This week I had the incredible opportunity of being able to visit a prison and be able to pretend to be a prisoner for a day! A trip like no other – and an opportunity few general members of the public get.
The prison is set to open soon so we were there to help the staff to test the facilities!
It was quite the day of reflection about the criminal justice system and effective rehabilitation. It was very different from anything that television portrays – the prison officers were so reasonable and respectful that it was exceedingly difficult to pretend to be a defiant prisoner!
One of the things that became glaringly apparent is how vital it is for prisons to focus on rehabilitation. Being in a prison for just one day and losing my autonomy and then coming back to normal life was difficult enough – let alone after months or years.
What’s more, without having a watch or my phone for the day I had no concept of time which was very odd indeed! Being in my room/cell gave me a lot of time (and I don’t know quite how much time) to think about pretty much everything. It made me realise how exceptionally rushed our day-to-day lives are and how little time we get to just sit and reflect – except for maybe the thoughts that buzz around your head before you go to sleep. I was left with purely my own thoughts and I pondered my present, my future, my job applications, the Law Society – everything! It dawned on me that it’s actually quite remarkable how little we rely purely on our own minds to get us through the day. We always have our phones, other people and other resources to fall back on. Unable to do anything else, all I could really do was think and it was, sadly, rather strange.
Although having an hour or two of just thinking may be a bit excessive on a regular basis, I will never again underestimate the value of thinking through my situation and my problems.
It was quite the enlightening experience.