Posted by: paultovell | August 11, 2009

Inside out

Off to prison this morning for a meeting with a chartership mentee who works in the prison library.  Always a little surreal going through all the gates and security clearance (“Are you sure you’re not carrying silver foil?  What about a glue stick?”) to make it through to the “Inside”.  Then even more surreal chatting with convicts and even discussing work with some of them.  This morning they were all talking about Baby P and how they hoped the parents would be beaten up in whatever prison they went to – the reality is they probably will be.  One of the orderlies who works there had been called into security for a search because someone had tipped them off that he had a mobile phone in his cell.  He didn’t, but several orderlies were laughing and joking with him afterwards:  “I can get you a phone.  Only cost you £50.  Anyone else on your wing want one?!”  Meanwhile we talked about how good the prison art club is; several inmates who have never expressed themselves in anything other than a punch are now able to draw and paint – a fantastic way of dissipating their tension and something that will stay with them for life.  Some of their work has even been displayed in the local public library.  In spite of these distractions, we somehow managed to discuss chartership progress, which all seemed rather mundane compared to prison conversations.  Anyway, Her Majesty and her patriotic staff decided to release me again after my visit and I’m now back Outside.  I can’t help feeling very grateful for my freedom every time I leave…

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