Sunday, December 6, 2009

Growing up in Prison

Those unfamiliar with the prison system may be surprised to learn that, having captured me at the age of 14, they paid absolutely no attention to my social or psychological development. Those who are familiar with the system will shrug their shoulders; nothing new here.

Being a teenager is a formative period, where expressions of individuality and attempts to explore identity are perfectly normal and crucial. But that is outside.
Inside, however, in a highly regulated and controlled environment, these are seen as expressions of defiance and being anti authority. Just by being a normal kid, attempting to make sense of the world, leads to being labelled as awkward if not downright subversive.

Oddly enough, a battery of psychometric testing in the 1990's revealed, to wide surprise, that my development had left me within the normal range. Considering the circumstances, I must have done something right.

I have met others who entered prison at a young age and some of them are positively retarded emotionally and socially. Their experience has left them crippled for life.

The difference between those who develop normally and those who are left underdeveloped seems obvious to me. It rests on compliance; a "good prisoner" is a compliant, unquestioning one. But whilst good prisoners may keep the institution content, it undermines individuality and it is that sense of Self that is important in the wider society. Good prisoners don't necessarily make good citizens.

And so I would suggest that whilst my particularly sharp awkwardness in those early years may have displeased my keepers, it was essential if I was to develop into a reasonable adult individual.

Such a pity that I had to kick against the grain to achieve this, and I worry about the many youngsters who are nowadays thrown into prison and expected to behave like automatons. What sort of adults will they be? When I shaved my head at 17, I was slung in solitary for two weeks. I can only hope things have improved. The cynic in me can't help but worry, though.


  1. you mentioned shaving your head at 17.

    So... what do you look like now?

  2. HeHehehe! Anonymous said 'So... What do you look like now? Just what you wanted to be Ben! Going bald, of course! That is because I saw the artists impression of you, Ben! In the Guardian, of cause.
    Now, to your subject Ben! It is very worrying, to find that many whom leave Prison, are in no way cured of their problem, for which they were incarcerated for.
    Yet, your own situation, which does show that you were nearly always, the normal fella, except for that 'one', home-grown tragedy, gets victimized for life!
    This, feels to me, as though this world is a complete, evil error.

    The system makes people into zombies. They turn them out every day on release. They then do more of the same bad things. There is a horrible thought here.

    Without disease, the drug companies would not exist. Some say that they even possibly create some viruses, to make money. Swine Flu?

    You have a shell of a building, you need to have a system that will make money, and remove those disobedient gits, who either break a rule, or embarrass the powers that be, because they are Truth seekers. They have found out that what is needed, is more zombies!
    Zombies keep the system ticking over. Find a zombie, lock him up, give jobs to morons to look after zombie! Is he fried enough? Yeah! Let him out then. But isn't he a zombie? Yeah!

    Zombie gets out, finds other zombies, gets into zombie pastimes. Whoopie! Zombie Party Time! System needs some fiscal study. Dodgy hand-shakers arrive, Committee-Committee-Committee. More morons, not enough morons, decisions-decisions-decisions, it is decided, morons are the answer to our prayers. Morons, it is, give them dark blue uniforms! What shall we call them, 'Policemen'? Well, in print we do, but really they are just morons!

    Shouldn't you spell the name moron with a capital letter? Na! There just morons. And zombie? Who the f-ck are they? I live where all the f-ckers are morons!