Banged-up bosses experience reality of life behind bars
A TEAM of East Yorkshire bosses this week left their liberty behind and stepped into HMP Hull to see what prison life is really like.
But before they could be released from their cells, they had to raise enough bail to secure an escape.
After touring the cells and walking the wings, the part-time "prisoners" set to work ringing all the names in their contact books in a bid to drum up cash.
The event formed part of the Smile Foundation's Boss Behind Bars fundraiser.
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Charity manager Andy Barber said: "As well as raising money, Boss Behind Bars gives people the chance to see what prison life is really like.
"They soon realise it's not all PlayStations and pool tables and get an understanding of how the prison works with the community, so it benefits businesses as well as the prison."
As the bosses walked through the dimly lit buildings and sat in the sparse, tiny cells – where prisoners can spend up to 18 hours a day, with nothing but a fellow inmate, a toilet and a sink to keep them company – the reality of prison became almost too much to bear.
But it also offered an insight into how HMP Hull working with the business community and voluntary groups to prepare prisoners for life after their release.
This could be through partnership working that provides employment for prisoners, thus giving them vital life skills for when they leave the prison gates, to helping inmates gain important qualifications they didn't achieve while at school.
Ned Kelly, community and business development manager at HMP Hull, said: "Many people's perception is based on programmes like Prisoner Cell Block H or what they read in the papers.
"Good news stories, such as how prisons work with their communities to make a positive impact, are very difficult to get in the headlines.
"Our aim is to help prisoners lead a law-abiding life on their release and staff work hard to ensure this happens.
"At the end of the day, we spend more time with offenders than our own families.
"People often think prison is easy, or a place for punishment when, in fact, punishment has already been administered by the courts that removed the prisoners' liberty.
"What benefits would simply locking someone up for years and then releasing them do for the local community?
"It wouldn't achieve anything and those prisoners would likely just reoffend, starting the process over again."