Not looking for any sympathy - I've said what I did on this thread and the other one - just don't want to keep going in to it.
A few of you asked me to answer my own questions from the last thread based on my own time in Mountjoy so here goes:
What is it like at first when you go in?
That’s probably the worst bit of all. After being sentenced I had to spend some time waiting around for the prison van. During the hours waiting to go to prison I just felt so sick inside and very nervous of what was going to happen. The walls just seemed so intimidating when you are going in and realising that this is your home for the next few months. The first impression I had was of the noise and the smell of the place. It was a completely strange environment and you feel really lost – not knowing what to do or what’s what. The first while there was a fair bit of waiting around. You have to get searched and then strip off for a shower – it’s not as bad as you see in some films but it still feels pretty rotten. They take anything you’re not allowed have – mobile phone, wallet keys etc and you don’t get these again until you are released. You get weighed, measured, photographed as well. You’re then asked loads of questions and forms are filled out and you get some prison clothes and other bits and pieces. You get to see the doctor and are asked loads more questions about yourself , how you feel (not great) and if you are on drugs and your history.
You then get taken to your cell. I really picked up on the noise around at that stage and all the gates that had to be unlocked and locked to let you go through. There are 4 wings with 3 landings on each although some are closed at the moment. Walking to the cell with all your stuff you just feel like everybody is watching you. I got some comments along the way but nothing too bad. In a way it was good to get into the cell as all I wanted to do was to get my head together. Hearing that cell door closing and being locked up brings you back to the reality of where you are although you get used to that sound after a while as it happens 4 or 5 times a day. The first few hours were just me thinking how I was going to get through this and reliving all the stuff I had heard about getting raped or beaten up but I got myself together before I was out and it wasn’t as bad as I had been imagining.
One of the things is that the other lads would want to know all about you – what you had done, where you were from, who you knew who had been there before. It’s probably better not to give too much away especially about your family or who you know as that can cause problems later if somebody wants to pressure you to do things.
Are all the scenes of getting shouted at and strip searched and hassled right?
No it’s not like the films or on TV. Yeah you do get searched and have to strip and that but it is more relaxed than on TV. The guards don’t be shouting at you – just telling you what you need to do and there are no cavity searches or anything like that. They don’t make you do it in front of anyone else either. Best thing is just to do what you’re told and get it over with. You realise though that you’re not your own person any more and you just have to follow somebody else’s rules.
Do you usually go to prison on your own or do they take you in in groups?I went in with two others both who had been there before. You get taken from the court in a prison van and you’re handcuffed to a guard.
How do the prison officers act towards you?
As I said before most of the guards were OK. Once you didn’t cause trouble or try to be a hard man they were normally OK. There were one or two who would pull you up for anything and everything and give you a bit of a hard time but mostly they were OK. There were a few you could have a bit of a chat with and would try to sort out if you were having any problems. I didn’t see them beating up anybody or anything like that although I heard stories about that but you’re not sure what to believe. Anyway, if anything kicked off they would be around and would do what they needed to do to break things up. I had this idea that most of them would treat you badly because they saw you as lowlife but as long as you gave them a bit of respect most of them were alright – a few miserable ones though. After all these are the people who control almost everything you do so it’s not in your interest to piss them off. I have to say that I found it easier to accept getting what to do by the older guards but resented it a bit more from the ones that were about my age or even younger.
Are they looking for you to slip up and break rules or are they reasonable?
What happens if you get into trouble in prison and what can they do to you?
As I said most of them were reasonable and once you weren’t causing troubles they were OK with you. Most of the problems are around people getting caught with drugs or getting into scraps or stuff going missing. If something like that happens you get reported to the governor, you get to tell your side of the story and then he makes his decision. You could just get a warning or lose some privileges like losing your TV, getting visits, make calls or get recreation time in the evening or aren’t allowed smoke. In other cases you can get locked up for 23 hours for a few days or can lose some of your remission. There are special cells too where they put people who are causing trouble or fighting or whatever – never got sent there.
When you go in you get told the day when you should be released. You get a quarter of your sentence off for good behaviour – so my 4 months became 3 months. If you get into something serious in prison the governor can add back on some of these days and you have to serve more of your sentence.
If prisoners feel like they are getting a raw deal they can speak to the governor. There is also a thing called the Visiting Committee that come from outside to make sure things are going OK. You get some lads trying it on with them all the time.
I only got into a bit of trouble once over something stupid so I had nothing really to complain about.
How do the other prisoners generally treat you – never been in prison before?
That was the thing I was most worried about. It was mixed – some of the others thought they ran the place, some were always looking for an excuse to have a go, some seemed to be spaced out and some were alright and decent enough. I met many interesting characters but I’ll keep all that to myself. A lot of people were in there due to drugs or some had just made a few mistakes. That was the way I saw myself.
Some of them just seemed to be out to cause trouble and would take on anybody who looked at them funny but you can more or less stay away from all that.
I’ll be honest I got hassled by some of the other prisoners – don’t want to go into it too much but at the start it was just general slagging and then a bit of pushing and shoving. Some are so into getting drugs they were checking out about visits and trying to get you to do things you shouldn’t. The best advice on the last topic I had was just to stay away from all that and I did. I think once you go down that road you’re in serious **** and it’s worth taking a bit of aggro and not getting involved.
As a first timer you are likely to get a bit of a slagging and people are looking to take advantage of you but if you handle yourself OK – don’t make out to be a hard man or make promises or accept favours you are generally OK. A lot of people talk crap and will try and convince you of anything but it’s best not to get too close.
There were definitely groups in there who were watching out for each other – some were involved in crimes together and others just seemed to know each other from living close enough. It was just best not to piss anybody else off and stay away from those who shouted loudest.
Most of the others I got on well enough with and were decent to me and that made the time easier. If you don’t want to get into trouble and just get through your sentence there are enough OK people in there to support you. Like me I’m sure they were no angels but when you are just looking forward to getting out, you just want to get along.
I met up with somebody I knew through somebody else and there were some others from where I come from
There were a few people who I actually became friendly with and I have seen 1 of them since getting out as he was released before me.