Posted by: carolg1849 | March 18, 2009

Self harm in prison

Itv1 Holloway- reviewed by Tom Sutcliffe of the Independent

self-harm1Holloway, a new ITV1 series about the largest women’s prison in Europe, depicted a peculiarly useless form of education, punitive incarceration, although the regime in Holloway’s special wing for young prisoners may not have looked nearly punitive enough to the short-sharp-shock brigade. The film began by goading your inner Tory into the light as Charlotte and Katy compared notes about grievous bodily harm. “I love the before, when you’re about to hit someone… and I love the after, when you step away from them,” confessed Charlotte, with no evident sign of remorse. “I don’t know why, but I just automatically pick up weapons,” said Katy, who was inside for glassing someone in the face. Throw away the key, you thought.

But then you learnt more about the girls who were in there. Most of them had spent childhoods in care, nearly a third had experienced sexual abuse and 90 per cent of them had some sort of mental-health problem or addiction. Seventy per cent of them self-harm, rendering the idea of a punitive sentence somewhat ridiculous. The warders had to spend most of their time making sure that they don’t punish themselves. Twenty-year-old Kirstin rolled up her sleeves to reveal forearms like a prison calendar, as if she’d marked off the days in her own flesh. The only thing was that Kirstin was absolutely dreading getting back “on road”, as they called freedom. “Any complaints, any comments?” asked the officer processing her release. “I love this prison,” replied Kirstin, and within hours, as she and everyone who knew her had predicted, she was back in court, hoping for readmission to the one place in the world where she felt safe at night.


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