Monday, November 30, 2009
One of the most depressing conversations I ever took part in occurred in Open prison. George was about to be released after serving 40 years and I was curious as to his future plans.
"A few months in a probation hostel, then see what happens." I was stunned. He'd spent the last few years in Open, a place allegedly intended to give us some future focus, and George was leaving without a single idea or skill with which to rebuild his life.
As a lifer, it is very easy to sink into adopting a very short term view. Our lives are not our own and it can be deeply depressing to attempt to plan for a release which may never come. Looking a few days ahead is as far as some of us dare go. At the moment, I am maintaining my sanity by not even looking ahead to tomorrow.
In the last decade or so, though, I have become increasingly focused upon my possible future. What do I do when I am released? Despite the strange life I have lived, I do have a broad skill set ranging from mediation through to E-Commerce. Completing the PhD will equip me with general research skills, and may even lead to a minor career in criminology.
Although I have been writing for many years for the prisoner’s national newspaper (insidetime.org), as well as for various campaign groups and prison magazines, I was taken by surprise when someone described me as "a writer".
Assuming my fan is correct, perhaps I could and should develop this as a way to pay the rent in my post prison future? But in what way?