It’s funny but only fairly recently did I realise that every prison I’ve ever been in has predominantly housed a different kind of bird. They all have pigeons of course but in none of the prisons I’ve been in have they been in the greatest numbers.
In my first post back in the new year I mentioned that I had taken the decision to do something that turned out to be quite inadvisable, but that I couldn’t yet go into detail about because it was still a pending issue. Since writing that the situation has been resolved and I think that I should probably share what happened. Here’s what went down.
“They claim that I’m violent, just cause I refuse to be silent,
These hypocrites are havin’ fits, cause I’m not buyin it.”
I always preferred 2pacs poetry to his songs but there are a few which I really relate to, especially in this environment. The above lyrics describe the relationship I have had with ‘the system’ over the last few years pretty well. In short, they start by twisting the truth, then they hide it, and finally they abandon it altogether. What’s more, when you catch them out and try to engage with them on equal terms, they label you.
They might call you uncooperative, they might call you manipulative, or they might call you violent. But these are reflective of their own acts. You are uncooperative with their attempts to twist the truth. You are manipulative because you try to find ways to stop them hiding the truth. You are violent because you take a stand when they abandon the truth. And all of this could have been avoided if they just told the truth.
Is that so much to ask from so called professional rehabilitators?
You can read the full lyrics to ‘Violent’ by 2Pac here or you can listen to it on my playlist.
I want to preface this by saying that I would never encourage a riot and I hope that I am never at a prison where one breaks out, forcing me to choose whether to take part or to take the consequences of not doing so from those who are.
However, I do think that the increase in the number and seriousness of prison disturbances over the past couple of years could actually be a good thing. Of course I don’t want anyone to get hurt, whether they are a prisoner or an officer, but physical violence does not necessarily have to be a core element of rioting. Criminal damage? Usually. Mutiny and insubordination? Definitely. But physical assault? It’s simply not necessary. What you won’t read in the mainstream media though, is what long term benefits may come from these riots for people on all sides.
Most prisoners, myself included, are guilty of thinking about institutional discrimination mainly from the point of view of race and religion, but there are a lot of other examples that are far less obvious and more deeply ingrained in the system, almost taken entirely for granted.
At least one officer a month bellows Return of The Mac at me as I get back to the wing from work and it goes right through me. It had to appear as the title of a blog post at some point though and this seems as good a time as any. I’ve neglected this of late. And I should apologise, most of all to those who have sent comments, tweets, and direct messages. It’s not that I’ve been ignoring them, simply that I’ve been focusing on other things which had to take priority. So here’s what happened…
One of the things that frustrates me most about some of the officers here (and the senior officers in particular) is how often what they say doesn’t match up with what they actually do. They tell me that the only way to get anywhere is to go about things in the right way, but when I do it is those who kick off who are rewarded just to placate them. When I submit complaints they tell me to come and speak to them instead, but when I do they either don’t want to know or they say they’ll sort it out but do nothing. They tell me to follow their example, but the example I see them setting is one of bullying, coercion, and discrimination. They tell me to follow the rules, but they frequently breach them themselves. They say they are looking at it from my point of view, but they really don’t see anything they don’t want to. What they’ll never understand is that they can walk through the gate but they will never understand what it is like on our side of the wall.
Stop Looking / Start Seeing by Papa Roach really reflects the feeling this leaves you with during those moments of extreme frustration and at some point enough has to be enough. There’s a time to lead and a time to follow. I won’t take this anymore.
The EU referendum is now imminent but the campaign on both sides of the debate has been characterised by mass confusion. It seems that no one really knows what the future holds, regardless of whether we stay or whether we leave. However, if predictions were to be made, here’s one hypothetical forecast of events to come if Britain were to go it alone.