I guess we have all seen the image of a polar bear stood on a piece of ice, floating all alone at sea. That’s me!
A lot of people are under the impression that ‘inside’ it is a case of ‘them against us’, honour amongst thieves’, or whatever phrase they choose to coin, but it is not like that at all for me.
You see, I’m seen as an outcast by most of the prison population, staff, legal system and pretty much anyone else who does not fall into those three categories.
I am an appellant! Or as others see it, another one who is ‘innocent’, just like the other 80 odd thousand people in prison. Fitting in is hard, as those employed by the prison service label us as ‘deniers’ and therefore look down on us and treat us like lepers. Other inmates tell you to ‘grow a pair’ or to admit it, cause it’s the only way you’re getting out, which is often the sad truth. The legal world doesn’t want to help and with a lack of Legal Aid it’s constant knock backs.
Maintaining innocence isolates you from others, because they see you as an imposter, someone who does not belong and isn’t criminally minded, so they keep an eye on you thinking you cannot be trusted and keep you at arms length. If I lied and said ‘I did it’, life would be easy and I would be accepted. The truth isn’t always what people want to hear, though!
If you follow the rules and get a good job, many others see you as a ‘screw boy or grass’, just because you try to do well by attending work every day or educate yourself as you would outside. Then there are the reports they write about you, which can be likened to the things estate agents use to sell houses, where they basically describe things to mislead people and paint a very different picture than the one that truly exists. For example, if you keep away from people you’re seen as posing a risk; they see you as a recluse or antisocial. Stand up for yourself and you are a problem, if you don’t you’re seen as weak and become a target. Even if you’re the best behaved person in the world, they can’t see it and consider you to be hiding something or good at deceit and manipulation.
I have been able to reflect on my life here and identify the outside influences affecting me and remove them. I can see things from a different perspective. I have changed, a lot, since coming into prison and learned to be a much better person, but that’s never enough as the goalposts are always in motion.
This is my first sentence and I never plan on returning, but due to the chance of re-call for no reason, it’s impossible to be certain.
Just like the polar bear on the iceberg, I am alone and have no idea when I will see freedom, stability or a normal life again. So I just stand here on my iceberg, waiting for land to appear, hoping that my iceberg doesn’t hit anything.
Life is no longer my own and my future isn’t what it used to be.