JANUARY 2015

1st – 15th January 2015

So here we are – 2015. As per usual, I’ve got a number of goals to achieve before the end of the year. I’ve got a really good feeling that 2015 will turn out to be a good year – certainly much better than the last couple of years.

So, to ensure that I’m moving forward as quickly as possible I’ve started getting up with the larks ( or pigeons in this case ). That’s usually around 5am. You see we don’t all spend our days lying in our beds, drinking coffee, and watching daytime TV.

MUSIC

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks on the music front. We’ve started rehearsing for the next concert. Some of the suggestions are a little “proggy” – Orpeth, Anathema,, and I’d like to do “The Big Money” by Rush. Another adrenaline fuelled number.

I’ve also started on the “Improvement Through Music” course. It’s run on a Thursday morning for 30 weeks. Oh, the joy of spending a whole morning plugged in turned up and rockin’ out a few tunes. It will also give me the opportunity to rehearse and perform some of my own songs. I have 3 albums worth of material written over 2003 – 2006. It would make a decent double album ( or a great single one! ). I’ve not written much since but my muse came back to me momentarily around September 2012 and a really good song fell out of me fully formed like a chicken laying an egg. Mmm, not quite the simile I was going for.

I’ve been writing a booklet for the beginners’ guitar course. It’s starting to look pretty professional. As I’ve done it on MS Powerpoint, the option is available to teach with the aid of a presentation. Of course, it would help if I could get into the Print Shop on a regular basis ( see below ) to continue this work.

Something that many of will not realise is that prisons are run like a village/small town. Literally, a gated community. Part of the big idea is to encourage prisoners to do something positive for “their” community. You can volunteer to be a prisoner rep in many different areas, such as, anti – bullying, safer custody, canteen, healthcare, lifestyle… the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, many prisoners take on these roles for self – centred reasons. Some are seeking status, to remain an Enhanced prisoner, because they ( mistakenly ) believe it will help them to progress through their sentence, to “ to feather their own nest “, or to elevate their own self – esteem. However, I do know some good guys who do have a genuine need to help others and improve environment

I recently proposed a new rep position – music rep. This idea has now been implemented and I’m the B wing music rep. I can’t say I’m doing it for totally altruistic reasons. You do get paid an extra £1 per week – hurrah! Although, I’ve still got no idea what the role entails. I do hope it doesn’t mean having to talk to anyone and answering music related questions… I don’t know why my sense of humour is so misunderstood.

1st – 15th January 2015

PRINT SHOP

I’m finding that this workshop seems to shut a lot. I’ve worked out that in the 36 months I’ve been at HMP Wakefield I have been behind my door for around 15 months. That’s 20+ hours per day.

The Inspector of Prisons’ Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Wakefield between 30 June – 11 July 2014 states:

‘3.3 […] a fully employed prisoner could achieve just over 8 hours out of their cell on Monday to Friday and about 6 hours at the weekend […]’

In answer to the question of ‘how many hours were spent in cells on average each day’, the Prisoners Minister Andrew Selous stated:

‘[…] For 2011 – 2012, across male establishments the estimated average time in cell was 14.5 hours per weekday[…]’

He went on,

‘[…] Too many prisoners have been passing their time in a state of idleness […]’

This is the sort of ill- conceived comment, rooted in ignorance, which misrepresents the majority of prisoners. I know of many that use their time constructively to develop skills in an area of interest.

He goes on,

‘[…] Prisoners are now expected to engage in purposeful activity […]’
Work in prison is a key priority to ensure prisoners are engaged in real work […]’
It also gives them the opportunity to learn skills and a work ethic which can increase their chances of finding employment on release […]’

What a great soundbite. This is the reality in here. Workshops shut for prolonged periods due to staff shortages or a lack of work. Workshops open but, due to having no work, prisoners having to fill their time playing board games. Of course, it all goes down as ‘purposeful activity’. It is rather patronising of Mr Selous to assume that all prisoners have no skills or work ethic So what skills are being taught in here? Cleaning, sewing, and cooking. I certainly do not want to denegrate any of these professionals, but all of this is doing is stereotyping prisoners and lowering their expectations of what they could achieve in life, It crushes ambition. What a loss to society.

Back to ’time out cell’, the Bromley Briefings state:

‘Many prisoners not fully employed spent less than 4 hours out of their cells on a weekday.’
( HM Chief Inspector of Prisons ( 2013 ) Annual Report 2012 13, London: The Stationary Office.)

It doesn’t help that,

‘The length of the evening association has reduced significantly in 2012-13 in some prisons, with people locked up for the night before 7pm.’ ( HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (2013 ) Annual Report 2012-13, London: The Stationary Office )

At HMP Wakefield we get locked up 6.45 pm Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and 5pm Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

However, one of the positives about the Print Shop is learning about the sublimation process. The ‘ perk ‘ of this is you can create your own design to print on a mug. These Print Shop mugs are a definite upgrade on the blue plastic prison mugs.

Being Scottish, I designed my own tartan. This was made up of dark blue, sky blue, and pink ( yes pink! ) Living in such a drab, grey, and austere environment I have found myself gravitating far more towards colour. I used the the tartan design as a ‘fill’ for my name and printed it on the mug. Wow! I was so happy with the result (how sad ). When I got back on the wing , I just had to swank about drinking in an overly dramatic fashion just to show off my new refreshment apparatus. ( sigh ) I need to get a life.

Although, I think it was William Morris who said something along these lines of, ’never have anything in your house that isn’t beautiful or useful.’ Well, I can do the ironing but it might be a stretch to far to call me beautiful.

1st – 15th January 2015

EDUCATION ISSUE

As this issue is negatively affecting various aspects of my prison life, I had a meeting with my prison law solicitor. I don’t want to say too much at this stage, however, in terms of what we are going to do to resolve this situation, it was an extremely positive meeting.

One ex-member of HMP Frankland’s staff has already disclaimed some information regarding the conduct of the 2 main instigators of the false allegations. Therefore, if there is anyone else who is courageous enough to come forward with relevant information regarding the HMP Frankland and/or HMP Wakefield education issue please contact:

Catherine Terris Tucker
Tuckers Solicitors
0161 233 4321

I’ll keep you posted on developments.

Scrabble

Have you noticed just how much I like words? Why use one when you can use three. One of my ( not so ) guilty pleasures in here is playing scrabble. There’s a bit of an obsessive culture of scrabble playing on the landing. So I have started a Scrabble league. Wow! Even though it’s just a friendly bit of competition, some of these guys are so competitive. Tantrums and tiaras! At least it’s whittled down the number of players.

There’s even a Scrabble Club that meets in the library every Friday morning. I think I’ll apply.

Be happy, be safe see you next time.

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