What’s prison like? Is a question you tend to get often if you’ve been to prison, it’s usually followed by, is it the same as it is on the television? Did you meet any murderers? Was another.
A lot of the time, it can be incredibly boring, no and its prison, of course I did. Are/were my answers.
A question I don’t recall being asked is how did you ‘do prison’? Which, coincidentally, was like advice I was given when I was 17 and a YP in big man’s jail, although, at the time, when receiving the advice, a few of us were, following a court appearance, on lockout from our local prison and spending the night in a police station before, hopefully, returning to the prison the next day, if they had space.
This was 1987 and lockouts were a regular thing. I didn’t mind them personally, especially if decent police officers were on.
We were in Canterbury police station, virtually guaranteed to get back in the prison the next day as it was just around the corner from HMP Canterbury, and if no one messed around, they’d lock off the corridor barred gate, leave a television on a trolly their side and leave our cell doors open so we could mill about, and/or watch telly, until we had to bang up. I can’t remember the man’s name but what I do remember is he had a guitar with him, and I was sitting in his cell listening to him play whilst chatting at the same time. We were talking about prison, and he said to me “do your time, never allow your time to do you.”
I must admit, I listened but didn’t really take it in until a few months later and within a week of arriving at my new home, HMYCC Dover. To cut a long story short, I received a nicking whilst still on the induction unit (Hythe house) and put down the block (segregation unit).
Over the years, I’ve spent time in a few blocks, but none were ever as scary as Dover. It was then that I fully understood what my police station mate told me “…never allow your time to do you.”
I can’t say I didn’t make any more mistakes after that, however, apart from one situation in 09 where I really did allow prison to do me, the mistakes I made were whilst ‘doing prison’. I got caught.
Can one person really tell you what prison is like? I share me experiences of my times in custody, and I’ve already mentioned that prison is boring most of the time, especially if you allow it to be, but that’s my perspective. Being bored in prison didn’t affect me, having time to myself for myself, however, yes in prison, was difficult to come by. That’s not meant as a complaint, though, far from it.
The biggest mistake, with hindsight, I made regarding my time inside was ‘doing prison’, and to get out, never to stay out – In fact, I was recalled twice, just so I could go back to get out again – until my last one that is.
My last one ever.