Monday, April 25, 2011
We may not want to live in them, but for long termers they are essentially our home. They do not belong to us , we may only occupy individual cells briefly and at the whim of our masters, but nonetheless they are home .
Not home in the essentially comforting sense; home as a synonym for security. Cells offer neither. But they are home in the sense of being the closest we have to personal space or a semblance of privacy. These are very significant psychological crutches, all the more so for helping to endure the strains of a lengthy sentence.
And like all personal space, prisoners share what may be an innate need to make an attempt to organise that space into the shape that is most comforting, most comfortable, and which somehow afford a small sense of mental ease.
If you entered a room containing a table and chair and were left to your own devices, would you not arrange these two items in the way which best suited you? A cell is no different. Each of us lives in a slightly different way, has a different routine and different needs. And each of us attempts arrange our cell in a way which best suits us as individuals.
This is why the recent drive to remove ''excess'' furniture riles us so much. And it illustrates the depth of the lack of understanding on the part of our keepers as to what it is like to serve a long sentence. What was a useful psychological crutch has been removed on an unexplained whim, and until and unless our keepers gain some appreciation of our lives then the prospects for change are slim.
Labels: prison life