The public perception of prisoners


The 'holiday camp' tag is frequently quoted in newspaper articles about the conditions in UK prisons.

It's a holiday camp, not a prison. They have a better life in there than what they have outside.

(Member of the public quoted in national newspaper)

The reality is that there is a great deal of public ignorance about the life inside prison walls and a lack of understanding about the effect the loss of freedom has on the 85,000 men, women and young people serving custodial sentences. It isn't until a close friend or family member is imprisoned that most of us realise that prisoners come from all backgrounds and most are there because they have made some really poor decisions in their lives, not because they are intrinsically bad. Prison really isn't how it is usually shown in TV dramas.

I remember standing on the edge of the grounds a couple of days after I had been transferred and gazing out across a nearby meadow. Powerful emotions swelled inside me. I had forgotten what it was like to look into the distance.

(Male prisoner after move to open prison)

For anyone working with children and families in any context, who wants to gain greater insight into life inside, a look into the pages of Inside Time, the paper circulated within UK prisons will be enlightening. The articles, letters, poems and news give a picture of the life inside prisons of all categories for men and women. The overall picture is of wasted talent, and a mix of despair and hope for the future - certainly not a life in a holiday camp.

Falling wall