North Sea Camp feature: Prisoners ask to be given ‘second chance’

North Sea Camp
North Sea Camp

PRISONERS at North Sea Camp are all coming to the end of their sentence and the prison is attempting to provide them with a sense of responsibility.

In an open prison such as North Sea Camp this means they get certain privileges, including televisions in rooms, communal games rooms, day releases, town visits and other opportunities.

Prisoners take part in a couse to learn bricklaying skills to prepare them to find work when they are released.

Prisoners take part in a couse to learn bricklaying skills to prepare them to find work when they are released.

If the rules are broken, these benefits can be taken away.

In the worst case scenario it can mean being sent back to a closed prison.

Deputy governor Alison Turner believes this ‘Sword of Damocles’ is what stops prisoners from misbehaving

They have worked hard to come this far, and they don’t want to ruin it – and it seems many of the prisoners agree.

One prisoner said: “If we have done a while inside, we need to get back in the community.

“If you can’t mix back into the community there’s going to be problems.

“It gives you a work ethic.”

Another said it is especially important for the ‘long-timers’.

He said: “We need the community to invest in us, you need a second chance.”

Kevin, Liam and Dean are all residents of the site.

Dean, who came to the prison from a closed facility six months ago, believes many prisoners are institutionalised.

He said: “Other people have got to realise that people who spent a lot of time in closed conditions had a lot of stuff done for them. People don’t realise if you lock people up for 10,15, 20 years they become institutionalised.”

Liam, who has been at the camp since May but was sent down in February, said he had seen several offenders unable to handle the responsibility.

He added: “I’ve seen people come here and they have been really nervous about their town visits and have come back at 1pm rather than say 5pm.”

Kevin, has been in prison for 20 years. He came to North Sea Camp last February and has a parole meeting in June.

He said although it took him almost three months to settle into the prison, he now felt that he was beginning to repay his debt to society. This was because he was working – a responsibility he hadn’t previously enjoyed.

He said: “I never had that since I was put away, you do find it’s preparing you. My punishment was to get put inside and repay my debt to society... society’s kept me in here so how was I paying it back?”