Saturday, February 4, 2012
Talking on the payphone last week I found I was struggling to explain how open Open prison can be. Taking a quick trip from an imagined cell to the Education Department may illustrate my point?
At, say, Erlestoke - a standard Cat-C prison - a journey from cell to a distant building was a maze of gates, fences and locks. The cell has to be unlocked by staff. A gaggle of prisoners is then gathered at the entrance to the wing. That gate is unlocked and relocked to allow movement into the first compound. A gate is then unlocked to allow movement through a second compound, then a third, and into a fourth. Staff are positioned along the route. Finally, the Education building hoves into view, the final door to need unlocking.
Here, the same journey is a tad different. As our doors are not locked then I could, if afflicted by the crazies, walk to the Education building at 2 a.m.. There are no physical barriers to that, though the Governor would ensure I'd be spending the next year or two back in a Closed prison!
So I stagger out of bed around 7.30 a.m. and make a brew, starting the trip to work at 8.10. Leaving my cell I dive out of the door on the end of the landing (handily next to my cell) and wander across the nick. With no fences or gates between me and my goal I could opt for one of several routes depending on the weather and temperament, all depositing me at the doors to the Education department. Which is unlocked.
As I tried to explain on the phone, Open can be very open. If I chose I could be out of my room, off the wing, over the boundary fence, dodging sheep and being run over on the adjacent motorway in under a minute. All that stops me - and the rest - is good sense.
This is the nature of Open prison; the physical barriers to escape and mayhem are absent. Just don't ask the local village near any such prison what they think!
Labels: open prison