The project went well today. We have a number of people who have taken part and people are feeling less apprehensive about the cameras.
Today I am going for lunch outside at a place that a lot have been talking about-it is called south point. Inmates talk about it as a place to be alone and to think, to have privacy and look out to the sea and think about the future. The mainland (or ‘freedom’) is constantly visible from the island and on a clear and quiet day, you can hear the cars and see the people going about their lives. We sat at this spot shown here for two hours talking and drinking coffee. Peter talked about his difficulties with authority and his life involving drugs. At one point, he said “just close your eyes”. We sat in silence with our eyes closed for a couple of minutes and the quietness was intense. In contrast, my life back at home is somewhat more hectic. Not only do I talk the majority of time but with a young family and hundreds of undergraduate students on our criminology courses at Portsmouth, I find it difficult to stop.
The past year has been rushed to say the least. But as I sat here- what irony it was, to find peace in a prison. I considered the impact this same experience has on inmates, who may have come from chaotic lives and experience additional pressures and problems. It must be emotional for them too. I found myself once again close to tears. There is something punishing about this experience. To stop and hear nothing was uncomfortable for me personally. You have nothing to hide behind or distract yourself away from. You are just you. In this sense, it became a place of peace.
We packed up the flask of coffee and got back onto our mode of transport for the day (a horse and cart), the inmate turned to me and said, “do you want to go fast?” After spending some time talking about his need to take extreme risks in life, I did feel a little scared and with a nervous laugh declined the offer and said “nice and slow please”. With that, the horse bolted and ran back all the way in the snow. This was the first time at BastØy I actually feared for my personal safety, but I could not help but laugh.