Wednesday, May 12, 2010

All Change

As a broad proposition, prisoners adopt a routine and tend to stick to it. It is one way of numbing the senses, a soporific method of lessening the pains of imprisonment. Disturbances to routines can be unsettling.

And this place seems to be undergoing changes, and rumours of changes. None are good, except in the eyes of the monkeys-in-suits who rule this isolated realm.

Our kitchen is being refurbished. Did it need it? Who knows. All that is certain is that a national financial crisis would never prevent the prison service from wasting money. Just ask the wing staff whose offices now have shiny new furniture. No kitchen means a reduced service, supplied by a temporary kitchen. This happens to be sited beneath my window and its machinery - cooling? - buzzes away at intervals through the night. One of our meals is now of the airline variety. A sealed plastic effort of three compartments, allegedly comprising types of meat and veg. They are, as you will doubtless know, rubbish. All the inconvenience of air travel without the holiday at the end.

This effects all of us. A decision by the Area Manager effects far fewer but is far more illustrative of managerial attitudes. On a flying visit, the new Area Manager decreed that any prisoner with a laptop must have it removed.

That any of us had laptops takes some explaining... It resulted from a previous governor, a man now embodied in local legend as being the epitome of liberality and common sense. The screws hated him and he was hounded out of his post. But whilst here, he allowed some prisoners to buy laptops (sans modems to connect to the Net, obviously).

As the years passed, policies changed and this was no longer permitted. Those who already had laptops, though, were allowed to keep them. What with natural wastage and transfers, this only added up to a handful by the time of the Area Manager’s visit.

Thousands of pounds worth of equipment was, at two days notice, prized out of our hands. The Governor is now refusing to give compensation. This will, obviously, end up in some court or other. After all, these laptops were bought in good faith and removing them on a whim should result in some compensation.

The Area Manager also wants to squeeze a further 70 prisoners into this prison, taking the population from 196 to 266. As the facilities are already inadequate for the population -insufficient work, for example - then increasing the capacity does not bode well.

Particularly as, in order to squeeze this number into a fixed number of cells, it will mean that the majority of the prison will suddenly find themselves sharing a cell.

I just hope that one way or another, I will be moving on from here in the not too distant future.


  1. As a broad proposition, prisoners adopt a routine and tend to stick to it.

    I think I would add, that as a broad proposition, nearly everybody adopts a routine and sticks to it. I think it was Mycroft Holmes who "had his rails, and stuck to them." I certainly understand that.

  2. Yes, the prison, the gorvernment is always wasting money...


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