Matt says: “my time in prison has been an experience, one I could’ve done without”

“My time in prison has been an experience, one I could’ve done without… Do you know, LandWorks has been a godsend to me, it really has, and you need more of these units around the country, definitely. They get you in touch with humans again, instead of people in bloody black suits. You’re just like a big family unit here. It’s the LandWorks family, I think, and I’ve told many people in prison, it’s just one big family… You welcome people in and it’s great. I think it’s wonderful. You learn different things. Like the woodturning, I got on well with that. I’d never done it before. I’ve always been able to talk to people, as you can bloody well tell… you’ve seen both sides of me, the softer side. It is a very emotional thing, hellish. I think of everything that’s going on, on the outside, and it could be a lot easier, but when you’ve got problems out there, it’s very, very difficult… I’ve enjoyed my time here a great deal. Everybody here is brilliant. If you’ve got a problem, you know you’ve got somebody to talk to.

In prison you’re so bloody lonely. It’s not so bad on my wing, but when I was on the main wings, when that door gets slammed of a night, that is awful because all you’ve got with you is your thoughts and bugger me, don’t your head start doing overtime then. You’ve got a tv, but there’s lots of times the tv is on, you’re looking at it, but it isn’t registering, your head is turning and all this crap that’s going on in your head and you do get a lot of it.

You’re normally banged-up … I think the latest would be 6 o’clock on the main, but the beauty of where we are, is that you’re still out on the spur. So, you can go and call in people’s rooms, have a yarn or they come to you, have a cup of tea together. It just kills the time and it stops you thinking a bit, or it stops you having the time to think too much, which is great really. At one time it was a 9 o’clock release, but then you didn’t have … I always like to shower in the morning … you didn’t have time to have a shower. That’s the nice thing now, you can go and shower in the middle of the night if you want, plus you haven’t got a toilet in your cell or your room, whereas the other ones, you had it in your cell. Not particularly nice, because you should have a door between your toilet and your living area and I don’t know how they can get away with that in prison, I really don’t. I always eat in my room and I don’t know how they’ve got away with it. It’s not health and safety or hygiene. It’s not correct, but they seem to get away with it. I suppose it’s different to when they used to slop-out. I think they used to eat in dining-rooms at that time.

That’s the blessing coming here. You get a lovely midday meal. You don’t need to eat prison food when you go back of an evening. I dread bloody weekends because I have to eat it again. You can buy packs of noodles on the canteen. Quite often that’s what I eat.

I thought I would’ve been excited about getting out of prison, which I am to a degree, but I’m not as excited as I thought. I thought I would be over the moon with it. A couple of days ago, well, this week just gone, very, very low. But they reckon this is quite a normal thing after you’ve been in for a while. In fact, one of the blokes on the wing … I was having a shower one morning, I was just having a shave, I think … he came in and said “Matt, you’re not your normal self”, I said “yeah, I just feel crap, I just feel awful”, he said “that’s normal”. He’s been in several times. He said “that’s how you get”. He called it something like ‘gate fever’ or something like that. He said “that’s quite a normal thing, I’ve been like it many, many times, but believe me, as soon as you walk out that gate … don’t put too much into it, it’s not that serious”.

I’ve been out. God knows how people must feel that have never been out. There’s a chap went out today, my next-door neighbour, he hasn’t been out in two-and-a-half years, not even been to the hospital. We walked up to reception with him this morning. He was worried, getting quite emotional. He’s going back to live with his mum and the family’s all there. His brother had come down and his mate came down to pick him up, but he was a little bit shaky. He’s like me, it was his first time in. He’d never been in prison before. He’s going to give me a ring over the weekend, so I’ll see how he got on.

It’s been an experience Julie. It really has. I’ve seen lots of things on the way and not such nice things, very concerning things. The violence [in another prison] was the worst, it was incredible. I’d never seen anything like it. I’ve not lived a sheltered life, but bugger me, that was violent… The injuries I’ve seen with that. People being stabbed and beaten up, people hanging themselves. Bloody hell, I just didn’t believe it went on. There was a lot of violence there. I’ve seen people being carted away when they’ve topped themselves. Thank god I didn’t see much of that, but it does get in your head a bit. It does get in your head. The violence of it was awful. Then I got out of there and went to another prison, which wasn’t so bad…”

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