Prison is a difficult place to give up drugs and tell the truthby Peter Wayne / July 20, 1996 / Leave a comment
We might have been waiting for Godot. Eight men in a cell, seated on white cardboard chairs, side by side, four of us along each opposite wall. Our ears prick up. Out of the early morning silence comes a chilling scream which echoes down the corridor outside. A man under close restraint. “Bent up,” as they say. And whoever they’ve got is putting up a struggle. “You’ll do as you’re fuckin’ told,” a screw threatens. “On your knees in the corner. Hands behind your back. Don’t turn round till you hear the door lock behind you.” The scream again. This time muffled. A cell door bangs firmly shut. “Bastards,” the man sitting next to me murmurs sotto voce.
Although the governor never arrives for adjudication before ten o’clock, regulations state that all prisoners on report must arrive at the segregation unit at eight sharp. That’s what we were doing there in the first place-“nicked” pending confirmation of our first random mandatory drugs test.
While we waited, I tried my best to concentrate on a book review I was writing for the Spectator. The first prisoner was called in. He returned long-faced and positive for opiates. Thirty-five days remission. The second man was luckier. Negative for cannabis. Case dismissed. The third went in… Positive opiates. Another 35 days. Fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh went in and and came out. By the time I was called to be told (God be praised) that I had tested negative for both cannabis and opiates, a full total of 22 and a half weeks’ remission had been forfeited.
It costs an average of ?453 per week to keep a man in prison, so the governor’s “awards” that morning cost the taxpayer just under ?10,000. Even supposing there are no more than six similar adjudications a week, Stocken’s bill at the end of the year comes to ?520,000. Nationally, that multiplies up to a staggering ?62.5m-or about the same as it’s going to cost to build the proposed new “control” prison for disruptive inmates. Couldn’t money have been more usefully apportioned, especially when the Home Office is demanding a 13.5 per cent cut in the prison budget?
Back in rural Stocken, the drugs “rehabilitation” unit is fighting for its financial life. One of the group, Darren, (about whose exploits regular readers of this column have already learnt) is in desperate need of counselling. “They just…