Frankie says: “What I’m looking forward to most is to be able to drop my guard and relax…”

I’m fortunate my time in prison, it’s coming to an end. It’s getting close to the end. A few more bullets to dodge yet… What I’m looking forward to most is to be able to drop my guard and relax. You’re so guarded all the time. To actually be able to relax, even when you go out on ROTL (release on temporary licence), you’re very aware you’re going back and you need to keep that sort of hyper-vigilance about you. Coming out here is a lot different to being on the main prison and working inside the prison. You never relax. You never drop your guard. That is prison, hyper-vigilant all the time. You’ve got to be aware of what’s going on around you so you don’t get drawn into anything that you can’t handle.

To liken it to somebody, it would be like being shut in the corner of a pub with a bunch of drunken football hooligans, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You know something’s going to kick-off, you know there’s going to be trouble, you’re just not really sure how, where or what’s going to spark it. So, you’re always minded not to be the spark. That’s the environment you’re in. A bunch of drunken football hooligans are probably better behaved than those in prison. You have to be aware of what’s going on around you all the time. Some people thrive in that environment and it doesn’t bother them and there’s other people who shy away from that environment and that’s what it’s like in prison. Me – I hate it. I shut my door and get as far away from it as I can…

There’s a funny side to it. I’ve described the hyper-vigilance you have to have, but there’s also a side of it where you’re almost like a child where you don’t have a worry in the world. Because you can’t alter anything, you can’t do anything, so, in some ways you have no worries or responsibilities, which can be quite nice… My prison journey is different to everybody else, isn’t it? Everyone’s journey is different.

I’ve always been very black and white. This has probably given me some more grey areas… Prior to being sent down I would’ve argued that anybody who ever went to prison had done something to deserve to be there. Having been there and heard some of the stories, yes, if being stupid is reason enough to be there, then yes, most of us deserve to be there, but I’ve seen an awful lot more of what’s going on in the real world that is far dafter than what people get sent down for.

The LandWorks experience has been refreshing, which I would like to get across. The frustration is that it’s such a small splash in the ocean. When I go in there and you hear that lads are being released to no fixed abode, that isn’t right in this day-and-age.

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