Protective Custody

Some ‘conversations’ I have had recently have reminded me how lucky I am to be experiencing ‘lockdown’ where I am.

A friend’s sister, who has some mental health problems anyway, is living in one room in a shared flat with no outside space and is really struggling to cope.

Carolee, a retired professional nurserywoman who writes a brilliant and informative blog about her garden (read it here)commented on my post Magnificent May ‘Such a pretty “jail” during this lockdown.’ – an interesting turn of phrase.

I also recalled that until this pandemic I had only heard the term ‘lockdown’ in relation to prisons when there was rioting. This extract from an article in The Guardian newspaper confirms that my memory was fucntioning correctly.

“It was only in the 1970s that “lockdown” began to mean an extended state of confinement for inmates of prisons or psychiatric hospitals, and thereafter any period of enforced isolation for security. Originally, in 19th-century America, a “lock-down” was a strip of wood or peg that secured the poles or a raft together when timber was transported by river. It is therefore a wistful irony that our present condition is named after a mechanism that once ensured the reliability of travel in the great outdoors.

• Steven Poole’s A Word for Every Day of the Year is published by Quercus.”

Those three strands combined to make me reflect on the harshness of our prison systems.

I can wander at will around my house allowing me to change my position and which walls I am looking at. There is plenty of space for me to have books and craft materials to occupy me. I can have devices connected to the internet and stay in touch with family and friends whenever I like. I have my pets for company and comfort.

prison cell
a cell in Swansea jail

Nor do I have to put up with company I do not want, For me, sharing my space with someone can be tricky even when I love them dearly! To share with a stranger would be a nightmare.

Any time I fancy a cup of tea I can make one. I can decide what meals I want to eat and when and make them exactly to my taste.

When I look through the windows I see green and trees and flowers. If I want to go outside I can and I can choose to sit, to exercise or to go for a walk. No-one tells me that I must come back in. I can garden which is creative but there is also lots of evidence that having our hands in the soil is beneficial to our health.

swansea prison
Swansea Prison on a main road in a built up area.

I know that I am not alone in finding that even so it is hard to remain cheerful all the time. I dread to think how I would cope if incarcerated in prison. I suspect I would either become mentally ill or run amok! No wonder that so many prisoners are ill, either physically or mentally; that attacks on, and injuries to, prison staff are so frequent. Taking away all those choices also creates institutionalised individuals who will find it hard to cope when released which could be a factor in recidivism. Of course criminality must be punished and society has to be protected but I am beginning to realise that the way we currently go about achieving those ends may not be humane let alone the best. I have no idea what would be a better solution – I just have a clearer understanding of the problem. I will be interested to hear your views.

14 thoughts on “Protective Custody

  1. tialys May 19, 2020 / 11:51 am

    I think you should definitely behave yourself and stay out of jail.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Going Batty in Wales May 20, 2020 / 10:21 am

      You are probably right!


  2. Laurie Graves May 19, 2020 / 1:13 pm

    Yes. Our New York City daughter lives in Brooklyn in a 600 square foot apartment with no terrace or balcony. Fortunately, she’s an introvert, which makes it easier for her. But still! I know she’d like to be here with us where she could go out on the patio and watch the fluttering birds. I wish she were here with us, too. As for me…despite the joy of spring and gardening, I have been feeling mopey as well. I think it’s because summer is the time when we have family and friends over to enjoy our patio with us. We all have a glass of something nice. Clif makes grilled bread. This year, it will just be the two of us. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Going Batty in Wales May 20, 2020 / 10:22 am

      I miss meeting up with frieand sand family the most too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Going Batty in Wales May 21, 2020 / 10:26 am

        I hope you feel more cheerful soon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Laurie Graves May 21, 2020 / 1:49 pm

        I do feel more cheerful. But every once in awhile I am struck by the loss.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The Snail of Happiness May 20, 2020 / 2:14 pm

    The problem with prison is it’s all about punishment and keeping the guilty away from the public and nothing about rehabilitation and treatment. I think referring to prison in the context of the separation we are currently experiencing is not really appropriate – I don’t feel imprisoned, I feel constrained. But whilst I am constrained I also feel nurtured, because I have lots of friends concerned about my well-being, I feel part of a caring community and I am conscious of all sorts of positives coming out of the situation, Fed up? Yes? Punished? No.


    • Going Batty in Wales May 21, 2020 / 10:25 am

      I don’t feel inmprisoned either but the remarks of others and my observation made me think more about the prison system. I agree that the lack of rehabilitation and treatment are critical.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Helen May 25, 2020 / 7:23 pm

        I too have thought more about prisoners since being constrained in the current coronavirus induced circumstances. I am fortunate in that I haven’t had to quarantine, which one of my friends did. Imagine having to stay in one room with no one to talk to for two weeks (except by phone or shouting through a door) and hoping your estranged husband would bring you some food and drink. To put it bluntly, my friend did not feel nurtured and did feel imprisoned.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Going Batty in Wales May 26, 2020 / 11:20 am

        Your friend sounds to be in a really horrible situation. I hope she is OK.


      • Helen May 26, 2020 / 11:42 am

        She was in quarantine right at the start of lockdown and thankfully her situation is now much improved. Thank you for your kind thoughts!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. tidalscribe May 27, 2020 / 11:08 pm

    How true. Even brief stays in hospital can feel like prison. So I can’t imagine what real prison would be like. To be in a tiny flay would be a prison. I started life in a flat – actually the roomy top half of a house – we started married life in a flat. I am hoping to avoid ever being without a garden again!


    • Going Batty in Wales May 28, 2020 / 9:43 am

      I too started married life in a flat and would hate to live there now. I may sometimes moan about the amount of work this garden involves but it has kept me sane during lockdown and I would hate to be without it even in normal times.

      Liked by 1 person

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