Benny says: “when I first came out here, it was a little bit shameful to say you’re a prisoner when you meet the public.”

“The hardest thing for me is, which I have no choice, is going to the gate every morning, standing there’s big doors, one only opens when the other one’s closed … we stand in that and it’s like an empty garage, freezing cold, waiting to get out, but we also stand there with the guys that are getting out of prison for good. So, every day there’s always someone getting out. The hardest thing is to stand there and on the other side of that gate is their family and friends and they’re all excited because they’re getting out. Every day that happens. That’s hard because you’re not getting out. Then they’ll say to you “one day it’ll be you” and it will be, but that’s probably one of the hardest things.

My life is really boring at the moment. I get back from here, I have a shower, I ring my mum and my friends, if I’m going to, sometimes I have something to eat, but very rarely, put the tv on, half-seven I’m gone. One or 2 o’clock I wake up, have a cup of tea, half-an-hour later back to sleep, wake up at six, have a shower, come here, work, go back. That’s it. That’s the life. The weekend is just tidy your room really, do your washing, if you can, your bedding and all the rest of it and that’s that done. You have your Saturday day, do all that, wake up on Sunday and you’re getting ready to go to work on Monday. I don’t go to the gym. I used to go running. I do a lot of walking at the weekends. I do six miles on a Saturday and six miles on a Sunday. There’s a road that if you walk up and down it 12 times, it’s a mile. So, six down, six back, that’s a mile. Do that 72 times for six miles. It takes roughly two hours. So, I do that. That keeps you fit plus what I do here.

Prison is still shit. How there’s not more deaths in there, I don’t know. Since, way before Christmas, the guys on the other wings haven’t been getting out of their cells, especially when the prison is in lock down (more often than not). They’re getting out 20 minutes a day on the main wings, 20 minutes a day and they’re in a metal cell and they can’t have a shower, anything like that, for 23 hours and 40 minutes. They get 10 minutes for lunch and 10 minutes to get out in the morning. You can’t have a shower because you’ve got 160 blokes for six showers in 10 minutes. They’ve got a sink in their cells, so they can have a wash, but it’s not the same…

To start with when I first came out here, it was a little bit shameful to say you’re a prisoner when you meet the public. This is what I hate, the public. We’re all the public. So, meeting people and you don’t want them to know you’re a prisoner because there’s a stigma, you get labelled. You can see their faces change on some people. Their attitude towards you changes, but I’ve lost that now. It doesn’t worry me now. In fact, I’m more like “yes, I’m a prisoner”. Because of being here, this is what I do, this is the good stuff…

Coming here has changed my thought pattern. There’s no stigma for me now. I’ve got used to it maybe. The interesting time will be when I get out of prison, if I bump into people. That will be interesting, how they treat me…

Yes you’re still a prisoner and you’ve got to remember that, and that’s hard sometimes because if you come out here every day, you’re out here more than you are in there, and you mix with normal people and the public, and whereas you were cattle in prison, you feel like cattle, and like a school with all the rules and regulations “can I do this sir?”, you come out here and that’s all gone, most of it and you feel normal. The more you feel normal, the more used to it you get. So, going back to that regime is harder. You get to know the people out here and the public and it’s really, really nice, everyone is…”

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