I once had a beautiful large house, a nice car, a job that I held for twenty years and through one lie I’ve lost everything. I’ve worked very day of my life, never been out of work, now I’m limited to only working 5 hours a day, drugs are everywhere and the officers try their best to help people. I have never taken drugs, but people tell me they take them to get through the sentence. We spend a lot of time in our cells, 19 hours at weekends, it’s hots, we can’t have fans, the windows don’t open. Fights happen often, self harm, suicides, sadly, I’ve cut my arms, legs, chest, carving sentences into my skin such as ‘Dads don’t give up! xx’, ‘My sons are my life’, ‘Kill me now, end my pain.’ Yes, I struggle, but thanks to some kind officer I’m in a better place mentally, although I still have some very dark days.

Prison is a place full of sadness. I have seen a lot of men cry, not just because of just the sentence, but through huge remorse. Imagine having a visit and seeing your 19 year old son collapse, mum and dad break down, can you imagine the guilt? I used to have a very violent temper and believe me, I beat myself up about it every day. I’ve gone from a fantastic family man to this and I really don’t know if I can live with this label. I’ve served 21 months so far still waiting for an appeal. How quick life can change. I’ve lost many friends. Probation meetings tell you all the negative stuff, like you can never do this, you can never do that again, they drum it into you and are cruel with their words, no matter what you do to be a better man here, it doesn’t make a difference. I do want to die and beg god every day to take me. I can’t kill myself, I can’t do that to my sons.

Prison has made me realise what is important in life and that’s family. I see things more clearly and see how society are quick to judge. Yes, I’m a bitter person, prison makes you like that, because prison is boring. How long will you last in a 10 x 6 foot cell? Prison does not rehabilitate, it destroys people. You put a good dog in a cage too long, its mental health deteriorates and eventually it bites. If probation worked with us better and was more positive on your achievements, then maybe prisoners will feel better about their progress. My last meeting with them I came back to my cell, took all my family’s photos down and cut my legs – they take away your hope! I know my mental health isn’t good, there’s no help in here, it’s a constant fight to survive. The officers are fantastic considering they have to deal with a lot.

I’m sorry for my past tempers, I really am, but I don’t see a future outside anymore. Society live in a rat race, building their castles and they’re that perfect they instantly judge. Visit prison, see for yourself the pain. I lent one lad my hair clippers, two hours later he hung himself. He received a letter from his wife abandoning him and taking their kids. 3774 deaths last year in UK prisons. Why do people take drugs? Try living in prison and living with guilt. Prison is like a big pile of shit and I’m stuck in the middle of it, and just when I’m near the surface, probation shove you back down. I feel worthless and forgotten, every day is a worry if I will get shipped out to another prison. I’m not living, I’m surviving………..JUST!

by Johnson