Prison tour is a real eye-opener
A TOUR of Littlehey Prison is an eye-opening experience. Far removed from the filthy, barren, iron landings of television dramas, the prison buildings appear more like a school than a jail. Wing corridors are adorned with prisoners artwork and notice boa
A TOUR of Littlehey Prison is an eye-opening experience. Far removed from the filthy, barren, iron landings of television dramas, the prison buildings appear more like a school than a jail.
Wing corridors are adorned with prisoners' artwork and notice boards detailing services from diabetic clinics to "buddy" support networks for new inmates.
There are men sweeping the landings of the education wing, as the prisoners themselves are responsible for cleaning and maintaining communal areas, as well as their own cells.
Televisions are found in most cells, but rather than an entertainment device in front of which prisoners laze all day, they are a tool to help prevent the men becoming institutionalised.
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A link with the outside world, the small screens also represent a treat that can be removed at any time.
Posters promoting educational courses including book-keeping, basic literary skills, and Open University courses, line the corridors outside classrooms.
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Computers allow inmates to study for Clait examinations and the library offers a range of books to support coursework.
Ten workshops in a large hangar-like building on the site employ prisoners in fields such as carpentry, mechanics, and vehicle body-work repair.
In the electronics workshop men adapt everyday gadgets such as microwaves and kettles for use by blind and deaf people.
Outside, the flowerbeds and lawns are also maintained by the inmates, who have the opportunity to study horticulture.
Recycling is now a part of prison life - paper, glass, and aluminium are collected in separate bins and waste food is converted to compost for the gardens.
Littlehey remains a prison though - with iron bars, high wire fences and plenty of locks.
Four sniffer dogs and their handlers are kept busy with drug searches.
On visitors' days every person - prisoner or visitor - is subject to the procedure. The prison operates a zero tolerance policy regarding drugs - any visitors caught with drugs are prosecuted and prisoners are subject to mandatory testing.