Advice for Custody

 

What do you need to take with you when going to Court?

  • Take with you a week’s worth of clothing in a bag.
  • Take with you some money in cash.
  • Phone numbers, addresses and dates of birth for everyone you may wish to contact. You will need to write this information on forms.

What happens at Court after Sentencing?

  • You are taken from the court by Officers to the court cell.
  • You will not have time or be given an opportunity to see your family.
  • Ensure you have nothing on you that you don’t wish to take to prison, i.e. your phone, expensive watch, credit cards.
  • Your property/clothing that you brought with you is gone through, logged and put in to large see through bags.
  • You then complete the necessary paperwork with the Officers.
  • You might be given an opportunity to see your solicitor, but in the cell rather than back in the Court room area.

Transportation to Local Prison

  • You will initially be transported from the Court to the local prison to that particular Court – so for example, HMP Norwich is the local Category B remand prison for Norwich Crown Court.
  • You will be inducted into this prison, but depending on the length of your sentence, you are likely to be ‘allocated’ out eventually to a prison that runs rehabilitation programmes for men who have committed sexual offences. Such as a specific sex offender rehabilitation prison (e.g. HMP Bure, HMP Whatton, HMP Littlehey).

Reception – what things to expect.

  • You will be subject to a general assessment.
  • You may be subject to a general mental health screening assessment. In some prisons this will be completed by a Nurse, but not always.
  • Your belongings will be taken from you and clerked in.
  • You will not be allowed to have any medication in your own possession – this is standard procedure in a prison environment initially. So if you have medication, take it with you to Court and you can then hand it over at the time of assessment/induction and provide your medical history to the staff who can convey this information onto the computer system and to Health Care.
  • You will be provided with prison issue clothing, however any clothing/property you brought with you which is allowed (varies from Prison to Prison) will be handed back to you for you to take with you to your cell.
  • You will be placed on a ‘vulnerable prison wing or unit’ – which means you are in a separate part of the prison than non-sexual offender prisoners.

Things to Consider

  • Keep your prolife low – do not tell people about your convictions.
  • Be polite to everyone.
  • Do not argue or get into an argument with anyone. Some prisoners may be taking drugs and will be more volatile, so even if you are right about something, it isn’t worth arguing about.
  • If you have a problem, tell a staff member and ask for advice.
  • Be polite to staff and expect a variety of staff responses, depending on how busy they are – sometimes they will have time to answer your queries, and other times they will not and will tell you to go away and come back etc.
  • Do not argue with staff.
  • Time is usually allocated for Officers to receive queries in the morning, this is the best time to talk to them if you need something actioning.
  • Do not divulge lots of personal information to other prisoners about yourself. For example, don’t tell people about your history, job, money etc.
  • There is a system for finding out answers to key queries you may have via small touch screen kiosks (several are usually on each wing) – the “application” or “app” – so put in an app to the relevant department if you are seeking information or clarification.
  • You will be allocated an “Offender Supervisor” – this is sometimes a trained Probation Officer who works in the prison, but in many prisons will be a Prison Officer who works in the “Offender Management Unit (OMU)”.
  • The OMU unit will be able to let you know what sort of things or courses are on offer at the prison.
  • Prisons operate on a prisoner level system which gives you certain entitlements. These vary from prison to prison and are run on a points system dependent on behaviour. Being “Enhanced” provides things like, more facilities on the wing, additional time “unlocked”, an additional visit and longer visits.
  • Money is earnt from attending work or education, which can then be spent on phone credit, snacks, food or luxury items.
  • Money on top of your earnings for work or education can be sent in via secure payment (https://www.secure-payment-services.com/) or via postal order. The quickest method is secure payment.

Typical Day

  • The prison will run a “regime”. Absolutely nothing deviates from this, this is how prisons run so they can operate as smoothly as possible. So you can’t ask for it to be changed for any reason. It is not negotiable, but you will soon get used to the routine.
  • This means you will have periods when you are ‘unlocked’ and periods when you are ‘locked up’ in your cell.
  • Unlock usually happens in the morning, but no breakfast is generally issued
  • During morning unlock, some prisons you will need to ask Officers for a stock of cereal, others hand it out with the midday meal. Milk is provided with lunch.
  • There will be a ‘movement’ period when you are expected to move around the prison if you are going to any activity, or for example to Healthcare.
  • There may be a lunch time lock-up period – when you are locked up with your lunch back in your cell.
  • There may be an “association” period, possibly in the evening – which means you are free to be out on the unit/landing and can chat with other inmates, or play pool or cards etc.
  • Weekdays normally have one exercise period, and weekends two. This is when you are allowed outside if you wish to go to the exercise yard.

Keep Yourself Busy

  • Find out about what the prison offers – apply for work, or any type of education courses or groups that you can do. For example, client X completed a Trauma Group through the prison’s ‘Wellbeing Service/HealthCare’ and found this really helpful.
  • Do crosswords, puzzles or play games. Games are usually available from a wing prisoner, normally referred to as a CISC rep.
  • Reading material – there should be a prison library. You can apply to visit the library via the Kiosk machines or request a daily newspaper.
  • See what is on offer, any time in the gym?
  • Any other groups or activities you may want to attend to pass time away and perhaps learn something new.

Visiting Times for Family or Friends

  • Each prison will have visiting times on the website when your family or friend(s) can come.
  • This has to be pre-arranged in advance of any visit.
  • You have to get the person you want to visit cleared through the security visit system first – they have to be vetted, so you will have to complete a form and give some basic details about them including name, address, phone number and date of birth.
  • Once cleared, each time you want a person to visit, you have to send out/complete a form (VO) to book their visit with them – they have to send it back in.
  • Some prisons now are more advanced and visits can be booked on line/electronically or by you via the kiosks.
  • 2 of the best ways Client X found to keep in constant contact with friends and family were (These need to be setup by those you wish to communicate with):
    • Email a Prisoner (https://www.emailaprisoner.com/)
      • Service which allows you to receive printed emails and images usually within 1 or 2 working days. If the sender chooses to, you can then reply via this method using an attached piece of paper with a code on which you simply place in the internal mailbox and it is then sent back for you.
    • Prison Voicemail (https://prisonvoicemail.com/)
      • Service which allows people to leave you a voicemail when it is convenient for them, and for you to pick up when you have access to the phone.
      • Should your friend or family member be online (Via a mobile app) when you listen to the voicemail, it will also try to connect you to them to talk directly.