My First Xmas and New Year in a Women’s Prison (by Andrea)
Andrea - A 28-year-old Scottish woman writing from a maximum-security prison in England. She suffered years of domestic violence, and was arrested for the attempted murder of her most recent boyfriend after he punched her in the face. She pled guilty to wounding, and is scheduled for release in 2010.
Christmas morning arrived. Up for work as usual for four others and myself. Everyone’s emotions were undecided or so it seemed. Had Santa Claus left his sack full of women suffering from PMT?
The morning passed with no problems. In fact, it was a wing full of yawns and wishes of “Merry Christmas.” Too good to be true it was.
Lunchtime arrived. Moods soon changed. There were many complaints about the overcooked turkey and half-raw sprouts. What did they expect really?
After an hour or so, arguments began between inmates. Threats were made. It got out of control. Officers stood watching every move, monitoring the trouble brewing. Soon there were women face to face, then fist-to-fist conflicts. A few of us watched the fighting from the top landing.
Officers locked up some of the women to calm things down. But the calm only lasted a short while. The afternoon continued in the same way.
It was sad listening to and watching all of this. Thoughts entered my mind of being at home with my children. It was just all too much for me to take in.
Boxing Day came. I was a completely different person. Not knowing that it was the start of an emotional breakdown. The officers noticed the change in me quite quickly. A decision was made to move me to another wing – “the quiet wing” – just before the New Year arrived.
Settling in, I felt more relaxed, but still unwell. I was put on medication by the doctor, which calmed me down a little.
New Year was so different to Christmas. Peaceful. Happy. No fights or arguments. A wing full of women in high spirits.
The countdown started. Roars of delight. Singing and cheering. Blasts and bangs from over the wired walls. The most beautiful view of colour lighting up the midnight sky as fireworks in their hundreds flew through the open air.
Soon after, silence was all you could hear behind these concrete walls. It was all over. The New Year was here. We were back to reality.
It’s an experience to be repeated one last time for me!
Click here for Andrea’s previous blog.
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Shaun P. Attwood