Michael talks about his experience of release.
I thought I was actually not getting back out [of prison]. I got released straight from court, so I got the see-through bags that you get when you’re arrested at the police station. They put your stuff in the van with you when you go to court. I could have gone to a different prison… or I could be going out. I didn’t have any family in court. Nobody knew I was in court. I didn’t tell them. They knew I was in jail, but I didn’t want to give them hope.
The judge gives you your verdict… you go back to your cell, they’ve got to get all your details from the prison, tell them you’re not going back, then they sign you out, sign you off, ‘See you later’.
I’ll tell you exactly what I did when I come out. I went to the bank, I went to [a fast food restaurant]… Then I went straight home, got changed, went to the shop, got a bottle of whiskey, lemonade as well.
To be honest, when I came out, my head was all over the place. [Due to the nature of my offence] I lost out on a lot of stuff, family and stuff… So my head wasn’t really with it. I just isolated myself, just stayed in.
Then when I went probation the next day, one of the [resettlement project] workers was there… To be honest it’s [the workers] team I spend a lot of time with. I see probation once a week; he’s actually alright my probation worker, he actually does help me.
I moved back into my room at my auntie’s and just locked my door. My auntie was alright, she knows. [Other family members] have been in jail, and they did the same thing, for a week or two, they locked themselves in. I presume other people do too, that’s what I did. I do keep my bedroom very tidy. They all did the same thing when I spoke to them. I thought it was normal, I just sat there… it was just normal: go to your room, lock the door. That’s how it is. Locked the door, sat there with my telly and PlayStation.
I didn’t leave the house properly, unless I had to go probation, for about two weeks, and probation’s only down the road. Wanted to get in the room, didn’t want to go out.
At the minute [the resettlement project] are just getting me to the stage where I’m ready for work. We’re at stage one at the minute. I did used to take too many drugs, but [the project] sorted me out on that, and now I don’t take drugs at all. I tell you what, [the project] have been very useful for me.
The first two weeks is… well, you know, in that two to three weeks the person who’s just got out of jail is more likely to reoffend. If you’ve got nowhere to go, nowhere to live, and nobody there for you, then the only place there for you is jail really. Like loads of my mates, they’re in every so many weeks.
It’s three square meals a day, somewhere to sleep and your mates come in and out as they go. It’s certainly easier [laughs]. It’s definitely easier. If you’ve got something to be out for, then obviously it’s not the place for you.
You get back into your old ways don’t you? If you’ve been into something like drugs or whatever, that’s what you’re gonna go back to when you come out… You have to stay away from all that.
I’m doing fine now. I’m at [the project] most of the time, so, yeah.
I don’t lock the [bedroom] door now. I do when I’ve got my mates in, or a girl round, just for privacy. But if I’m on my own, I don’t anymore. I did it for a good five weeks, easy. It was a long time. I never did that before, unless I had people round, every now and then. I had a weird routine, didn’t leave for two weeks; locked the door for five.
Tagged with the theme: Transition to community