Prison, Press and Policy

A prison poem written at HMP Highpoint in autumn 2015. It is something of a rant about prison conditions, the gutter press view of them and the policy that makes all this garbage happen. Despite stupid rumours, nobody likes being in prison and nobody that completes a reasonable sentence can escape the trauma….except, of course, those career criminals that regard incarceration as an occupational hazard.

Prison, Press and Policy


Prison’s a place through which people pass

Victims themselves, for the most, alas

The good, the ugly, the very bad

The weird, the sad, the totally mad


The weak, the dim, the extremely bright

Those that use their might to fight

The sick, the thick, those prone to panic

The lonely, forgotten, the absolute manic


But all observers know little more

Of how insiders lived before

For prison changes those inside

No person can resist the tide


Those that scream out in the night

Know not how to share their plight

Locked in cells within their minds

Breaking from the chain that binds


Their past unto their present life

Prior peace to current strife

The events preceding matter less

Than how to survive this human mess


The highs, the lows, the sighs, the blows

That make, that break, the joys, the woes

Those outside should be aware

That nobody wants to be in here

Even those that work within

Seek some release from the infernal din


The gutter press that makes most laugh

Most of the inmates, officers, staff

With lurid tales of a luxury lifestyle

Those media lies make most of us smile


They pretend to know what goes on in jail

The Sun, the Express, the Daily Mail

Yet their sole concern is to make more sales

By twisting the truth in their tawdry tales


None of them pose the simple question

“Why are we putting people in prison?

Why do so many serve so much time?

And how does this help to combat crime?”


How many innocent men must suffer

To get a story on their front cover?

Do they really care about people

Must they shout out from every steeple

What the least informed prefer to hear

With no attempt to be sincere?


For prison may be a terrible place

But conviction is its own disgrace

Duration doesn’t reduce offending

It serves no purpose worth defending


We lock people up for years and years

Whilst ignoring the sins of our friends and peers

This is no plea for immunity

Let the convicted contribute to the community!