When I sent the first posts for this blog to my mum to put up, I had the letter returned to me by the prison censors who said that they couldn’t let me send it because “prisoners aren’t allowed to blog.” I’m sure the likes of Jail House Lawyer, Noel Smith, and (most famously) Ben Gunn who already fought for this right and won, would have something to say about that, but I nevertheless had to go through the normal complaints procedure.
I pointed out that the rules state that prisoners are not allowed access to social networks such as Facebook, but the Prison Service Instructions themselves state that prisoners may publish their writing online as long as they do not receive payment, talk about their own offences or those of others, or identify individual prisoners or members of staff. In their response, the prison service requested the website address so that they could check the site and ensure that I had not posted anything I should not have. Of course, I gave the address immediately, but had to point out that they might have trouble checking the content since it was them who had stopped me sending any content!
Even more strangely, whilst I was still trying to resolve this, my mum sent a few printouts of the site in its construction phase, with “Adam Mac: blogging behind bars” written right across the top of every page. Since, at that point, they were still saying I couldn’t blog, you’d think they’d have stopped this letter from getting to me. But no, I was given it without any argument!
Still, after a second stage complaint and an in depth check of the site (minus any actual content) the prison service relented. They said I could blog after all!
Maybe common sense does prevail sometimes.
I guess I should tell you a bit about who I am. The first thing I should probably make clear is that I’m not a “prison blogger”, I’m a blogger who happens to be in prison. Sure, I’ll probably write a fair bit about prisons, but prisons are not what I’m about.
I started this sentence when I was still a kid. I’ve been inside ever since. I grew up in here. But prison does not define who I am. I am more than just a number.
I’m not going to get into how I ended up in here – that wouldn’t be fair on the people my crimes affected – but I will say that I changed. I grew up. I matured. At times this change was encouraged by the system, and at others I changed in spite of it. But I refuse to be defined by prison. I’m a three dimensional person. I have interests, hobbies, skills. Yes, I’m a prisoner, but I’m so much more too.
I’ve often been told that, being in prison since childhood, I lack the life experience of people my age on the outside. Rubbish. I have twenty-eight years of life experiences. They are just different life experiences. But what use are experiences if you can’t share them? I’ve been writing articles, short stories, and poems for some time now – with varying degrees of success – but even the work I’ve had published has had a limited reach. I guess that’s the nature of prisons. They’re all walls and locked doors. However, that has at least motivated me to start this blog. To break down the doors, scale the walls, and share my experiences with the world beyond. And if you want to reply, if you want to ask any questions or to share back, please do, either through this site or by writing to me direct at the address on the right. It’s always good to know there’s still people on the other side of the wall.