Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Prison Life - Part 1

This is a tale from a guy I knew - he died from cancer last year - of some of his experiences in prison.  There will be no "I was a top man" or "I stood up to the screws" etc, etc, beloved of criminal memoirs.  This is from somebody who was been jailed for minor crimes, and he tells of the sort of inmates he came across in the 1970`s & 1980`s, that you never hear about.  I have edited his story down so it is compact, and does not meander, though the tales are interesting.  This is my tribute to the only person I have ever met who was on the same level as myself on the subject of crime.  Tony, this is for you.

    "The worst prison I was ever in was Strangeways in Manchester.  In Armley, there were strong bright strip lights, but Strangeways had like 40 watt bulbs, creating lots of dark corners, and making it a cheap horrible jail.  The screws were National Front mad, wearing little badges with NF on it.  Not surprisingly, they treated the blacks & foreigners really badly.  In those days, it did not matter how old you were, you were all mixed together.  You could go in knowing nothing and come out knowing everything.  Is prison a college?  Yes, it is.  The downside to people going inside for really stupid things such as non-payment of fines or not paying maintenance, would come out as drug addicts, despite never touching drugs before or be addicted to gambling.  People would even gamble on flies on the wall!

    I was given a job as a hospital cleaner.  The men put in there were suicide attempts, guys who had just been given a life sentence, or were on remand for murder.  They were on suicide watch.  There was one guy, a Pakistani, who had fell in love with a neighbour, a young Asian lass, but he had never spoken to her.  He was much older than her.  Then she got married and he thought she had done the dirty on him.  He broke into her home and killed her, then left her husband for dead, but he lived.  Another guy, he killed a woman. He knocked on her door and asked if her husband was in.  When she said no, he stabbed her death on the doorstep.  This kid had never been in trouble in his life.  He was brought out of his cell for a shave, and he 
had a decent head of hair except for a bald spot , like a monk.  I asked a screw what was up with him, but was told, "No time for talking"  Later on, a screw took me to his cell and told me to look through the peephole.  The guy is wanking!  I turned to the screw and said "I can`t watch this!"  "Keep watching.  Now you`ll know why he has a bald spot"  Suddenly he starts pulling his hair out.  The screw says this lad cannot orgasm.  He gets so close and then tears his hair out in frustration.  Judging by the charge and evidence against him, he decided he needed a woman and knocked on the first door he came to but ended up stabbing the woman to death.  

    When he was weighed off, he got diminished responsibility.  He had been a bird watcher, boy scout of the year, never been in trouble at all, then he does this.  The screw said "When you work down here for long enough, you see allsorts."  On Bonfire night (November 5th) an arsonist was in, and with rockets and all that going off, the kid was hyped up.  One screw pulled down the peephole and said "Hey, I`ve lit a sparkler for you"  The kid has his hand through the hatch, "Go on boss, give it me, give it t me"  The sparkler goes out but this kid still had his hand through the hatch "Give me some ash, boss!"  "Here you are" says the screw, putting some ash into the kid`s hand, and he`s stroking the ash.  He was in for burning a school down"

    This is just an edited version of the story he told me.  I will put more on later.