Danny Kruger reports from his company’s work with ex-offendersby Danny Kruger / January 27, 2010 / Leave a comment
We take the ferry to the Isle of Wight and then a taxi ride to HMP Camphill. Sanie was ready for us in the resettlement block, with the usual prison pallor on his light brown face and the usual intelligent look in his eyes. He was ready for change, he said. But it wouldn’t be easy.
When Sanie was small he couldn’t sit still so he was put on Ritalin. He liked it so much he used to administer it himself; till his mum locked it up; till she locked him out of the house. But he’d break in, work out her hiding place and ransack it.
He’s thin and wiry, with the hunched, driven walk that short men need: I might be little but I’m lethal. And he is, potentially. When he left home at 14 he ended up living in a squat with some older drug dealers. To pay his way, he was their enforcer, sent out on simple missions of violence, to beat up people who owed them money.
He told us all this at Camphill, and added: “I like the taste of blood in my mouth.” Apparently this is not uncommon: the salt, the association with adrenalin. A lot of our members have a crisis habit. They feel present, purposeful and alive only in chaos: somehow, amongst conflict and collapse, they are safe.
After the trip to Camphill we found Sanie a room, but he didn’t take it. He met a girl. She had a newborn baby, by another man then away in prison, and got pregnant with Sanie straightaway: soon she was carrying a 14-week babe in arms, and a 12-week baby inside. That’s when it ended: Sanie got into a fight with her brother and had to be arrested. The baby was aborted in the end, he heard. But he’s got two kids, in Acton, and that’s enough for now, he thinks.
Sanie came to see us last week from Portsmouth. The journey needed enlivening by going wrong. He lost his wallet on the coach, so he had to walk from Victoria, first to us in King’s Cross and then to Acton to see his babymother: four hours on foot. We gave him directions on the phone but he didn’t follow them.
Sanie is bright and eloquent, and always polite. He knows himself, and tries to take help, but the yearning for chaos…