|THE PRISON ENVIRONMENT
The prison is a controlled environment.
The reason is for security, order and to prevent unauthorised
things such as drugs from getting in.
Each prison evolves its own ‘prison
culture’ – its way of life and the way that things are
done. Part of this is the development of its own language
(much consisting of swear words and the like but also
words are used or avoided for superstitious reasons).
There is a code too as to what is acceptable among prisoners
and what is not (for instance you break the code if
you inform the authorities about another prisoner’s
misdemeanor). There can be a hierarchy among the prisoners
with some being respected more than others. Traditionally
there are some that are looked down upon by the other
prisoners. Child molesters, rapists are probably more
unpopular than murderers. Some prisoners have to be
kept separate from others for their own protection.
Kindness is in very short supply
within prison but not totally lacking and prisoners
do help and encourage others so as do some of the staff.
FROM FREEDOM TO IMPRISONMENT
When a person is arrested they are
firstly taken to a police station where they are either
released after investigation or charged and brought
before a magistrate. To be arrested is very very frightening.
The Magistrate can either
- remand the person in police
custody and fix a time for an appearance in court.
- take a plea of guilty or not
guilty and try the case.
The person is then either sentenced,
remanded in custody, or granted bail or released.
A Remand is someone who is ‘on remand’
i.e. awaiting trial. They have not been found guilty
in a court of law and therefore are legally supposed
to be treated as innocent. A Remand is still in prison
and has to abide by prison rules but has more privileges
than a convicted prisoner. They are allowed more visits
and letters, do not have to have a prison haircut (thought
they have to wear prison uniform) and in some institutions
they are allowed to have additional items such as sweets
brought in to them.
Prisoners are not infrequently kept
on remand for many many months. Their discomforture
is increased by their not knowing what will happen to
them at and after their trial.
For more detailed information about
the trial please refer to Section 4 on the Judicial
Procedure. Suffice it to say here that the trial is
another stressful event for the one being tried and
should you already be visiting the person concerned
we would suggest that you try to attend the trial to
give them moral support and friendship. It is beneficial
to the friendship for them to know that you still accept
them even after you have heard what has been said in
court. However, of course it is important to respect
their wishes, and should they not wish you to be present
at their trial, then you should certainly not go. In
our experience, however it has always been welcomed.
If the person is found to be not
guilty, they are immediately released. If found guilty
then they are sentenced. This is not always to a prison
sentence (for more information please refer to section