Damaged in prison I

This post is not about rape or violence in prison by other inmates or prison guards. I am talking about how prison affects you as a person based on first hand experience.

My type of prison

My prison is (at the moment of writing) a low security facility. Basically, there are several buildings surrounded by a fence not unlike a military object, probably lesser secured. I have a key to my room and can lock and unlock my "cell". The building is locked during the night, otherwise I can walk around freely in the inner area. There is a kitchen building, loundry, training facilities and 2 workshops, where most of us are spending the day doing some low level daily work. The facilities directors underlines that they are not running after escapees. Whoever leaves this facility without permission is barred from return and has to spend their sentences at a high security facility.

Out of control

Some might say that this is merely a hotel, but they couldn't be more wrong. Prison means loss of freedom. This means a lot more than those few words imply. Being free means doing what you want whenever you want. In some high security prisons you can't even go to the loo without granted permission. There have to be two guards to unlock your cell, walk you to the restroom and follow you back. Reading a book or not seems to be the biggest decision one is allowed to make. Here at the low security facility, the space available to me is much larger. During certain hours I might play tabletennis with other inmates, watch TV, read books and even do some gardening. For everything else I have to send in an application, which might be granted or not. And that depends on the whim of the one in charge.

How I like my coffee

Everything is organized, like it or not. Except for medical reasons, you eat what they serve. I shouldn't complain, because the food is much better here than at a retirement home. But it is still cheap and the schedule is mostly fixed. You are told what to do and what to eat. In some sense, five year olds enjoy a greater freedom than I currently do. 

Once a week we can buy tobacco, sweets, candy, toilet articles and instant coffee. I prefer regular coffee like the one we get at breakfast. There is no way to get hold of such one according to the rules. One day I had the mishap of a torn shoe lace. To replace that I had to write an application, had to wait for two days and ended up with paying a day allowance for that. Normally, I would the laces from another pair, buy a new one on the way from work from pocket money.


No, here one has to ask for everything and one cannot expect it to be granted - it depends on the whim of another person. It is a very simple life. Newcomers are eager and write many applications in their first weeks. After several denials, resignation sets in and one merely follows the daily pattern. In some sense the brain shuts down. 

Now, there is life after prison (or so I hope), but one is not prepared for that. Just taking the telephone and calling someone for after prison work arrangement becomes difficult. I have been trying to reach my former employer - the hours the phone is working and overlaps with the office hours are few. It gets harder and harder to pick up the phone for a new trial.


  1. I'm vegan and I've always wondered: If you're vegetarian or vegan, are you allowed to eat according to that in prison? I would be very interested in all the information you can humanely give. Greetings

    1. Meals in prison are considered to be the highlights of the day (here, in my country), both by inmates and staff. If meals are bad, then one gets prison riots - that is well known. The kitchen stuff does it bests to serve as good food as they can within the budget.

      We had vegetarian, pork-free, gluten-free and lactose reduced meals. We had one hobby-vegetarian, who abandoned his meat-free style from time to time (and we ended up wasting food). Vegan is more of a challenge - i don't know they could accommodate that. But there are limits to picky eaters.

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  3. I've just caught up with the news that you are in prison. I'm sorry to read that. I hope you are coping well.

    1. Not 'are', have been. The worst thing is actually the time after, when you try to get the life back together.