham,
yesterday after an illness. He was believed to be on a list of around 20
prisoners, which includes the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, who were never
to be released.
who was born in Borden in Hampshire and lived briefly in India, where his father
was posted in the armed forces, was living in Bath at the time of the murders
and was known to police as a petty thief.
Arrested in 1951 for the murders of nine-year-old Cicely Batstone and
six-year-old Brenda Goddard, he was found unfit to plead because of his mental
incapacity and sent to Broadmoor high-security hospital. He admitted strangling
both girls and had threatened to kill a third. He escaped for four hours, during
which he was alleged to have murdered Linda Bowyer, aged five. Straffen was
convicted of her murder at Winchester in July 1952 and sentenced to death. His
case was reopened in 2001 after it was claimed that he was not fit to stand
trial. He admitted killing Cicely and Brenda, but always denied murdering Linda
Britain's longest-serving prisoner dies, G, 20.11.2007,
Brady deserves the right to die with dignity
says their life has become intolerable, we have to listen when they want to end
November 18, 2007
serving his 42nd year of detention since his conviction for the torture and
murder of five children, with his infamous Moors murderer partner Myra Hindley,
thinks that enough is enough. He is about to try - again - to be moved from
Ashworth secure hospital, where he has been force-fed for eight years, to an
ordinary prison where the practice is disallowed and where, therefore, he would
be able to starve himself to death.
There would be, it is fair to say, few tears at his passing; none the less, he
won't win. Doctors will simply repeat the customary trick under such
circumstances and declare, in a catch-22 manner, that he must be mad to want to
die and we can't let madmen kill themselves. So be it; let him suffer. However,
little as we might care for Brady, because we - as represented by our prison
services - are in control of his actions and restrictions thereof, his case does
shine an especially focused light upon our wider attitudes to the matter of an
individual's right to die.
difference between Brady's case and the debate over assisted suicide is only one
of degree: whether it is the provision of a poison that a man may freely choose
to drink or whether it is merely allowing a man freely to choose not to drink at
all, in both instances it is 'we' who do or don't make available the means of
death. And leaving aside the minority of people who are implacably opposed to
any intervention intended to hasten death, among the rest a consensus has snuck
up on us without any apparent discussion: 'we' seem to have decided not only
that there is just one circumstance within which such intervention is acceptable
- that is to say, when life becomes 'intolerable' - but also that there is just
one kind of pain that so qualifies, that which is both physical and terminal.
Lord Joffe's failed attempt to make legal some forms of assisted suicide was the
meticulously titled Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill; it wrote in the
requirement of a terminal illness and a prognosis of 'death within a few months
at most'. The famously liberal approach of the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland,
currently seeking new premises after being ousted by hostile neighbours, still
also requires evidence of physical and terminal condition to satisfy Swiss law -
although Ludwig Minelli, the human rights lawyer who founded Dignitas in 1998,
has argued against that law: 'You can't say, and you shouldn't say, that
mentally ill people should not have human rights.'
Further, he believes that psychological pain can be just as wrenching as
physical suffering: 'There are cases of long-term chronic mental disorders that
defy treatment. And many of these people have long periods of lucidity when they
are capable of deciding for themselves.'
Quite so. And to the list that must start with incurable clinical depression or
the rigours of extreme schizophrenia, most of us can probably add a potential
horror that we might decide is, if only for us, 'intolerable'. For Brady, it
happens to be four decades of incarceration. For some, it is a grief that
carries the certainty that only the individual can know, and nobody should dare
presume to deny; that not one day, ever, will be happy again. Last week we felt
the agony at the inquest of Joanne Coombs, who flung herself under a train at
the spot where her daughter similarly died; last year another mother, Satwant
Kuar Sodhi, also fell beneath the wheels that had killed her daughter Navjeet.
My own projected nadir, for what it is worth, would be staring into the abyss of
recently diagnosed dementia; the relief of knowing that a legally prescribed
magic bottle was snuggled safely to hand would be matched only by the hope that
I would know the exact moment when all the stalling medication had done its best
and it was time for the big swallow.
Aha, you say, but suicide is already readily available; there is nothing to
prevent you dropping from the edge of Beachy Head whenever you like. But this
disregards the importance of the manner of death: although some cannot move
unaided, by far the majority of people who have made it all the way to Dignitas
in Zurich could also have made it to Beachy Head. Tormented people seek release
in a gentle death - especially, studies show, women. Only a relative few hit the
railway track; many others have sufficient aversion to a violent end that they
dangle for years between what is, to them, an unbearable life and an unbearable
Thanks to the experience of Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Oregon and a
truncated experiment in Australia, we know now that the gentle death is
possible. This is not to say - I really am not trying to be silly here - that it
should be made easier than last resort; you don't pull a swift pint of
barbiturate headbanger for a guy who's had a bad week in the office.
Nevertheless, it should not be beyond our civilised ken to listen to somebody
who repeatedly and consistently declares, over a prolonged period, a wish for
the means of the gentle death without displaying the appalling arrogance that
says: 'Sorry, but you have the wrong kind of pain.'
In Brady's case, where his death would not even be particularly gentle, I hope
that minds are eventually changed and he is given the chance he wants - not for
what it says about him, but for what it would say about us, his jailors. It is
35 years since Brian Clark wrote of the man who fought to flee a long, pain-free
but 'intolerable' future in his television play, Whose Life is it Anyway?. After
all this time, we don't seem an inch closer to an answer; it would be worse
still if we ever stopped asking the question.
Even Ian Brady deserves the right to die with dignity, O,
no justice in a 'jugging'
who attack other inmates may see themselves as heroes,
but Erwin James regards them as deluded and cowardly
July 26, 2007
"prison justice" is cruel, brutal and, as the recent assault on convicted "dirty
bomb terrorist" Dhiren Barot demonstrated, cowardly.
reportedly scalded by a fellow prisoner in HMP Frankland, Durham, presumably
because of the "unacceptable" nature of his crime. Such an act, known on the
landings as a "jugging," is a classic prisoner-on-prisoner attack and is the
easiest choice of violent action for the least discerning attacker.
Prison-issue plastic jugs hold about a litre of liquid. A quick fill from the
landing boiling water dispenser (there to facilitate the making of hot drinks)
and the weapon is loaded. To make it more effective, sugar can be added. This
ensures that the scalding liquid will stick and effect longer-lasting damage.
Typically, a jugging is mounted from behind, often while prisoners are queuing
for meals, although a better venue for the more craven used to be the landing
toilet recess before the introduction of integral sanitation.
Waiting until the target was sitting with trousers around ankles and head bowed
below the half door straining for privacy, as well as for relief, provided the
perfect opportunity for the perfectly gutless to wreak agony and injury. With no
upfront confrontation and little chance of any defensive retaliation, a swift
swing and tip of the jug and "justice," along with a perverted sense of
satisfaction could be achieved.
But who are these individuals who take it upon themselves to inflict pain on
fellow prisoners? And on whose behalf is this extra punishment delivered? The
answers lie in the prison hierarchy, the most insidious product of the primitive
It used to be that armed robbers, especially those who ambushed security vans,
were the elite residents on the prison wing. Sex offenders, particularly those
whose crimes were against children, were at the bottom of the scale.
During the past 15 years or so, however, ever since hard drugs began to infect
and undermine prison regimes, major drug dealers have taken over as the wing
But while sex offenders still inhabit the lower ranks of the pecking order, it
appears that they may have been joined by those convicted of bombings and bomb
plots, people such as Barot, who was convicted last year of plotting to blow up
Taking a swipe at those on the lowest echelons of the hierarchy has
traditionally been seen as a legitimate response by the "ordinary decent
criminal" types to crimes that society in general finds particularly abhorrent.
It is a view reinforced by gleeful tabloid reporting of such incidents whenever
they happen (examples include the face slashing of mass killer Dennis Nilsen and
the blinding with a pen of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper).
Perpetrators cite society's contempt to justify their actions - the absurdity is
often lost or conveniently overlooked. They are not, of course, the paragons of
virtue, in the main being people also convicted of serious crimes and who
invariably fail to give their victims a chance to fight back. And anyway, once a
person has been convicted and sentenced to a period in prison, for whatever
crime, nobody but nobody serving time alongside that person has any right to
take it upon themselves to inflict further punishment, whether it be a jugging,
a stabbing or a slashing.
The deluded who do so are no heroes, neither are they champions of decent
values. At best, they are misguided pathetic characters perhaps corrupted by the
prison culture. At worst, they are fearful, timorous cowards with not a chance
of ever achieving any real hope of redemption for their own sins.
Despite the horrific nature of Barot's crimes and those of other high-profile
offenders who commit the most distasteful crimes, nobody outside should take any
comfort from such incidents. And the prison system needs to look hard at ways of
undermining the negative prison culture that breeds the twisted logic that leads
to their undertaking.
There's no justice in a 'jugging', G, 26.7.2007,
A day inside [ part I ]
The prison system is in crisis.
Our jails are bursting with convicts and
crumbling with age.
At least, that's what the headlines tell us.
But what is
daily life like for the 80,000 people locked up
- and for the 25,000-plus who
work with them?
For this G2 special we talked to 42 people about one day last
week - from Category A prisoners whose escape would endanger the public to
Category Ds trusted with their own keys; from a money-launderer jailed with her
baby to a teenager who caused death by dangerous driving; from the head of the
prison service to a father whose son died in custody
Monday March 12, 2007
Gina Westaway, 51
Senior prison officer in the care, support and reintegration unit, HMP Styal,
Checking our list of self-harmers was one of my first duties, and I noticed
that there was a "code blue" on a female prisoner yesterday evening. She had
tied a ligature round her neck, and an officer went into her room and cut it
off. Self-harming is an issue in our unit - in February we had 140 incidents.
The women break the plastic cutlery to cut themselves, or rip up the sheets to
tie ligatures. What we try to do here is to keep them busy. When I arrived at
7.30, the prisoners were having their breakfast. They are given any medication
afterwards, and at nine we start moving them to their education classes or work.
The ones who stay in the unit clean their cells or have a bath before going
outside to the exercise yard. They have their lunch at about 11.45, and then go
back into their rooms. At 1.30 we move them to education or work again, and some
go to the calm room, a therapeutic place where they can have their hair or nails
done, or just relax. Female prisoners are much more dependent on the staff than
male prisoners. The women have specific worries about their children and
families and can get quite distressed. They are in their rooms again at four,
where they have a radio (and will soon have television). Dinner is at five, and
between six and seven they have association time. At eight they are back in
their rooms. The job is stressful, but I love it. Sometimes I wonder, looking at
the prisoners, why they are here in the first place. Many of them are eventually
moved to secure hospitals. They are vulnerable women with a lot of problems. If
I am lucky I leave around 5.30, but I can be in the unit until 9.30.
Tufal Akthar, 23
Serving four years at HMP Cardiff
I got up at half past seven and the doors were unlocked at quarter to eight. I
put down my food choices for later in the day, had a shower, had breakfast,
exercised and then at 8.30, I went to work. I have three jobs: as a cleaner on
my landing, as a server of food and as a "listener". A listener is someone who
is trained to listen to other prisoners' problems. We can't help with anything
practical, but we can give them advice on how to deal with things. Loneliness
comes up the most. People when they're first here don't know what to do. We
break the ice. After lunch you get two sessions for visitors - my mum came to
see me today. And there are gym sessions four times a week. You come back from
work at 4.30; people who serve the food are let out at 5.30, dinner is at 6,
then prisoners are banged up 8. The food is OK; there's halal if you want it.
I'm a Muslim, and on Wednesdays and Fridays there are facilities for worship.
Boredom is the big problem. There's a library open three times a week. I read
faith books; Islamic books. I'm all right.
First ever day in prison. Serving 12 months for deception at HMP Wandsworth,
It's better than what I was expecting. I was scared. I expected it to be more
austere, and that people would give me unpleasant looks. I woke up at 7.40
today, but waited until my cellmate was up before putting the telly on. He is
also a first-timer, and had been advised not to speak about his crime. Some
people do, some don't. We had a cup of tea and waited for somebody to open the
door to let us out. I was surprised by how decent the facilities were - three
individual showers, for example. I expected to be freaked out here, but feel
quite matter-of-fact about it all. My cellmate is having a more difficult time,
and I've been trying to calm him. He's a smoker, and I'm not. But he's sensitive
to that and smokes by the window, which I appreciate. We got lunch at 12. Tuna
bake, rice and broccoli. Again, it was pretty good. After lunch we were locked
up. In the afternoon I was moved to another cell. The new guy I'm sharing with
also smokes, but he's not so considerate. That could be an issue. I'm pretty
intolerant about smoking. I've been surprised by the amount of people who have
offered help - mostly prisoners. I hope to be out of here within six months.
There is zero chance of me reoffending - no way am I coming back here.
Paul Saunders, 43
Search officer at HMP Whitemoor maximum-security prison, near Peterborough
I arrived as normal at eight. There was a meeting in the security department
where the intelligence gathered over the past day is discussed. We know who the
players are. There's a hierarchy on every wing. We do late searches and early
searches, depending on the intelligence. When we search, we'll arrive at a
prisoner's door or collect them from work. First, we give them the opportunity
to tell us what they have. Everyone is strip-searched but we don't touch them -
they remove their clothes and we search hems and seams. If the intelligence is
good we ask to "squat" the prisoner. It is up to him if he squats. He will go
down on his haunches so if he is what we call "cheeking" something it will fall
out. It's not something we relish. It's degrading for both parties and
embarrassing, but unfortunately it is warranted, given the way these individuals
secrete stuff. Sometimes prisoners have items hidden higher up but we don't do
intrusive searches. We can only wait and monitor them until something comes out.
We always check their cell in pairs. We're not thugs; we don't go around
smashing stuff. We leave the cell as we would like to find it ourselves. We
usually have a little laugh with the prisoner and tell him the only thing we
haven't done is make his bed.
Phil Wheatley, 58
Director general of the prison service, based in London
I arrive in the office at 7.40 to face an overflowing in-tray, which I have to
go through very carefully. Within it there are difficult decisions to make and
problems to examine, so I can't afford not to read through everything. Managing
a service with 80,000 inmates means I can't leave things hanging around. I
abandoned breakfast years ago and make do with fruit before I leave home. Once
the in-tray is complete, I go into a series of back-to-back meetings. Much of my
work at the moment is dealing with the overcrowding. There have been substantial
increases in population, which means many of the prisoners have to move around a
lot. Lunch is a sandwich at the desk, which I bring from home and eat while I
work. The big things that worry me are tight resourcing and full prisons.
However, much of my time is spent pointing out that there isn't a crisis in the
prison service. The rate of absconds and assaults has come down and we are
coming in on budget. By six, I am getting ready to leave the office. But I
always carry my bleeper with me.
Paula Curtis, 24
Serving eight months for money laundering and having fake documents, HMP
I was pregnant when I came here in September and was put in C4, a unit for
pregnant women. After my daughter Simi was born, I went to D4, the
mother-and-baby unit. There are 10 of us on here, with babies ranging from
newborn to eight months. Then you have to move to another prison, which takes
mothers and babies up to 18 months. My day started at 6 - that's the time my
baby wakes up. The officers come around at seven and say good morning; you have
to be ready by 7.30 and then you have breakfast. After that, my baby goes to a
creche and I have classes from nine. We can study for qualifications. My
favourite class is art: I'm learning how to make a baby blanket by sewing
together different patches. I'm also learning how to cook for my baby. She's my
first, I want to get it right. We break off for lunch at 12, then from two you
can go back to education or stay on the unit with your baby or go to the gym.
The creche is nice, with toys. We have dinner about five and there are five or
six choices, including vegetarian. It's not bad. At eight we go to our rooms. I
have a toilet, a single bed and my baby's crib in my room, as well as a telly
and a cupboard. People can send you bed covers, so you're not using prison
stuff. I've got another 11 weeks to go.
Liam Bailes, 19
Serving four years for causing death by dangerous driving, at Swinfen Hall young
offenders institution, Staffordshire
I've got a working-out placement, so I get a wake up call at seven and get
picked up about 8.30 in the prison minibus and taken to the Acorn charity shop
in Lichfield, where I work until 4.30. It's a massive relief to be out there, it
speeds time up, and it's a relief to talk about different things. We get back at
five, and are strip-searched on the way in. The first time it's very daunting,
but by now I'm used to it. You take your top off first, put it back on, and then
your bottoms, and you can get it over quickly. I'm back on the wing by 5.15 for
tea, and from 6.15 onwards it's associative time: you're expected to socialise,
to play pool and have a chat with your mates. After a few months I started to
think there were only so many games of pool I could play so I started doing
library orderly duties and mentoring other young offenders. It gave me a bit of
an insight into teaching, and I think when I get out that's what I want to do.
At eight we get locked into our cells. It's up to us when we turn our lights off
- I usually read or watch TV until about 11. It does get lonely sometimes. If
you've had bad news, or a bad day, once that door closes you think, "I wish I
had someone to talk to." When I started my sentence, back in May 2005, I thought
a lot about how much time I had to go, and about the accident - about being
responsible for it, about what people must be thinking of me. There was no
malign intent with the accident. I just didn't think about what I was doing.
Since I've been inside I've always conducted myself properly, and never caused
trouble for anyone else. It's the demons inside that you can't get away from.
David Bulman, 49
Father of Ronnie, a 19-year-old who died in custody while awaiting trial.
Tattooed his face after the inquest
I got up at six, made a cup of tea and went immediately to the computer to see
if any government bodies have responded to my emails detailing the concerns I
have about Ronnie's death, in July 2005, at Castington young offenders
institution. No responses today, so I started scouring the internet looking for
email addresses of high-profile people who take an interest in the prison
system. When our son was remanded in custody, we thought that at least he would
be safe. How wrong can you be? I have another cup of tea at 11 and start writing
to people who don't have email addresses. At midday I start looking up different
cases of deaths in custody to see what similarities there are to Ronnie's death.
Then on to the prison service's website to see the rules for checking prisoners
during the night. Staff should get a "verbal or facial response", but when
Ronnie was checked at 4am we know he had vomited down his shirt and would have
been gasping for breath. The alarm was not raised for more than four hours. Have
something to eat and start writing more letters, looking for solicitors who will
apply for a judicial review and/or try and take our case to Europe. Go to bed,
knowing that today's routine will continue until we get the truth about how our
Kenneth Hanson, 54
Literacy mentor and laundry orderly. Serving 11 years for drug importation, HMP
Unlocked at 8am as normal and shot down to the laundry to get the first wash on.
I had breakfast at the same time; multitasking. I have one mentee on our reading
programme (organised by the Shannon Trust) and he is profoundly dyslexic. He is
the most challenging I have ever had. He arrives at nine and we read for about
an hour. I saw him just after he arrived from HMP Leeds and I realised he
couldn't read the menus. Now he can read his daughter's letters. I am doing an
Open University degree in social science and I work while doing the washing. I
made a decision when I received my sentence that I was not going to waste the
time. I had lunch at 11.30 - jacket potato and chicken supreme - and we were
back in cells at 12. Unlock was at 1.45, and I went back to the laundry. Tea at
4.30 to five and we were banged up again at five until 5.45 and free
association. People played table tennis and snooker. At 7.45 we were banged up
again until the following morning. I studied a bit, watched TV, did a bit of
modelling, my hobby. I am Category B. Maybe at the end of March I will be
downgraded to Category C. I get on with other inmates; if I have learned one
thing, it is that they would really take it badly if their washing was to be
mixed up. I make sure it never happens.
Duncan Hallam, 45
Doctor, HMP Lancaster Castle, Lancaster
I arrived at Lancaster Castle - which is in an actual Norman castle - at eight.
I've been treating prisoners here for nearly 12 years now. I collected my keys
and went through to the healthcare department, where I asked the nursing team if
they'd had any problems over the weekend. There had been an assault, and the
alleged perpetrator had been put in segregation. There were four other men in
there: one who'd had a falling out with someone on his wing and didn't feel safe
there, and three who were being punished. It was an unusual day in that only
four patients had booked in, two of whom didn't turn up, and two of whom were
late. Usually I get about 10. Generally, two of those will try to persuade me to
prescribe opiate-based medication, and at least two will have a mental-health
problem. Seventy per cent of prisoners have some mental-health issue, usually
depression. You also get untreatable personality disorders; sometimes it's
difficult to tell these apart from treatable psychiatric illnesses. We treat a
lot of hepatitis C and smoking-related ailments. Fights do happen, so we get
black eyes, bruises, bite-marks. There's the occasional allegation of rape. For
me, the hardest to deal with are the patients who persistently self-harm, the
ones who cut themselves, attempt to hang themselves, or swallow razors. Some
have been on drugs since they were 12, and have terrible backgrounds, and you
think, "This chap had no chance." I'm regularly faced with manipulative
behaviour, and sometimes you have to be quite firm. Once I had a desk turned
over on me, but that's the worst that has happened.
Bekir 'Dukie' Arif, 53
In the 10th year of a 24-year sentence for drug distribution, Whitemoor maximum
security prison, near Peterborough
Another interrupted night's sleep; the night screw, who must wear size-18 boots,
given the noise he makes, shone his torch in my face every hour. Unlocked at
five to eight and I made an application for money to go on my Pin numbers, so I
can make phone calls. Called to labour at 8.55, checked off the wing with a
rubdown and metal detector. The work - breaking up used CDs - is about as
mind-numbing as it gets. Finished work at 11.10am, checked back on wing, then
exercised in a small yard - totally inadequate. Gave my lunch away, as usual,
then back to work in the afternoon. Locked up until just gone five, then
association till 7.10 before lock-up for the night. My big concern right now is
that my daughter visited me regularly until she was 16. Then she was deemed an
adult and had to be security cleared. Up to now, this has taken 19 months, which
was when I last saw her. This is my own daughter, remember.
Graham Kerridge, 41
Cat C officer, D wing, HMP Wayland, Norfolk
At 8.20am we unlocked the prisoners. Once everyone was out of their cells they
went off to work. Wayland has immense training facilities. You have prisoners
coming in with no qualifications and leaving with Open University degrees. There
are bricklaying courses, plumbing courses, everything. We then collated the
prison roll to make sure no one was missing. I did my core duties on the wing,
which involved making sure the cleaners were working, undertaking security
searches and checking that the prisoners' parole papers were up to date. I'm the
personal officer to about 12 prisoners - I got to know them personally when they
first came onto the wing. Every day I sit down with one of them and help him go
through his paperwork, try and facilitate visits etc.
You build up a rapport. You get to know about their family life. I f you spend
time with the prisoners it makes your day that much easier. Most of the
prisoners just call me Mr K and there's very rarely any trouble.
By about 11.30am the prisoners fi nished working and went to the exercise yard
for half an hour. I patrolled the wings until they returned to their cells for
lunch. I then went to the staff room to eat before heading to the gym. We use
the same facilities as the inmates - it's a top-class gym - and it's not unheard
of for offi cers to work out with the prisoners.
The prisoners came back from work at 4.30 and got locked up straight away. At
5.30 they had a recreation period where they were allowed to play snooker and
watch TV, then at eight everyone went back in the cells. We collated the roll
again and I went home just after eight. I enjoy my job from the time I get into
work until the time I go home.
Anne Owers, 59
Chief inspector of prisons, London
I arrived to the usual flurry of emails. One was about an event I went to
concerning people in prison who have learning disabilities. Another related to a
trip to Poland to talk to their ombudsman and look at their prisons. We have
many things in common, such as overcrowding and the challenges of monitoring the
prisons. Our system is generally regarded as a model for how to do it. I looked
at a letter from the west Yorkshire coroner. I gave evidence there last week at
the inquest of a mentally ill young woman who killed herself. The fi gures are
startling. Women are 5% of the population but account for over 50% of the
Later in the day I signed off a press release for a report on Edmonds Hill
Prison, Suff olk. I produce 74 inspection reports a year but only about half a
dozen get any publicity. When I give a prison a good report, which happens quite
a lot, I tell them that the bad news is that hardly anyone will get to hear
about it. There have been huge improvements in prison healthcare, education and
training, but with the population at this level I worry if it can besustained.
Maybe we will look back and say this is as good as it got.
Eduard Ngienga Lukombo, 33
Asylum-seeker awaiting deportation with wife Angelina, 29, Ashley, 4, and
Joshua, 11 months, Yarls Wood removal centre, Bedfordshire
We wake at seven to feed the children. I try to go back to sleep but thoughts of
how we were snatched from our home in Glasgow invade my mind. A friend
telephones; he is worried about the children. I try to get them to change my
wife's medication - they took hers away when we came here and the replacement
isn't working. Likewise my daughter's medication for eczema.
At noon I try to pray but cannot concentrate - images of us being forced into a
van and taken to airport come back. We were taken off the fl ight at the last
minute, but I can hear the screams of the other Congolese being forced onto the
plane. My son has had constipation ever since we came here. Both children, who
were born in the UK, are confused and cry all the time. This behaviour is not
their habit and my wife is not able to handle the new personalities they have
acquired in detention. In the afternoon I sit gazing out of the window. I get a
call from my pastor who encourages me to hope in God. At 10 pm we go to bed, but
my eyes stay open. The family were released at the end of last week.
Sandra M, 30
Criminal justice link worker for the Prison Advice and Care Trust (Pact), HMP
It's my job to offer practical and emotional support to women on their first day
in prison, both women who have never been in custody before and those who are in
on new charges. On a busy day we might see as many as 23 prisoners, but today
was quiet - only 10.
One woman I saw was a tearful single mum who had just been sentenced to three
months for not sending her kids to school, and had never been prosecuted for
anything before. When she went to court she had told her four children that she
was just going to the shops, so none of them knew she was in prison. When I
called her oldest daughter, who was 21, they were both very upset. Like a lot of
people, her idea of prison comes from Bad Girls, and she was worried that her
mum would get beaten up. Then I called the woman's sister to see if she could
look after the younger children.
Two of the prisoners were foreign nationals, one a Chinese woman on remand for
having forged documents and one a Pole in for burglary. Neither could speak
English and were very puzzled as to why they were there. So with the help of
some prisoners who could speak their languages, I was able to explain the
situation and make international phone calls to inform their relatives.
Alison Adams, 56
Chaplain, Glen Parva young offenders institution, Leicester
The day begins with the first person coming in, lighting a candle in the chapel,
saying a prayer and checking the answerphone. You might have had a call from an
anxious parent or a prisoner wanting to come and talk. A big part of the job is
to do receptions - there are two of us, and one sees every prisoner as they come
in. I ask them simple questions like, "Did you sleep last night?" or "Do your
parents know you are here?"
This afternoon I did some music teaching. We have a band and I was struck by the
development in self-esteem of one individual. He said he had not played for ages
and wanted to keep it up when he got out. One played a tune he had written
called Glen Parva Blues. It had us all tapping our feet. I also spent some time
in the segregation unit. Sometimes they are just glad to see a face - it's not
easy being isolated. I took a rosary for someone who wanted that.
We have a capacity of 808 in Glen Parva. Around 46 attended chapel on Sunday and
40-odd Friday prayers. Tonight I took Bible study. Imagine exploring the issue
of forgiveness with a sex offender or someone who has committed GBH. We have
some very interesting discussions. I tend to go home at about 8pm, having
started at 8am. It's hard work but I love it.
A day inside, G > G2,
A day inside - part 2
The prison system is in crisis. Our jails are bursting with convicts and
crumbling with age. At least, that's what the headlines tell us. But what is
daily life like for the 80,000 people locked up - and for the 25,000-plus who
work with them? For this G2 special we talked to 42 people about one day last
week - from Category A prisoners whose escape would endanger the public to
Category Ds trusted with their own keys; from a money-launderer jailed with her
baby to a teenager who caused death by dangerous driving; from the head of the
prison service to a father whose son died in custody
Monday March 12, 2007
Gym orderly, two years into a seven-year sentence for manslaughter, HMP
I stabbed my abusive partner on the spur of the moment. Prison has saved my
life. When I came in, I didn't care if I lived or died. But I've had a lot of
help and am now as happy as I can be, given the circumstances. For almost a year
and a half I've been working as an orderly in the prison gym for around 48 hours
I'm a recovering alcoholic and before coming to prison I didn't look after
myself, but exercise has really helped me. When I'm on the treadmill I don't
even feel as though I'm in jail. On Monday I worked at the gym all day and in
the evening I revised for my exam - I'm training to be a gym instructor. Then I
read a book in the bath (I live in a house with 19 women, so we have bathrooms)
and was in bed asleep by 10.30. On weeknights I like to get an early night,
because the governors and other people high up in the prison often come to work
out in the gym in the morning and I like to give a good impression.
Male prison officer, 30s
High-security unit, HMP Belmarsh, London
My shift started at 7.30 this morning. You have a briefing first of all, and
then I was a gym officer this morning. That just means the prisoners are allowed
to go to the gym, and I monitor the session. Then they go for showers, and we
have another session. There's not usually any hostility; I get on with the
prisoners quite well, on average. Then there's lunch and a debrief, and after
lunch I was on the spur [living quarters ] for the association and exercise
period. It starts with exercise - they get an hour in the exercise yard from
just after two until just after three - and then they have association time,
which is time to clean up their cells, make phone calls to families, friends and
solicitors, or play pool, table football, that sort of thing. That lasts until
4.30, which is the start of feeding.
One of the things that makes this job different from a lower-security prison
would be the sorts of checks we have to do. The frequency of searching, for
example. This is a high-risk unit within a high-security prison. Most of them
are on remand for Category A offences (importation of class A drugs, firearms
offences, murder, terrorism) and have the ability or resources to escape. That's
our main concern. People are quite intrigued by the work I do. I don't make a
habit of telling people, but when I told my family they were quite shocked, I
Tessa Lovington, 70
Independent monitor, HMP Onley, Warwickshire
About 11am, a prisoner threatened to break the chaplain's neck. The chaplain
pushed one of the alarms and everybody came running. He was surrounded very
quickly. In that sort of case, our job is to observe, which I did - the prisoner
was being very bolshie.
I spent the rest of the morning dealing with the blue forms that the prisoners
put in boxes on each wing. Many are about lost property, especially trainers
which seem to cost £500. My job is to investigate these complaints. A lot of the
property gets lost in the gym, or when prisoners are transferred. One of the
other forms was from a chap who was complaining about having his privileges
removed - he had been an enhanced prisoner, which means he is allowed a
television in his cell, to associate with other prisoners and to go to work on
the prison site, for which he gets paid. But he had these privileges withdrawn
for threatening an officer with violence. I looked at his complaint and, I have
to say, I thought revoking his privileges was fair and I told him so. There is a
lot of violence towards prison officers.
Being such an old buzzard, the prisoners don't give me any trouble. They call me
madam or your worship - I used to be a magistrate, you see. But whenever we
visit the segregated wing, where 15 people are held in solitary confinement, we
are always accompanied by a prison officer.
Phil Forder, 53
Arts interventions manager, HMP Parc (a private prison)
My main role in this job is to deliver a course called The Art of Living, which
I put together. It is for groups of prisoners, six at a time, and I've just
finished one today with a group on the vulnerable-prisoner unit, who tend to be
sex offenders. Today, which was the last day of the course, I brought in a huge
piece of paper and had all six men paint one huge painting together in silence.
I did have some men who came into the group challenging everything I said just
for the sake of it, and one of them stood up at the end, after getting his
certifi cate, and said, "I came into this course feeling very negative about it
all, but that has changed." I thought, oh wow! That was really nice to hear.
Prisoner X, 62
Child-sex offender, HMP Albany, Isle of Wight
I get up at 5.30am, when the prison is very quiet. It's a good time. I have my
first mug of tea and settle down to my Open University assignment on Foucault
and Wittgenstein. At seven, an eye appears at the "judas hole", at 7.30 the
doors open electronically and the noise begins. Put the Jazz on DAB. Costcutting
has replaced cooked breakfast with tea bags, powdered milk, sugar and cereal.
Radio 4 news. Lots of banging accompanies the men going to workshops.
At nine I start working on my case for the Criminal Cases Review Commission, but
my only real chance of justice is if those who lied at my trial develop a
conscience. I am not far into 15 years; mostly for things that never happened,
more than 20 years ago. After lunch I read for my PhD proposal for the Open
University (the use of language in false convictions). At 5.30 I try to go to
the gym, but there aren't enough staff to open it so I play pool, badly, for an
hour. At 6.30 we're locked up. I do a bit more work on my OU assignnment and my
novel. I watch Question Time on TV, then go to bed.
Raymond Lewis, 49
Prisoner, three weeks from release, HMP Blantyre House, Kent
It's not been too bad today. I work as a cook in a care home, so I had to get up
at 5.30am to get the house bus into Staplehurst, followed by the 7am bus to
Maidstone. Then I start work at 7.40, and finish at four in the afternoon,
before getting the buses back to the prison. It's all I've been doing for the
past year: work and sleep, work and sleep.
I was in the merchant navy for 30 years, though, and that was harder than this.
I'm only cooking for 24, when I used to cook for 300 on the boat. And because I
was in the navy all those years, I was also already institutionalised, so it has
been quite easy for me being in prison. I just look at it like doing a long trip
on a boat. I was sentenced to seven years for importation of ecstasy, and I'm
going to be released on parole after three and a half on March 27. To be honest,
I don't know where the time's gone . But that's because I've kept myself busy.
On my first day out, I shall buy a couple of things for my flat. I've got a TV,
but I want to get a little DVD player too, because there's about 300 movies I
want to watch.
Helen Rinaldi, 45
Governor, HMP Elmley, Isle of Sheppey
I have a 50-minute drive in to work, and then I make a cup of tea and we have a
quick operational briefing. Many mornings we'll have prisoner adjudications - if
there's been a fight, or someone's failed a drugs test, or been found in
possession of something they shouldn't have. It's like a miniature court
hearing, except that makes it sound a bit grand. The prisoner can call
witnesses, and the burden of proof is the same as in the criminal court. If
you're involved in a fight, for example, you might find yourself having a period
of cellular confinement - two or three days, maybe a week. You'd like these
things to be a rarity, but when you're packing 985 guys into a relatively small
space, there are going to be tensions. My main focus today is a high-profile
visit we've got tomorrow, including two people from Lord Carter's prison service
review. He's trying to see if there are any more efficiencies that can be
squeezed out of us, so we're keen the visit goes well, and that we don't give
them the impression we're lavishly funded! Because we're not.
When I tell people I work in a prison they always say, "Oh, which female prison
do you work in?" I don't want to sound sexist, but I think being a woman in a
male prison is an advantage. The average prisoner will be fairly respectful of a
female, and women staff as a whole bring a nice balance to what's historically
been quite a macho culture.
Deaths in custody are up there among the worst parts of the job. You feel so
much for the family and the relatives but it has a massive impact on the staff
Fran Jane, 31
Serving 9½ years for drug importation, HMP Styal, Cheshire
I woke up at 7.30, had a shower, got dressed, made my breakfast. We have roll
call around eight each morning but the officers don't tend to wake us up; I have
my own alarm clock.
I live in a prison house - in many ways it's like a large house, except that the
front door is locked. There are 16 of us. You are free to move inside the house,
and we all have keys to our own rooms. There are also cells elsewhere in the
prison; the women doing detox or serving time for violent crime tend to go
there. This month I'll have done two years.
Every morning I do admin support for the distance-learning coordinator. We went
round to see the inmates in their units, checked how they were getting on with
their courses, that kind of thing. I came back for lunch about 11.45 and then in
the afternoon went to the "calm centre", where I work as an orderly. The girls
can come there for education, computers, arts and crafts, to have their hair
washed. I earn £10 a week for my morning job and £10 for the afternoon - that's
quite a high wage in here. I'm trying to put away £10 a week for when I get out.
Our house is self catering, and there are three of us who take it in turns to
cook; it was my turn so I did baked potatoes with fried chicken, onion and
tomato. Most people have groups of a few people who they eat with each night,
though at Christmas we all cooked a big meal together. It's a nice unit to be
on; in general we all get on pretty well. I finished dinner about 5.15 and got
ready for the gym. I go every day, mainly cardio stuff, because I'm trying to
lose some weight.
I got home about 7.20, had a shower and did my studies - I'm doing an NVQ in
business administration. I used to run a nightclub before I came to prison, so I
do have some management skills, which really come in useful. With a criminal
record I know it's going to be hard when I get out, so it's important to keep
learning. My family live in Devon now, so they don't get up to see me very
often, maybe once every four or five months. I do miss them, miss my freedom.
But in general this is a nice jail. I could be in a cell somewhere.
Laura Kerr, 55
Probation officer, Sheffield
I arrived at the office at 9am, and in theory my first appointment was at 9.30.
That person didn't turn up, however. Once I'd discussed his situation with a
manager, it was decided that we ought to go ahead and do the necessary
paperwork, so I spent the morning doing that, writing reports and risk
The man booked in for 10 did not come either. He is remanded on bail in a
probation hostel to protect the victims of his offending. I would have been
writing a report on him, but now I just issue a letter saying he's failed to
Given the pressure of work we're under, when people don't come, sometimes you
just think, thank goodness for that, now I can get on with all the other work. I
also fielded a lot of telephone calls today, such as one from a social worker
who has been working with someone with serious alcohol-abuse issues, compounded
by brain damage from a car accident. She was very concerned about the risk he
poses to other people and to himself. Then there was a parole clerk from a
prison telling me that someone had just been granted parole, which is one of the
good bits of news we get every so often.
Two of the less serious offenders who have been on probation for about a year
now have also done very well, so I'm taking their cases back to court to ask
them to revoke the order a bit earlier in recognition of their good progress.
I've been extremely busy, which is normal. I haven't mentioned half of the
things that I did.
Michael Parker, 53
Wing therapist, G-wing (sex offenders), HMP Grendon, Bucks
I got to work around 7.30am; our first meeting is a handover briefing from the
weekend staff at 8.30, but I like to be here early. I am a trained group analyst
and the most senior of the therapists on G-wing, working with 40 men, all of
whom are sex offenders.
At nine each morning we have a community meeting in which the inmates and as
many staff as are available discuss the business of the wing, chaired by one of
the inmates. One of the men was "winged", which means being held accountable for
bad or antisocial behaviour in front of the whole community. It is based on a
culture where you look at your behaviour and talk about it and take feedback
from the other men and staff.
At 11 I had an assessment meeting with one of the men to discuss the targets for
his behaviour. The idea is that the man talks about his offence and offending so
we can assess whether he genuinely feels any remorse or sadness. The magical
phrase is victim empathy. It's a hard one to come by.
I had lunch with colleagues, then a couple of business and administrative
meetings. At three we had a sensitivity meeting, in which we meet as a staff
team to deal with issues. In this role you are exposed to things that are often
quite disturbing, which is tough. I left about 4.30 after handing over to the
evening staff. I drove home, cooked and chatted to my family. I don't want to
say too much about my home life; I never talk about where I live. I once had an
ex-inmate appearing at the end of my road and I never like to give too much
away. I was in bed about 10.30.
The thing about working with sex offenders, even if our work doesn't massively
reduce people's risk of reoffending, it does give us a real window of
understanding into why it happens. A lot of these people have undergone the most
horrific experiences themselves. They find, oddly, that to do the same to other
people takes away the pain.
Juliet Lyon, 58
Director, Prison Reform Trust
At 8.30am I finished two reports to charitable trusts outlining PRT achievements
over the year. Our campaign with the Guardian managed to put a halt to
transporting pregnant women prisoners in "sweat boxes". We also helped to save
the post of chief inspector of prisons, which the government had proposed
At 9.30 our press and policy meeting concentrated on two big events this week:
the publication in Best and the Mirror of our SmartJustice opinion poll showing
strong public support for community sentences for women; and Wednesday's launch
by Baroness Quin in the Lords of No One Knows. This is PRT's new programme of
work with Mencap on learning disability and learning difficulty - a forgotten
world in prison.
At 11 I attended the Butler Trust award ceremony and learned about excellent
work done against the odds. After a brief meeting with the chair of the Prison
Officers' Association, I went to the International Centre for Prison Studies to
discuss our joint project on young offenders.
Back to the office at about 4.45 for a meeting with our advice and information
service. Today's calls were from prisoners trying to transfer closer to home,
and families concerned about mentally ill relatives in prison. At 5.30 our head
of policy and I discussed plans to alert people to the massive use of new
indeterminate public protection sentences and progress on corporate
manslaughter. It's extraordinary that government is trying to omit deaths in
custody from the bill.
In the evening, I was a panellist on the Anita Anand show on Five Live.
Eddie Gilfoyle, 45
Serving 15th year of a life sentence for murdering his wife (he has always
maintained his innocence), HMP Buckley Hall, Rochdale
I woke at seven to the same thought I have had each morning for almost 15 years
- will today bring news that will overturn my wrongful conviction? Get up, make
the bed, put the kettle on and shave while waiting for it to boil. Get unlocked
at half seven, more coffee, then work at 8.30. I am now teaching industrial
cleaning to other prisoners, having got all the qualifications. Return to cell
at 11.30, get banged up till dinner at 12.20. Try phoning my solicitor but can't
get through. Will ask a pal to pass message on.
Work in the afternoon, more bang-up, then tea and association. Phone friends and
family, have a shower before last bang-up at 8.45. Read a paper, watch TV.
People who know I'm innocent ask me what the worst part of this is. I tell them:
"My wife and unborn child died and I can't grieve for them until I'm free ...
and it might be too late then." Apart from that, it's the waiting.
Alan Meyer, 41
Catering manager, HMP Cardiff
By the time I arrive at 8am, four or five of my staff and 23 prisoners are
already prepping lunch. We have to feed 750 prisoners. The breakfast packs
containing cereal and bread for toast are sent out to the seven wings the night
before. Until six months ago, I was working in the forces and there isn't much
difference. Here they get five choices for dinner; in the forces they get seven.
For example, tonight they will get a choice of pork or vegetable chow mein, tuna
pasta bake, tuna pasta and mayonnaise salad and a sandwich pack containing an
egg roll, crisps and chocolate biscuit. For lunch, they get three hot choices -
faggots and gravy, vegetable pizza and spicy sausage pizza. We also do some
halal meals, as there are about 70 Muslim prisoners. They order the day before
so we can cook the right amounts. The menu rotates weekly for a few months
before changing. Tuna pasta bake is the most popular because most of them work
out in the gym and want the protein.
I spend most of the morning doing orders and checking stock levels. Lunch for
the prisoners is from 11.30-12. We then have an hour for our lunch before it all
starts again at 1.30. The officers usually go outside for lunch - they don't
have a canteen here any more. I usually leave at five, half an hour before the
prisoners have their dinner.
I have a budget of pounds 1.79-pounds 1.84 per prisoner per day. It is very
tight. We buy in things such as pizza bases, but we do make food fresh. We send
out surveys every few months to see what prisoners want. Basically, they want
chips every day and hate mashed potato. It takes three prisoners all morning to
peel the nine sacks of potatoes we need. That's one of the best jobs in the
kitchen, bar preparing the meat. But everyone starts with two weeks of "pan
bashing" [washing up] so I can see if I want them working in the kitchen.
Security is always an issue. All the knives are locked in a cabinet. They each
have a tag and whoever is using them has to have the tag number by them at all
A day inside - part 2,
A day inside - part 3
The prison system is in crisis. Our jails are bursting with convicts and
crumbling with age. At least, that's what the headlines tell us. But what is
daily life like for the 80,000 people locked up - and for the 25,000-plus who
work with them? For this G2 special we talked to 42 people about one day last
week - from Category A prisoners whose escape would endanger the public to
Category Ds trusted with their own keys; from a money-launderer jailed with her
baby to a teenager who caused death by dangerous driving; from the head of the
prison service to a father whose son died in custody
Monday March 12, 2007
Mark Drew, 39
Reception officer, HMP Wandsworth, London
I was on the early shift today, which starts at 6.30am and goes on until
lunchtime. The first thing we do is go up on the wings to collect prisoners due
in court that day. They're moved to holding cells before passing through
reception where they'll have a full strip search for any concealed items -
drugs, mobile phones, tobacco. They also have all their property searched,
x-rayed and logged. They will probably change into their own clothes, before
going through to another holding area where they wait to be picked up by police
We often have about 100 people passing through reception in one day, including
remand and convicted prisoners; each person spends about 15 minutes going
through reception. Experience tells you who will need more help to be put at
their ease. For those few moments, you sometimes feel like a father figure -
many prisoners come from broken backgrounds and have no fixed abode.
Around 8.30am, prisoners who need to go out to police stations are brought down
by wing staff and because London jails are so overcrowded we also have a fair
number due for transfer to prisons across the country. From 11.30 there's a
chance to catch up on paperwork before prisoners return from court and police
stations at midday. The reception process is repeated before inmates re-enter
the prison. The late shift take over from 1pm and work until 9pm. The prison
service doesn't get the credit it deserves; people think it is just a case of
opening and locking doors but our role is to rehabilitate and we're a
professional, hard-working organisation.
David Ramsbotham, 72
Chief inspector of prisons 1995-2001, now a campaigner on prison issues
I spent the day at Buckingham Palace for the Butler Trust awards for prison
staff and probation staff who have done particularly good or innovative work.
One of the members of the awarding panel told me that the seven days he spent
judging were the most inspiring of the last year. That's the upside. The
downside is that the parts are better than the whole. The prison service
consistently fails to turn the good practice for which these awards are given
into common practice. How many of the good things that are done in a prison are
still being done three years later? It depends on the governor. If he or she
goes, the good things too often go with them. I also talked at length to a
number of senior probation officers. I'm alarmed at the implications for them of
the offender management bill [the controversial plan to part-privatise the
probation service]. The bill is riddled with nonsense. If it's about setting
targets rather than allowing people to deal with people then you are doomed to
fail. It reminds me of when John Reid went to Wormwood Scrubs and criticised
probation officers in front of prisoners. That was the worst example I have ever
seen of poor leadership.
Prisoner Y, 40
Serving life under the two-strikes law for rape, kidnap and eight robberies,
Wakefield high-security prison, North Yorkshire
I woke up at 7.30, had a wash, tidied myself up and pottered about in my cell.
Unlock is around eight. I don't bother with breakfast, I just get a carton of
milk. Prison food is horrible. I cook my own stuff with four inmates - we all
put in money and share a "food boat". Around 8.30 I go to work as a cleaner.
I've done cleaning jobs in a lot of jails so I'd say I was pretty good. You do
not get security-cleared to clean on the wings with minimal staffing if you're
an idiot. I get paid pounds 18 a week, and spend pounds 12 of this on food -
mostly tinned stuff and fresh veg. I've met prisoners who are brilliant cooks.
You learn off the Asian guys how to do the curries and an Albanian taught me how
to do pizza.
I've been in prison most of my life. Most of my offences are drugs-related, and
for a long time I had issues with addressing my behaviour. This place has been
good for me. Before, prison was just an occupational hazard. When I left jail
after a stint, I'd say, "You'll never see me again", but I'd be back in six
months. Now I've done courses, had risk-reducing therapy and am about to do a
course for sex offenders so that I have a chance when I get out. At seven we are
locked up for the night. I write letters, watch TV, read and go to bed at 11-12.
For me, it's easy to be occupied. If you can't read or write, and you're not
into TV or music, you're in trouble. You'll get depressed and wound up.
The prison service has changed massively over the years. Gone are the days when
you sat locked up for 23 hours a day. Even the abuse has gone over the past five
years. The government or whoever has realised that the only way to stop people
coming back is to concentrate on offending behaviour. There's a lot of
psychology in the prison now.
I wouldn't say I was having a good time, but you've got to make the most of it.
My next parole opportunity is later this year, but realistically it's going to
be another three or four years before I get out. I'll have done 11 years then -
double my tarrif. As well as the drugs, a huge issue for me was anger. But it's
not a problem these days. Part of it is down to the courses, and part of it is
just growing up. I'm more mature now.
English studies coordinator in HMP Wormwood Scrubs, London
My job is a mix of teaching, organising projects and running the prison
magazine. I spent much of the morning working on a new facility called
"storybook dads". Prisoners with children read a book, which is uploaded onto a
computer, put onto a CD and sent to their child. The idea is to try to keep
families together - the loss of family plays a large part in reoffending.
I teach an English studies class in the afternoon. The literacy curriculum is
boring and banal, so I tend to adapt it. We have a high number of
second-language students because Heathrow is in our catchment area. The most
important element of prison teaching is related to self-esteem. When people come
to prison, the majority are at rock bottom, so when they come into your class
they expose parts of themselves that they don't when they are outside. On the
whole you see the best of them - they may well not be like that outside, but
here they are discovering a side of themselves and being respected for that.
It's a very stressful environment, but not from the way people might think it
is. Sometimes things happen that make you aware that you are in a dangerous
place, but I don't ever feel threatened in the education department or on the
wings. Most of the men are very respectful and in a dangerous situation most
would want to protect you.
Richard Vince, 37
Governor, HMP Preston
I arrived at 7.30 and got a debrief - first in the security department, then
from the orderly officer who would be running the jail for the day. We are a
busy local prison with 750 inmates, and have to get a lot of prisoners to and
from courts, so my first job is to make sure that's running smoothly. I then had
a meeting with my deputy governor to assess the new regimes we've just
introduced. We are starting more educational activities and lengthening the
"core" day to allow staff to spend more time with prisoners. At 9.15, I and a
dozen or so managers held our main operational meeting to discuss events over
the weekend. We talked about a young man who had been transferred here from
another prison because of behavioural problems. We also discussed releases for
this week - I need to make sure all public protection issues have been dealt
with. My staff reported on prisoners deemed to be at risk of self-harm or
potential suicide - 14 today - and we will give them special attention and
support. Between 9.30 and 11.30 I did the daily "governor's rounds" with the
orderly officer, visiting different parts of the prison. It's important to be
visible, to make sure prisoners and staff have access to me, and to listen to
complaints and suggestions. After a sandwich lunch, I met two of my senior
managers to discuss turning the old kitchen into a new activity centre that will
allow us to expand our educational facilities. You have to treat prisoners as
human beings. Our central aim is to reduce the risk of them reoffending.
Attiq Mohammed, 34
Prisoner on day release, serving eight years for possession with intent to
supply, HMP Kirklevington Grange, Cleveland
My alarm goes off at 5.45am as I have to be out to work by seven after signing
my licence. It's a dream at Kirklevington compared to the other prisons I've
been in - Doncaster and Armley (Leeds). I have my own room with en-suite shower,
basin and loo. We all have a colour TV, which costs us pounds 1 a week in
electricity. No one wants to throw these privileges away, especially as most of
us only have a short time before our release. I might be out by June.
Everyone here - about 230 prisoners - is working on the outside. I work at a
timber merchants as a retail sales assistant. I do a 40-hour week earning the
minimum wage. I had my own shop so I know what to do. I now have my own car to
drive to work. I have to be back by 6pm, but if there's traffic the wardens are
usually pretty understanding if I ring on my mobile and tell them what's
Once back I have to put my phone in a locker, then I go to the gym until 7. We
have tea from 7-7.30 and at 8 we have a roll check. By 9 I'm usually asleep. The
wardens come round about every hour to check everything's OK, but I've even got
my own key to my cell now.
Barry Smith, 42
Discipline officer, induction wing, Castington young offender institution,
Every day is different on the induction wing. It is the most important wing in
any prison. Every trainee who comes in goes into the induction wing so they can
get settled and know what the prison's all about. It's also a good time for us,
as officers, to keep an eye on them, and make sure they're coping. As soon as
they come in they're given a phone call to friends or family to say that they're
OK and we lay down detailed rules and regulations. The last thing I always say
to them is that if they respect the officers, we will respect them. You hope it
sinks in. This morning I came in to teach the juveniles, which I do part-time.
Most of these kids would truant when they were at school, so getting them to sit
in a classroom environment is hard to begin with.
I like to try to work my lessons around things that they're interested in - fast
cars, football and prisons, would you believe - so a lot of the time I'll show
them documentaries about prisons, which seems to keep their attention.
Today I taught a few lessons of English. We talked about them putting themselves
in their victims' shoes, getting them to discuss what empathising is. Then we
did a bit of role-play, where I put them into a situation where they're a parole
board. We're trying to get them to stand up and challenge their offending
behaviour. It went well today; it always goes well.
Deborah Coles, 44
Co-director of Inquest, which helps investigate deaths in custody
Early start, to attend the ongoing inquest for Gareth Myatt, a 15-year-old who
died while being restrained by three officers in a secure training centre. I met
Gareth's mother - I have been helping her and her lawyers with the case since
his death three years ago. Late and incomplete disclosure of documents is an
ongoing problem. The day's evidence exposes the high levels of restraint
regularly being used on children to gain compliance, a purpose the Home
Office/Youth Justice Board monitor accepts would be unlawful; that personal
items are being removed from their bedrooms to wind them up ("provoking"
children is also unlawful); and that children's complaints are being internally
"investigated" without anyone bothering to speak to the children.
It was all deeply upsetting for Gareth's mum, so I spent time talking through
her anxieties. I went back to the hotel at the end of the day. After a brief
call to my children, I spent the evening working on the case with the lawyers,
restaurant table piled with files. Ran into a family I worked with 10 years ago
after their 19-year-old relative died after 23 hours in Feltham young offenders
Tony Barr, 51
Head of offender management dept, in charge of resettlement, HMP Blantyre House,
My job is about resettling offenders, preparing the way to their release. The
main thing today was to have been a parole hearing for three lifers, but it was
cancelled as no judge was available. The prisoners were distressed so I spent a
bit of time talking to them.
It's tough trying to make sure things go well for prisoners after release.
They've all got chaotic backgrounds and you know the odds are stacked against
them. The main thing you have to think about is whether they will be a danger to
the public. And the truth is that you do all you can to assess them, but the
test comes when they are actually out. That's the aspect that weighs heavily in
my job. Ex-prisoners need support, but that's often difficult. The main person
they can turn to is their probation officer, but as that person has the power to
return them to prison, they may not always feel they can reveal everything.
Marilyn Welsh, 53
Head of safeguarding, HMP Werrington, north Staffordshire
The prisoners here are men aged 15-18. Most have spent most of their lives in
care; the average reading age is 7 1/2 years. In many ways, being here is more
an opportunity than a punishment; society has let them down, and this is a
chance to get them back on their feet.
My job is about prisoner safety. I started today as I always do, with a meeting
with other staff to discuss individual cases. We talked about a lad of 16 who is
going to become a dad. He has just been released and is desperate not to
reoffend, but like so many others there are big problems. He was especially
worried about being reunited with his mother, who he has not seen since the age
of seven. We decided to arrange for him to be seen by the community psychologist
so he has got some back-up for what's going to be an emotional and challenging
Later I talked to an officer about a prisoner we're worried about. Being locked
up is terrifying for a young teenage boy, especially when he first arrives. I've
got four sons. If they'd been up against what these kids have been up against,
would they have turned out any differently? The odds have been stacked against
them; they've known deprivation and disadvantage. If we're perceived as people
who just turn keys and forget, I can tell you that the reality here is very
Mandy Ogunmokun, 47
In-reach drugs worker, HMP Holloway, London I walked to work and got in about
7.15am and my first meeting is at 7.30 where we find out what has happened over
the weekend and what the day holds. I came back to the office and checked my
messages. Heroin, crack and alcohol are the biggest problems and we see the same
problems, and often the same faces, year after year. We see small improvements
in the clients, just little things about attitude or behaviour, but addiction
takes time to change.
At 8.30 we have a full team meeting which looks at all the issues for the week
and I get a list of clients. I spend a lot of time with clients. They are often
devastated when they come back in but I am always pleased to see them as it
means they are alive and I tell them that means there is still hope. At
lunchtime I popped out to grab a sandwich in Holloway. We had another meeting
from 1pm. About 70% of the women who come here are drug addicts so we are
central to what happens.
Peter Allen, 52
Serving two-and-a-half-year sentence for arson, HMP Elmley, Kent
I wake up at about 7.30 and get washed up and have breakfast in my cell. We're
all unlocked at eight and we can get hot water for cups of tea. Then we go to
our jobs. I had a few problems when I first got here. They found out that I've
got diabetes. And also I tried to commit suicide - there was a lot on my mind.
But I've been seeing a psychiatrist and a nurse who helps me control the
diabetes and things are better now. At the moment I'm working as an orderly down
in the segregation unit - that's the punishment block where prisoners go when
they misbehave. I do the cleaning, and I get on pretty well with the officers. I
keep my head down and I've got a clean sheet. I enjoy being an orderly actually,
and I might think about going on doing it when I get out.
Before I came inside, I was a manager and I had a two-hour memory loss. That's
when the arson happened. I can only vaguely remember it, but I did warn
everybody to get out, and nobody got hurt. Now they think that the diabetes
might have had something to do with it. I might be eligible for tagging soon. My
wife lives in Somerset, and she's hoping I get my tagging - she's not very well
herself, she suffers with depression. At five it's tea, then association and
then we're locked up at 7.45. It's quite easy getting off to sleep, I work hard
all day and with my diabetes . . . its another day done and that's it. Another
day off your sentence.
Steve Campion, 23
Serving nine years for false imprisonment, Wayland Prison, Norfolk
I'm a race equality liaison rep, and my day started with an induction for a new
prisoner. You've got to explain that we don't tolerate racial discrimination,
but you've also got to explain that there are a lot of differences and
misunderstandings in here.
I'm like most prisoners - I'm young and black and from London. Most of the
officers are white men in their 40s and 50s; they've never known black guys, and
there are a lot of cultural misunderstandings. The other day, some prisoners
were playing dominoes and they got really rowdy. The officers thought there was
going to be trouble, but the truth is that's just how Afro-Caribbeans play
dominoes! You have to explain things like that. This afternoon I had a hospital
appointment. I was cuffed to an officer and taken there by cab. It's
humiliating: you go through the hospital and everyone is looking at you and you
see mums with young kids looking frightened. It's horrible, really humiliating.
Seeing the doctor was difficult too. I've got a problem that would be
embarrassing enough if I had some privacy, but when you're handcuffed to another
person you feel really self-conscious. During my examination the officer put a
long chain on me, but it's hard getting your clothes off and the whole thing is
demeaning. I can understand why they have to follow procedures, but I think they
could take your circumstances into account. I've no history of violence since
I've been in prison, which was April 2005.
Becky Newton, 36
Prison Advice and Care Trust (Pact) visit centre manager and first night worker,
Before Pact existed, if you wanted to visit the prison you just had to queue up
outside the gates and wait in the rain for them to be opened. Now everyone who
wants to make a social visit has to come and book in via the Pact visitor
centre. Monday was quiet - just 20 visits. We can have up to 36. My job as
manager is to liaise between prisoners and their families, and put visitors at
ease by answering any questions they have. Yesterday I helped one woman whose
husband is coming out on a tag at the end of March and going to a probation
hostel. She wanted to know if she could meet him at the gate. Another man was
coming to visit his mentally ill son who was on remand, and he was concerned
after the visit that his son wasn't very well. I was able to make a few phone
calls and found out that his barrister was applying to a judge in chambers today
for bail, so could tell him that he might be out by 10.30 the next day.
Moulana Sikander Pathan
Muslim chaplain, HMP & YOI Feltham
My normal day is from about 9am until 6pm, but I have been known to be here
until about 9pm, running out before the gates get locked on me. We have three
shared offices, two primarily for chaplaincy staff. The other is the Roman
Catholic vestry/community chaplaincy office. I have four sessional chaplains
(who are also imams from the community) who come and help with our work. We see
about a dozen boys per day. There has been an increase in the number of Muslim
prisoners, though I prefer to call them boys, not prisoners. Nationally, it used
to be about 7% but now it's nearer 11%. I am one of very few full-time Muslim
chaplains in the prison service. The day is taken up with four basic chaplaincy
duties: receptions (seeing the new boys who have come in the night before),
dealing with applications, daily visits to the segregation and the healthcare
units. There are two types of visit: one is purely pastoral for your own faith
community, the second is a generic visit, and we encourage both. When the boys
come to prison and are going through a low patch (feeling suicidal, etc) quite
often they open themselves up to a chaplain who is then able to provide the
adequate support. I've been here for five years and it's nothing like the media
says. About five years ago the government employed the first Muslim adviser at
prison headquarters, and thatís when the changes really started. Occasionally we
get a boy who has come in for a heinous crime. Two or three months after coming
to service this boy will stand up and apologise just because heís been coming to
worship and an understanding of right and wrong. The difficulty is to continue
this when they leave, so we have started a Feltham Community Chaplaincy Trust,
which links the offender to volunteers/mentors in the community that theyíre
Serving 10 years for rape, HMP Albany
The first spyhole check was at 7am. At 7.35am I staggered to the washroom,
stepping over a rainwater puddle on the landing. I emptied my toilet bucket,
washed, then returned to my 7ft x 7ft cell. The hot water machine was broken
again. At least Radio 3 sustains me. At 8.20am "Down for labour!" resonates up
the hallway: since the intercom broke down three years ago E wing has developed
a shouting culture. While others go to workshops, I study for my OU degree. Did
my bowls course at 9am - that's something else I've learned in my four years
here. Unfortunately this time it was spoiled by barracking and silly arguments:
half the old codgers are deaf, the other half can't count. At 11.55am I
collected lunch and my Guardian, and at 12 I was banged up. Listened to Donald
Macleod on Radio 3, who helps me understand why I don't like Wagner. Lovely
letter from my wife, the 995th. We talked at 6pm, exchanged stories of our days.
Banged up at 6.45pm - listened to Mozart. Iím grateful I'm in a "four-star"
prison, otherwise I'd go mad. But what else could a psychotherapist convicted of
Pia Sinha, 34
Head of safer prisons, HMP Wandsworth, London
I worked in Wandsworth prison as a chartered psychologist before I took on the
safer prisons role. Wandsworth is unusual in having a psychologist in this
position. We always have meetings scheduled, but a lot of your work gets
diverted into whatever the crisis might be that day. The highest-risk group for
suicide and self-harm are first-timers in custody and those who are detoxing.
People are very frightened when they first come to Wandsworth because of its
reputation. We try to see the individual not just as someone who is coming to
prison because they have committed a crime but as someone who is dealing with
the impact of incarceration. It's a distressing time for them. Today we had a
learning and development programme, where high-risk prisoners get intensive
therapy. One of the prisoners was very anxious because he's got court on Monday.
He is someone who historically would be very worrying for us because he's an
impulsive character. He finds it very difficult not to react when he gets news.
This time he was able to convey to officers that he was very anxious and he'd
like to move to a safe cell at the weekend so he cannot harm himself.
June Marriott, 43
Head of education, Wormwood Scrubs
I managed to get a seat on the Central Line and grabbed some breakfast when I
got in, so all in all not bad. Then the first lot of students started arriving
and I had to help find them the right rooms - there were a couple who were lost.
I also had to make sure all the teachers had turned up and were in the
classrooms before anyone was allowed in. There were a couple of queries from
students, one about funding and another who was doing the wrong level course.
Then I had 30 minutes to go through 69 emails - you may have a plan for A to B
here but you nearly always end up going via X, Y and Z. The first lot of
students left and I had a couple of hours to catch up on other things. Today I
interviewed new teachers and I have a new deputy starting, so I was helping him
settle in. I even had time for a sandwich at my desk, which was an unbelievable
luxury. In the afternoon we have a similar routine of students and classes. As
far I am concerned the education service is the crux of the whole prison
service. We are trying to ensure that what's available on the outside is also
available on the inside. We are trying to offer these men a seamless transition
when they leave.
North-west coordinator for the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns
At 8.45am I went to the inquest of a prisoner found hanged at Harmondsworth
Removal Centre, where I spoke to a journalist who asked, "What's the hook?"
After that I talked to "Pierre", feeling awkward asking what implements
Congolese guards had used to torture him and if he'd been raped. He is
destitute, homeless and disbelieved. He asks how any immigration judge could say
that his "ill-treatment in detention" did not "amount to torture", considering
the Home Office describe Congolese prison conditions as "life-threatening",
synonymous with disease, hunger, abuse, torture and death. At lunchtime I bought
soap for "Jane", who can't understand why she has been detained for months even
though her asylum claim hasn't been refused. In the afternoon I took a call from
a mother with a screaming baby - totally desperate and inconsolable about her
husband's deportation tomorrow. Then I talked to a doctor about "Hassan", a
teenager who arrived as an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child, and the hunger
strike Hassan said he'd started. Then I tried to call a detainee but the
detention centre phone rang off the hook six times. Later that evening I emailed
my MP asking why my tax money is spent detaining men, women and children who are
not accused of any crime at an average cost of £1,230 a week when 47% of them
are later released.
Alphonsus Uche Okaf-Mefor
Nigerian asylum-seeker, Tinsley House removal centre, near Gatwick
I was allowed out of bed at 6am after another sleepless night. We are restricted
to our rooms between 11pm and 6am. I watched TV to take my mind away from my
problems. Breakfast at seven, but how can I eat when I could be dead soon?
Watched the news about the British kidnapped in Ethiopia; thought about the
Africans who, like me, were kidnapped in Britain. Asked about my medication -
they are still not providing it. Later I heard from my solicitor. The Home
Office has rejected a new appeal and the nightmares start again. He will apply
for bail and a judicial review. Why do they reject my claim when we have
provided photographic evidence of my Massob [Movement for the Actualisation of
the Sovereign State of Biafra] activities in Britain and the Home Office's own
policy is to grant asylum to members of Massob? Phone call from a supporter in
the afternoon. Am so thankful that there are people fighting for refugees. All I
wanted was to show people human rights abuses in Biafra/Nigeria. Now I will be
returned to become one of the abuses. Spoke to solicitor. He seems to be doing
his best. Nothing for me to do but hope and pray. Watched more television in the
evening, but the guards turn off the power at 11 o'clock. I complained that this
leaves me nothing to do. They replied: "You've only been here for a day and
you're already causing trouble." I try to sleep.
· Because of security and victim issues, some names could not be used.
A day inside - part 3, G
> G2, 12.3.2007,
miscarriage of justice
USA > Constitution /
Supreme Court / law / legislation
USA > justice
USA > police / justice > charges
justice > prosecution
USA > justice > first court appearance
USA > justice
> bond / bail hearing
> justice > indictment
USA > justice
justice > settlement
USA > justice > trial
USA > justice
> evidence, exhibit, testimony, witness
USA > justice
justice > juror, jury, verdict, sentence
> justice > appeal
justice > death penalty
USA > prison
> military justice