In this day and age, we have members of society whom believe prison is profitable enough to the point where citizens are choosing to leave their families and sacrifice their freedom to sell drugs and other contraband. We also have members of society whom believe that the average offender doesn’t plan on becoming incarcerated. Some people even believe that a percentage of offenders become involved in criminality by sheer emotional distress.
Throughout my incarceration I have met numerous offenders, most were not willing to share their experiences but some were. The following are some of the accounts I’ve had the privilege of listening to. The first account started with is life before prison. This gentleman explained to me how he is the child of a migrant who was brought to the UK at the tender age of four. He told me how he grew up in a single parent family and that his parent could not read or write, so getting a job for a start was a very slim possibility for his parent, so poverty and council tower block accommodation was the inevitable. Just from hearing the first part of his story I realised he fit into an ever-growing demographic of migrant child raised in poverty in the UK. He then told me how relying on his parent for any support wasn’t an option. He told me he did not want to do crime but he had to get it by any means necessary just to survive, even if that meant participating in criminal activities. He also told me that since coming to prison he has realised how much he misses freedom and that he’s decided to go straight. From listening to this persons account, I understood that some prisoners feel as though life pushes them so hard that they feel as though they have to push back and that to me is sad because from my perspective, if they had received some sort of intervention during the early stages them maybe they wouldn’t go down the path to prison.
Another inmate shared his story with me. He stated that he is a part of a gang and he loves it because it’s exciting. He explained to me that there is a sense of belonging and he gets paid well, so he’ll go back to them when he’s released. He also stated that many people in his family, including his parents are gang members so that was the path he decided was right for him. From his statement I understood that some offenders feel as though a life of crime is their calling and they are not afraid to go to prison because everyone around them do crime and have connections inside prison as well as the outside world. Two people, two paths, bonded forever by prison.
In my opinion the path to prison isn’t as straightforward as people think. As I’ve established there are different reasons for offenders to walk the path of prison. Sometimes there are socio-economic reasons as to why a person goes down the path to prison. Sometimes a person just chooses to go down the path of prison and sometimes the lines are so blurred it’s difficult to definitively explain why a person goes down the path of prison. There are many warning signs to stop offenders from offending and going to prison, like the police however, what I’ve found is that if the positive reasons outweigh the negatives, people are often willing to risk sacrificing their freedom for a little temporary happiness.