Five months in segregation (not all in one go), with only one hour a day outside of my cell, was not good for my mental health. It’s not good for anyone’s mental health! When prison officers, including those in senior positions, think it’s funny to provoke the prisoners, there’s not much you can do. Resentment sets in and my way of coping was to write on my walls. Here’s a selection of my more mild writing:
My cell walls…
Dan Newman, the SO of Segregation, was very proud of his spiky hair and was often seen with a hairbrush in his hand:
We are sad to announce the loss of one of our finest officers. Daniel Newman, affectionately known as Knobhead, was forced to retire prematurely due to a freak accident whilst carrying out his duties. On 14 January 2016, whilst on his way to cell no.1 to supply radio batteries to a poor misunderstood prisoner (me), Knobhead fell over his own ego. He landed arse down onto a giant hairbrush which ironically had been made by said prisoner as a special gift for Knobhead. Unperturbed, our little hero rose to his feet, determined to deliver the batteries. But fate was against him as he was suddenly hit by a massive conscience. ‘If only I had been kinder and more understanding’, he gasped to the prisoner, who still hadn’t got her fucking batteries. ‘Never mind’, she replied, ‘this will cheer you up’, and she handed him a large dish of just desserts. ‘Choke on that you sadistic little bastard’, she said affectionately. On behalf of all staff and prisoners at HMP Peterborough, I would like to wish Knobhead a happy retirement.
The attitudes and actions of some of the officers were unpleasant and unnecessary:
What to expect in Segregation
Prisoner: May I have a toilet roll please?
Prisoner (20 minutes later): May I have a toilet roll please?
Officer: Yes, when I have time
Prisoner (after another 40 minutes): Please may I have a toilet roll (shouting)?
Officer: Stop shouting. You can have one when I’m ready
Prisoner: Too late!
Kev was Deputy Manager of the prison:
To my mate Kev,
Seriously mate, I am concerned for your health. You are not getting any younger but you continue to become antagonistic with prisoners. You are stressed. You need a holiday or your health will suffer. Look at your behaviour. You cannot control your staff. You let them write abusive words on cell walls and then blame the prisoner. You are unable to hold a rational conversation if you think you or your officers are in the wrong. Finally, you get personal when arguing with prisoners. You mentioned my age so I will mention yours. Time to retire, my mate Kev.
Officers must maintain an atmosphere of total despair at all times. This can be achieved in one of the following ways:
- Always keep the prisoner wondering. Telling them the truth may lead to a state of calmness, which could be detrimental to the officers as it denies them an opportunity to take the piss out of the prisoner.
- Officers must not communicate with each other if it benefits the prisoner in any way. On-going issues must not be discussed at handover, as it may give the prisoner the wrong impression that officers know what they are doing.
- Officers must be on the constant lookout for new ways in which to make the prisoner suffer. This may be psychological or physical. Never be afraid to hurt or humiliate a prisoner. Remember, you need something to brag about to your mates. The more you can make a prisoner scream, the funnier your story will be.
- If possible, try and gain a prisoner’s trust so that you can experience the pleasure of letting them down. This is a particularly difficult task for some as it means being kind initially.