I posted the same image I’ve used for today’s blog on social media and said, “An old thought process but one that shows punishment becomes the reward when it becomes habit. Prison can be, and is, subjective to the individual, so, if punishment becomes the reward, then what is the use of prison? #dodifferent
In response to my post, a friend, Dave Brown (who has a great podcast by the way, https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-b-t-detective/id1489368140) replied, “My brother-in-law was in and out of prison for most of his adult life, David. Every time he came out, we knew it was only a matter of time before he went back in. It was the only time he was warm, fed, was productive and had a sense of belonging.”
The last sentence, excuse the pun, really got me thinking and why I’m writing now. On a few occasions the warm and fed part did have shared priority, however, for as long as I can remember, being productive and a sense of belonging were the priority every time.
If you had the right mindset, money sent in, and a decent support network be it family and loved ones, peers, support workers or peers who are also support workers, then I must be honest and say, from my perspective, and a perspective where hindsight has proved to be its weight in gold, prison isn’t that difficult.
I’m not saying I didn’t have difficult moments in prison, in 2009 I had sunk so low I attempted to take my own life. It was a chain of events which led onto me taking the decision I did. Events exasperated by the fact I was in prison.
Prison has the power to leave you feeling helpless, as well as hopeless.
I’d like to think what I just said also highlights why a night out isn’t always the most rational choice but, in the circumstances, it may be the best choice. Some people leave prison with a drug habit having entered clean.
Hindsight wasn’t my only teacher in later life, as it wasn’t until the summer of 2020, during lockdown, and an interview with, sorry for the name drop, someone, as well as many other remarkable achievements, became the first woman to drive a World Rally Car, Penny Mallory, (https://www.pennymallory.co.uk/about) who spoke to me about the mental toughness it must take to serve a prison sentence.
I’ve also said and written a lot regarding Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory. I relate Maslow’s to my own prison journey in that prison met all my basic needs of warmth, comfort, food, security, companionship, and self-esteem. I was also able to reconnect with my friends and family. Regarding security the prison walls also keep people out. The self-esteem came from the roles I covered in prison. Roles where instead of taking I was giving, and roles where not only did I learn so much more about myself than any forced offending behaviour course, I also became a better person.
If you know Maslow’s, you’ll know the top of his pyramid is self-actualisation which, according to Wikipedia, is described as ‘achieving one’s potential, including creative activities‘.
I find it hard to disagree.