We have included another extract from a First Time Prisoners diary today and we feel the content speaks for itself really. Prison can be a lonely, intimidating place with strength of will being your only friend. This extract was written approximately three months after being sent to prison for the first time. Operating on the basis that sharing experience can benefit others we have permission to release excerpts as we wish.

“Another Saturday has come and gone, what a day it’s been. Today started with the cell door being opened at 8am and the noise of inmates running around on the search for whatever was important enough for them to burst out their doors at 8am plus five seconds and start shouting to their pals at the top of their voices. There is no respect for other inmates who may be asleep and nothing more important than what has got their attention first thing in the morning. I decided to close my door again and just lie in bed for a while battling to relax hoping the noise would die down. It’s hard not to get frustrated with the staff who could tell them to be quiet but just don’t seem to bother. That’s been a recurring theme today.

The level of drug use continues to stun me and after a chaotic start to the day the wing was positively chilled all afternoon as there was a plentiful supply of legal high. Given the choice of chaos versus tranquillity I start to wonder if there is actually an appetite to prevent drug use here, it’s hard not to be cynical. The vast majority of this wing were high or low or whatever the buzz was today in fact it was so quiet that for an hour this afternoon whilst walking in circles on the wing not one other person was in sight despite all the doors being open. The guards job is definitely easier on, what I’ve come to describe as,  a legal high day than on a day when it’s in short supply. I actually joked with one that I, as a non drug user, should be allowed a carry out for after lock up as everyone else had their fix but I don’t think he saw the funny side of that comment.  

The wing was lively again at dinnertime, before lock up, as there was once again a chaotic session of people chasing others looking for whatever making sure they were sorted for Saturday night in their cells. The number of people who approach you before lock up looking or begging for something is incredible especially when they know you have nothing to give.

Anyway it’s now Saturday night and I’ve got Magic radio on and I’m planning on writing letters to my wife and kids – despite having just spoken to them on the phone they are my drug of choice – as well as some extended family and friends. That’s become my Saturday night ritual and as I write to my wife, listening to the soundtrack of Magic Radio, I cry relentlessly. Physically prison presents no great challenge but mentally it’s absolutely brutal. The memories generated by some songs, the lyrics of any song all seem to heighten the desperate sadness of missing your family. I struggle to stay positive in my letters but know I must for their sake, I don’t tell them about the extent of drug use I witness only that I miss them and can’t wait to see them at the next visit.

Deserate times call for desperate measures and I’m going to stop writing to watch the X Factor. I could keep writing as it feels like a two way conversation with myself but i’m not sure thats a good thing.

p.s. It’s just struck me what today and almost everyday in here feels like – I recall asking my wife to collect me from a night out I was having with friends and the next morning she commented that, when she came inside the pub to get me, for the five minutes she was there listening to all my pals talking she couldn’t understand a word of what’s being said although we all found every syllable hysterically funny. I realise that walking into the pub that night is the same for me opening my door here everyday. Having to communicate with so many people clearly not in full control and who won’t remember the conversation tomorrow anyway. Why bother speaking at all? Sometimes even speaking to a wall is better than banging your head off it I suppose. Now it’s X Factor time.”

At First Time Inside we aim to make that transition to prison life just a little less traumatic and we do that to a certain extent by sharing experience and offering an insight into the impact of prison life. it’s processes and procedures. Thanks for taking the time to read our blog items and we look forward to engaging with you again soon.

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