I was in prison for GBH. Part of my sentance was in a local category B prison. It was pretty intimidating. Don't imagine that it is like 'Porridge' with all the lags sticking together to fight the system... that's a load of cr&p!
Mostly it is full of scary people. The scariest are often the ones in for shorter sentences and petty crimes as they tend to have a more 'exploitative' criminal attitude. Some of the more serious violent offenders are sometimes much nicer folks (well... when they haven't had a drink!!)
There are loads of drugs in prison, it was the first time I saw heroin. Lucky for me drugs has never been my thing. The drugies can get really desperate and can bully weaker people in order to get their phonecards or tobacco (burn) to swap for drugs.
I sometimes felt so scared that I thought that I was going mad. I was guilty and deserved to be there.
I don't think standing in a cell or even entering a prison and pretending to be an inmate would really give you a real flavour of the experience.
Much of the experience of prison is an internal experience, a state of mind. Being an offender for real, knowing that you have a real victim is all part of it. Looking at the other prisoners and knowing that you deserve to be there with them.
Many inmates have really serious mental health problems. I think they would have been better off in a hospital. How can we talk about crimminal intent when a person is living in a completely distorted reality?
In the prison, mostly I had a cell mate, but sometimes not. I quite liked being alone, but even that can get to you after a while.
It was very dissorientating in prison. Most of my time (up to 23 hrs a day) we were locked up. This was over ten years ago, so no TV's!! The windows had a metal screen over them, so it was difficult to look out properly.
Later on in my sentance, I went to an open prison. I was totally bewildered for weeks. I could see flowers and grass and stuff. Everything seemed sparkly and unreal. It's hard to describe.
I was less scared in the open prison and had to be more organised. It was quite hard to come up to speed with that.
My last week in prison was strange. Suddenly I took on a calm, monastic feeling. There was a sort of peacefulness and security and I found the thought of going out a little overwhelming.
I left prison and went to work. I started having counselling and got VERY depressed, and anxious about leaving the house.
At the moment, I am in the process of completing a post-graduate level course in psychotherapy and work as a support worker.
Hope that helps you.
· 1 decade ago