Jail Break – out and up the Sycamore Tree

Posted: 1 November 2014 in Prisons, Understanding Others
Tags: , ,

(c) www.pact.org.uk

Why will 20 to 25 guys sign up to come to a victim awareness course? It will last 2 hours for six weeks, have homework that will be assessed as pass or fail. And let’s face it – you are a prisoner and this is a course about victims. It’s not a gym session, a baking training class where you taste the good you lean to make, or even chapel where you can tell God how fed up you are.

So why turn up and get made to feel guilty, to feel like something the dog has just left under a bush? Well, firstly and foremostly, I’m not here to make people feel guilty, not to feel like something I don’t want to step into (squish).

Offenders come for a variety of reason. For instance:

  • Turn my life around.  Mohammad wants to restart his life. He‘s already asked to meet his victim. He’s up for whatever the next six weeks brings.
  • It is on the sentence plan for some. Ramon joins us because he has to. But he’s chilled about it. He’s going to give this “a hearing”. Stefan is not so relaxed. Ostensibly polite, there is a lot of passive aggressive body language, especially in group discussions. Well, he’s not causing trouble, so I’m not complaining.
  • “Boredom is busting my *alls”. Wayne is bored. He is skinny, hyper active and wants to get out of his cell, for whatever reason. Also, the fizzy drinks (Fanta, lemonade, and chocolate or nutty biscuits are nice to have). He pockets a few “for later” (or to trade?).
  • Irfan has a lively mind, and is somewhat argumentative. He is happy to be here simply to meet new people: to meet the Sycamore Tree volunteers. And also to meet people on other wings.  “You don’t get as many opportunities to meet and talk with guys from other wings as you from the outside would think.”

It is a bit like that in church too. And also in mosque too? People turn up for a variety of reasons. After a while people get something from it, or they stop coming. And in Sycamore Tree too, people stop coming. Even if it’s on a sentence plan, there is no compulsion to attend.

Some guys slip into neutral, cease contributing, say nothing much, sit cross armed and look lively only when The Governor turns up at the end. Stefan is one. Others, like Ramon, get interested and they get the general idea. They get voluble, and while they mix different issues up into a mental porridge, it is a positive movement.

Keep going Ramon, don’t stop. What’s good for you will be good for your family. And good for the folk in your neighbourhood too.



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