Chris’s blog: A spinning nightmare


It’s Election Fever and you may have caught a few of the policy-speak words flying around: ‘resettlement’, ‘reintegration’ and ‘rehabilitation’.

Which is all just fine, even positive; certainly better than focusing simply on the language of risk and security.

Slightly to the contrary, however, four of our trainees have been held back in prison over the last few weeks (this is across the entire prison estate) and it appears no decision on movement will now be made until mid May.

Incoming call, Tuesday morning, 10.34am – “Chris, it’s Jim (one of the four held in). This is like a spinning nightmare Chris, what we going to do? Will the job still be ok? What about a room, have you found somewhere? Can you phone my mum? I can’t do nothin’ and I’m losing it in here, what the fu*k’s happening?”

Desperate to reassure and calm I replied, “It will be…”

The line goes dead and I slightly panic.

I press redial. Just a continuous tone, you can’t phone back in to prison.

“The real message about day release from prison is actually incredibly positive, evidence shows this to be a huge success… it should make good headlines!”

That’s it; contact broken. Nothing I can do. In that moment I get a split second insight into the horrors of trying to remain in contact with family and loved ones. Immediately corroborating all the reports I hear of how utterly desperate this situation can be stuck inside prison.

I guess he’s run out of phone credit. Short of writing a letter and applying for a visit, I don’t know if I will see Jim. He is due for release next week! We were supposed to be spending this week sorting out accommodation, continuing our settlement plan and generally getting him into a mindset ready for his first days out after two and a half years inside.

As Jim said, this is a nightmare, everything’s stalled; perhaps it’s more an expression of risk and security rather than a positive statement supporting rehabilitation.

Bizarrely the real message about day release from prison is actually incredibly positive, evidence shows this to be a huge success… it should make good headlines!

Apart from being cross and generally kicking things about the place, I am now having a rethink. I wonder if we are using the right language at all. I may be completely alone on this but words prefixed with ‘re’ suggest returning to how it was before. Which is not particularly helpful given that I would say most if not all of our trainees do not want to return to the life they had before prison.

On reflection I wonder if we should encourage the use of different language… Perhaps settlement, inclusion, support and integration? Especially politicians!

Let me know your thoughts.


If you feel particularly strongly about this issue, or know someone else who might, please do forward on this blog.

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