Quentin says: “I couldn’t do another year, put it that way. Not a chance. It’s tougher than I thought.”

“I’ve been giving this a lot of thought because when people are reading the PeN Project, there’s an assumption about people in prison. I’m here to burst that assumption because whoever is reading this, the assumption will be that I’m from a low education background, that I’m from a sink estate somewhere, that I’m on drugs and that socially I’m a bit of a misfit. That’s the perception people have of people in jail. That used to be my perception of people in jail and that’s not correct and there’s people in jail for many different reasons. What I’m trying to say is, there’s a very fine line between people on the outside and people in jail…

People have got their opinions and I would say just have a think and don’t assume that we’re all horrible, uneducated … there are people in jail that should be in jail, I get that, can’t argue with that, I never would. It’s annoying, it’s embarrassing thinking that that’s what people think…

I did my seven years in the army. So, I spent 49 peaceful years where I was a law-abiding citizen, and no-one looked at me as a criminal, 49 years, and then because I happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, I get arrested, I get found guilty, suddenly at age 50, I’m serving a prison sentence. So, I’m now officially a criminal…

When I went home on that home leave, my car insurance is now triple, why? What relevance is my crime to …? I’m not in for violence, I’m not in for drugs, none of that, and yet my insurance goes up. No-one can tell me why. It’s things like that.

People probably aren’t aware of what happens when you … the instant you leave that courtroom, you become not a person. The way the judge speaks to you before the verdict and the way that judge speaks to you after, is completely different. Honestly, I couldn’t believe it Julie. All of a sudden, it’s like you were a naughty kid, it’s like f*#@ing hell, you were talking to me like a person a minute ago, it changes. I just wanted to get that out there…

A lot of prisoners, unfortunately, do fit the stereotype. Again, that contradicts everything I’m trying to say. Take the whole LandWorks project, projects like this, it’s about rehabilitation, it’s about stopping re-offending and how you can do that. The point I’m getting to with this, is that not everyone who goes to prison is going to re-offend, half do, but given what I’ve just mentioned about the insurance, is it any wonder? Because you’re on a hiding to nothing…

[Labelled] There’s nothing you can do. That and the unspent conviction. I know that doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but, tell that to the guy who’s got an unspent conviction. For me, that’ll follow me for the rest of my life. Before I came into jail I was under the impression that you get found guilty, you do your sentence, you do your time on licence and once that’s done, you have paid your price to society and you’ve got a clean slate, not the case. So, not only do things go up in price, you’re labelled for the rest of your life.  So, you can’t escape it and of course we’re in a digital age, so Google, I’m plastered all over Google, if you search me. I can’t escape that now. There’s people out there in jail, the career criminals, they couldn’t give a shit about that and that’s fair enough, but what about guys like myself. We’re the silent minority, if you like, because there’s nothing for us. How do you help guys like us?

My life was perfectly ok before I came to prison. Things were going well for me. Coming to prison has made mine far worse than ever it was, whereas, a lot of guys that come in, it’s the reverse for them. So, there’s help for them. They can get help with this, get help with that…

Me, I’m a beggar, I can’t be a chooser. That’s another aspect of having this conviction.

I just like to hope that people have maybe thought a bit more about it, but then if I’m honest, if you’re not involved with it, why would you? Why would you even care? When I ask these questions, I’ve already answered them in my head. But, at the same time, it’s important and I don’t know why it’s important, because really, what difference does it make to me? It matters to me, but maybe it only matters to me…

I’m just relieved it’s at an end. I couldn’t do another year, put it that way. Not a chance. It’s tougher than I thought. I honestly thought it would be along the same lines as the army. I thought it can’t be that much different. In certain ways the army was harder, certainly from a more physical point of view. Prison is a constant threat of danger, even when you don’t see it, it’s always there. You know that, and you can never drop your guard. So, you’re always on alert, not high alert, but alert, and that’s exhausting. To be able to go home and drop that, it’ll be great. It’s going to be palpable. To sleep in my own bed, heavenly, although I couldn’t get to sleep when I was home. The bed was too comfortable. I just want to go home and be normal, be myself….”


One thought on “Quentin says: “I couldn’t do another year, put it that way. Not a chance. It’s tougher than I thought.”

  1. I can feel your anger and frustration regarding ‘the system’ and it is truly justified as it is your own, real experience. I get that. Just try not to let it colour all your outlook.You have actually made some assumptions of your own here, as not all people reading this will have reacted in the way you imagine. We are all individuals, so whilst there are indeed people who will react in the way you say, there are also those who won’t. People like those at LandWorks for example, working their butts off to offer support and a future and those who are Supporters. It’s the Yin and Yang factor if you like. Try to look for the good out there, and I hope that you will find it. Wishing you good luck, good sleep – and yes, always be yourself.

    Like

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