This is what a typical day of prison is like. I am talking about this because it’s okay saying prison is awful so don’t go there, but it gives no indication of what that awful means. I want to deter others from making the same mistakes. The only way I can do that is tell you a typical day of a prisoner at the prison I was in. They all differ in their routines apparently according to those that have been in other prisons. And female prisons are different from males. There was a male side of the prison I was in but obviously I cannot tell you about that because I wasn’t on that side due to my gender. What I can say though is that the male side had a lot of lock downs because we heard it on the prison officers radios. It sounded a lot more hostile than the female side. Apparently, there are many more inmates on the wings in the male side so that does increase the chance of potential conflicts.
Anyway, on a typical weekday, we were woken up at around 7am and were not allowed to sleep in. We had to get up and have breakfast (if we wanted it, but I’d take the packet of tea and milk instead for my days worth of tea supplies). Then they call medication. We are all locked in one area (the wing) and we are sent out one by one when our wings medication is called. We had to show our mouths afterwards so that the officers knew we’d taken our medication.
We then had movement where the prisoners either went to work or education. If you were a wing worker, you’d stay on the wing constantly because your job was to clean. I was fortunate enough to be able to complete my Maths level 2 in there. We got money added to our account by working and doing education. This could be used to purchase phone credit or supplies from the canteen part of the log in kiosk, which came at the end of the week. The first week is incredibly hard because you are only getting about 40p a day because you do not have an activities on your schedule. You’re also locked up when everyone else is on movement until lunch and do not get unlocked for movement after lunch.
The weekends aren’t like that as the cells are open all the time unless it is just after lunch where there is an hours lock up for the officers to go have their lunch etc. However, they lock the cells up for the night at about half 4 at weekends so it’s still not nice. During the week, they lock up the cells from about half 6.
We had to be escorted and signed in everywhere by the prison officers. I had a single cell, but a lot of the prisoners had to share and this didn’t always work. They moved people around a lot to different wings because of this issue. I was granted a single cell because of my Autism and others got it because of mental health issues etc. It was lonely during lock up in a single cell though. Sometimes I wish I’d have been with a room mate (as long as I got on with them), just for someone to talk to at night when the hours dragged on. I didn’t ask to share because I knew my appeal was coming up but I would have done if it hadn’t worked and I’d still been inside. I went downstairs during the unlock time to socialise so I didn’t get completely lonely. It was an alien environment to me and I did feel lost. I got used to it, but it’s a place where you just have to get on with things until you’re freed.
Getting upset and tearful (which I did when I first got there) isn’t going to help you in that environment. Even though the routine is absolute hell, you just have to take it day by day and get through your sentence. It’s not easy. It’s downright hard. But, it’s a must because there is literally no other choice. I was lucky to meet some great women who really helped me cope in there. I wasn’t bullied a lot. I had the odd bitchy or personal comment said to me over the month I spent inside, but the other women knew I was vulnerable so they tried to protect me from getting involved in anything. In my opinion, there was a lot of vulnerable adults suffering from various mental health issues in prison who shouldn’t have been placed in that environment.
If you broke any of the rules or did something the officers thought was wrong, you’d get a red IEP. Getting a few of these meant that you got put on basic. This resulted in your television being removed and being locked up more than the others. I personally didn’t get one, but I saw it happen on our wing. They barely gave out any green IEP’s which led to privileges. It was extremely easy to get a red IEP, but they rarely gave out green ones, and if they did, they never seemed to get entered onto the system officially so that the prisoner could get things from having them.
The food wasn’t that good and full of carbs (which are fattening). I didn’t eat breakfast (as I don’t at home). I made sure that I ordered some food that I liked otherwise you just got what is left (this happens the first week anyway unless you’re showed how to order meals for the coming week). You have to order the whole weeks worth of meals at least 24 hours before otherwise you’re just getting the default that is left over. I lost weight but this was only due to not being allowed Pepsi max inside (which I have on a daily basis on the outside). I had to order a diet coke out of my own money earned from doing activities. It wasn’t a nice diet coke because it came unrefrigerated.
You get half an hour to forty minutes in the exercise yard per day, unless you’ve got officers on that took their wing out twice a day (this didn’t happen often). By exercise yard, I’m talking a small area where you can only walk around in a circle or sit on the benches in the middle. There was a Gym but if you weren’t doing it as an activity then you barely got half an hour to an hour in there when they called the house block. The timing of the Gym call was also not ideal as it was just clashing with evening meal time after just getting back from movement (which is why I only went twice) and for a few weeks they didn’t actually call Gym. This changed after it was raised as an issue by one of the prisoners.
The combs that they give you are damaging to your hair. The brushes provided on the canteen are just as bad too. They pull at your hair and it falls out. Luckily, I have a lot of hair so the comb making it thinner by pulling hair out wasn’t too bad with my hair, but long term (if I’d done my whole sentence) I think it would have even ruined my hair. You have to use a toilet in your cell. It’s just like a hole with a flush and a cover like a seat. Although, on some wings they didn’t have the covers. If you use the toilet over in the activities, then there is no chance of privacy. They have a window and it warns you that any attempts to cover it up will result in a red IEP.
So now you know what I mean when I said it’s not a nice place and this is why I don’t want to put a foot wrong again.