Tom Thumb and his journey through the prison system, prison officer brutality and bullying
“I apologize in advance if when reading my story through the prison system seems disjoineted.It is the first time I have written about my experiences in the prison system Still to this day it was a living nightmare for me which still haunts my life.”
For those who haven’t read the first part of my story, it can be found here @ http://tomthumb.info/tt/index.php/my-story/
After being sentenced to 4 years for defending my life, I was sent for allocation to the nearest prison. As soon as I got there I had to collect all my things at reception and being only small in height struggled with the weight of the kit bag. Whilst being escorted to my cell I caught the prison officers foot as I was entering my cell with my overweight kit bag,he informed me if I did it again he would beat the living daylights out of me. He locked me inside my cell with in a short time of arriving I was all of a sudden moved for no reason to another landing,and then I was transferred to another jail for further allocation three days later.
Because I was a juvenile offender then I had chance to apply for a “Secure Unit”,instead of Y. C which is prison for young boys. I was up for allocation to be placed with violent offenders and serious sex offenders including a lad who had stabbed a 15 year old girl, and then raped her. Due to the vicious nature of the attack she nearly died from her injuries. The person responsible for extremely violent attack was sent to a Secure Unit. Offenders who are sent to a Secure Unit are released back into the community at a weekend, Most juvenile sex offenders get sent to Secure Units. I was refused a Secure Unit place for reason unkown.So now I had the prospect of serving all my sentence in a prison which is full of bullying and violence from inmate on inmate,to officer on inmate, all of which is over-looked and allowed to continue..I was sent to my prison of allocation,which was not long term.
Whilst there I gained the nickname “Elvis” because I was the only inmate with that type of haircut. All from the 2000 inmates to all the officers called me “Elvis” for the duration of my stay. I was also one of the smallest prisoners in height,which is exploited by bullies. I became the laughing stock of my wing of about 400 boys because of the length of my sentence which was longer than someone who had committed manslaughter,and also the fact that no prisoner of that day ever got paroled on detained sentences. Only those who went to “Secure Units” who in the most was sex offenders was more or less guaranteed release after maybe only serving only half their sentence.
I was a long termer and was allocated a job, and as most will know that there is a black market in all jails. Tobacco is major currency which allows for bullies to thrive,and on my wing there was many “Backy Barons.” These charged extortionate rates to more vulnerable prisoners, I had a cell mate who got into a lot of debt with the barons,he slashed his wrists to avoid the bullying and violence of the barons, Because I was his cell mate I got abuse after he was transferred to another prison from the people responsible for making slash his wrists.
By now I had started to settle as best as I could. Then after a while certain prison officers became hostile towards me. I was starting to get stupid reports made about me, and then I was put on Governors report for being out of place of work,which got me 14 days in special wing,This is how I spent my 18th birthday..Many thought me being down the special wing on my birthday was a something they should mock and laugh about, where as the lads in the block sang me happy birthday, it was the first of many sad nights. After the 14 days in special wing I returned to the main block.
The officer who had placed false charges on me was stood waiting and smiling at me when he saw me.Then one night whilst on association I went to the toilet, and the next thing the door flew open and it was this huge prison officer stood over me. He grabbed me by my hair and started to punch me in the face. Pulling me from the toilet which was located central in the block he dragged me out onto the landing, in front of all the inmates,and most of the officers. He just started laughing as he was a huge man in height and I was so small. Most of the inmates feared him because he was known for his bullying and violence towards inmates.
So in essence I was the prisoner serving the longest sentence of 4 years detained on my wing of about 400 boys,and also I had the biggest sentence out of all 2000 boys. At the time I was sentenced I was only 16 making one of the youngest also.
With being one of the longest serving prisoners in that jail I shared cells with a new inmate called Ned. He was serving 5 years detained and was only 15 at the time. The bullies on the wing labeled Ned a “Nonce”(A label for sex offenders),although I knew Ned was ok,and in truth everybody knew Ned was not a “Nonce” because his co-accused was on the next wing. Bullies and abusers will use any excuse to target anyone whether it be true or false .
Over time I became good friends with Ned on accounts of us both serving the longest sentences. He was applying for a transfer to a long term which meant more privelages.By now I was placed on another Governors report from a prison officer who targeted me previously., I complained when I got seven days block and put in for a transfer to a long term prison shortly after as it was my right. A member of the B.O.V came to see me,and I told him of prison officer bullying and brutality. He just ripped my complaints form up which was supposed to go to the home office,and said I should complain when I was back on my wing.
When I got back to the wing I found out Ned had got his transfer,but not to a long term,but his transfer was nearer for visits from family and friends. I applied to see the P.O (Principal officer) of our wing,he deals with minor reports on the wing. Facing the P.O in the main wing office,I told him of my request for transfer to a long term prison, and also of the prison officer bullying and brutality.He informed me it was my fault,and I should get on with my sentence. He refused my human rights to ask for a transfer.
By now Ned had been left several months when a new boy arrived from the prison Ned was serving his sentence. His name was Bill, he was Neds best mate, and they rioted over long term transfer, so Bill was transferred to the jail I was in, and Ned got his wish of long term.Bill was serving 5 years detained and aged 15 just like Ned was. He was a large in height,and was wild with violence. He talked to me first and asked “Are you Elvis?” I said yes, then he introduced himself,and told me what had happened,and he knew Ned had already had a hard time by bullies in this jail.
Me and Bill also became good friends,and associates, We became barons with tobacco with several others on the wing. We also set up our own court to sentence sex offenders, Bill was usually the judge and between us we served poetic justice to those that abused children and stole their innocence away from them.
The following months soon passed until the Governor brought a law in which affected every inmate in the jail. It stated that no inmate could stick photos of their families and loved ones outside the photo board which everybody had in their cells. This upset everybody and the atmosphere became balanced very un-weightily on a knife edge. Me and Bill saw it as an even bigger infringement of our rights because we should have been in long term which was our right.So we called a meeting, and we decided that we would riot over the new laws.We planned it for that night, and whilst waiting for my door to open for association which was the time for the riot to begin,I thought of the injuries which we would get from the riots,and the possibility of being killed.
All of a sudden the door flew open and it was the riot squad They entered my cell, I thought I was going to be attacked. They informed me I was going to the special wing, and escorted me there .I remember it was a hot summers night,and the air in the special wing was really hot and humid, my cell door shut,and no inmate is allowed to speak. All was silent for several hours after I arrived there .It was nearly dark and about 11.00 clock at night when I heard a shout “Is that you Elvis?” Immediately I knew it was my friend Bill. No sooner after he shouted the prison officer on duty shouted for Bill to shut up or get charged. I replied to Bill that I did not know he had been put in special wing, he then told me that someone had informed officers of our planned riot. I said “So what now?” he shouted across the landing “Fuck them” we will smear excrement up the walls, start to destroy our cells,and ban on doors to create uproar .
We was expecting riot squad to come in and beat us.From the noise we made we woke the others in the special wing. Bill informed them what had happened as they did not know of the new laws regarding inmates photos,they joined us in the same protest or “Blanket Campaign” we had started.
So the riot had now begun,it was early hours and this huge noise of banging screaming breached the silent laws of the special wing, It was that loud it started to wake up the other inmates on the wings,we shouted through the cracks of the door to all the other inmates on the wings. Before long everyone joined us and were shouting and banging their doors also.,The prison was now in full riot.
Lincs Radio F.M heard about the chaos that had unfolded and released a statement that the prison was now in riot and this I was why local residents and nearby villages can hear all the noise. They get some 2 and half million listeners.
Several days later the right was still ongoing. All the prison officers were on extra duty,and the special wing was shut down through our smear campaign we had started,My riot gear contained a pair of pajamas,and a make shift head scarf to stop excrement falling on my head. Immediately me and Bill got a new tag which was a protection order. This protected other inmates from Bill and myself.,Eventually we were sectioned which also came with a B.O.V report. Normally most inmates would fear this because an inmate can lose 3 month remission from receiving one of these. ,It is the last internal court before an outside court if an offence warrants.
The morning came and we were due to go up before the Governor, the riot squad were also on call due to the actions we had taken.My door opened just outside was lined with officers, I walked through the lines shouting all the time to the others,I entered the Governors office with prison officers everywhere around me.,On entering and when asked an inmate is supposed to give their name and number to answer charges the have been accused of. Instead I told him to “Get fucked!” He asked the reason for us rioting and so I mentioned the new laws with photos for inmates,as one of the causes,then my own right to be in a long term institute.He charged me with inciting to riot,and smearing excrement on walls.
Heading back to my excrement smeared cell in the special wing in the jail, I was grabbed me from the back of my hair. It was by an officer that was renound for his bullying and violent attacks on inmates. I turned and punched him but before I had chance I was jumped by several officer who placed me in the restrain position or as they call it “The Hold.” Many inmates get killed,or are left with broken bones through the “The Hold”
Held by arms being twisted and pulled, I started to scream as everybody does who gets restrained, The prison officer who originally grabbed me still had my hair,and pulling my head downwards to restrict my movement began to kick me in the face. I was dragged like this all the way to the strip cells,I was also smashed into the cold stone floor face first. As you can probably guess my nose immediately splattered. I was placed spread Eagled on the floor of the strip cell and then stripped naked. The officer who had kicked me started pulling my head up and smashing my face into the cell floor. They warned me not to move or to get up,which is impossible anyway for anybody who has found themselves in this position. After being beaten then they ran from the room. I was left naked, bruised and battered.
Inmates die in the strip cell from exposure and the beating the receive. There are no beds, only the cold concrete floor,and in those days it was chamber pots,rather than toilets.. The light is on constantly 24 hours a day,and by law any inmate who is in the strip cell has to have at least one blanket, I was denied this.
When I regained myself,and managed to stand up with my swelling wrists and knees,and blood all over the cell,I immediately heard all my friends in special wing start shouting,they knew I had been targeted because I was the smallest out of the rioters in height. Immediately they all started shouting to the other wings,which were about a hundred yards apart. There were at least 400 inmates,banging in unison with us in the special wing,and me in the strip cell. The noise was intense,and by the end of the night all of the wings were banging their doors, some 2000 boys altogether. was The noise we made echoed for miles outside the prison.
The radio station Lincs F.M never released what the riots was about.The next day,the door to my strip cell opened and the worse prison officer known for brutality towards inmates in the prison walked into my cell. He threw some clothes at me and slapped me across the face, and also telling me to get ready for governors report for assault on an officer. This officer was a “Bully” and violent criminal against all inmates,he was known for attacking inmates but nothing was ever done about what he did.
I now faced another charge of assault on top of my other charges, including inciting to riot, after I went before the B.O.V once again, I was marched back to my strip cell by the riot squad was told to strip naked . once again the door shut with me locked inside. Immediately after I began shouting through the crack of the strip cell door. Because the strip cell is a specially built and they are built with a cell inside a cell with several doors, sound echoes. I managed to get a message to my friend and fellow rioter Bill of what happened. He immediately started banging on doors and shouting that Elvis was still in the strip cell. The doors of the wings were used once again to create noise and uproar ,All knew of the atrocities that were taking place in the special wing. They all knew I was in the strip cell over inmates human rights abuse.
Three day of been in the strip cells the cold had began to set in,and laying curled up naked and freezing I heard Bill call me to the door and he said we have all agreed to clean up and stop the riot. so I could get out of the strip cell .I encouraged him to carry on with the riots.
Bill told the officers against my will that they would clean up and this in turn would stop the riots on the wings and disturbing the whole area for miles with the noise,so in effect the prison officers were getting their jail back, as we controlled things from the special wing,shortly after this the Governor had phoned the home office to get me and Bill emergency transfer.
The next day I was released on these conditions from the strip cell. All my comrades and friends were still cleaning the excrement from their cells,as they saw me walking naked and cold across the floor,back to my own cell. All was glad to see me alive,even some of the officers knew what had happened to me in the strip cells but no word was mentioned.
Bill and myself were waiting for our B.O.V and like I said previously because we stopped our protest the protests on the wings over atrocities stopped.Now we had to face the consequences of our actions. I was first for sentence,the security was heavy with riot squad and extra patrols which were brought incase our impending human rights abuse caused the riots to start again,I was sentenced to 28 cell confinement for the smear campaign,and another order for inciting to riot,and also assault on officer carried me 28 days in cell confinement,I was told by the Governor that we was now on transfer as soon as the home office sorted transport.
After this prison officers did not try and enforce the silence laws in the special wing through fear of the riots starting again., Bill was my good friend who saved my life from the strip cells. The officers allowed myself and Bill be the orderlies in the block/Special wing. I think mainly to try and keep us both happy. Through doing this together,we became even closer friends. The officers gave Bill the name “Wild Bill”
It was a long summer of riots and now the prison was calm,we use to keep in contact through one of our friends from the wings whilst we stayed in special wing waiting transfer. He said that since we had left the wing, things had calmed down,and most of the boys was asking how me and Bill was doing.
We was waiting for nearly 2 month before finally our transport day arrived,. We were only told the night before,me and Bill spent our last night as comrades and friends together. The officers let me and bill stay on the landing whilst our friends and fellow comrades in special wing were in their cells.
I remember all those years ago as we stood talking on that last night,I said to Bill,pointing towards the wings,”I understand if what we sacrificed will ever be remembered? our blood and suffering for their rights to have their family photos!” Because we must remember that anybody can end up in prison especially with the policies of the judicial system which is “Attack the innocent to protect the guilty”.But that hot summer of riots had it risks,and took its toll on all of us,that was the last time I spoke to Bill, The next morning riot squad was present at mine and Bills handcuffing ready for transfer.
As I said it had been some months in the segregation unit whilst waiting for this transfer day to come., but now we was getting transferred .,Both me and Bill were hoping it would be a long term prison for us two. Prior to our handcuffing I heard the riot squad preparing to get the shackles ready which are different from handcuffs .My door opened and I was escorted to the shackles desk,where Bill was already getting shackled to two officers,I said to Bill to stay in touch even though we did not know where we was going to end up.
I was also shackled to two officers then a third in front marching us out to a taxi which was in the court yard, This could be seen by two wings of inmates,I was pushed into the Taxi,and as I was small and the officers huge they squashed me in the middle. A lot of the boys on the wings knew who we was so some started shouting us because they knew we was being transferred. Some of the boys were also whistling and banging their jugs through the bars Although I had never met most them,all had heard of “Elvis” and what he and his friends suffered so much for,which was for them, and their rights. They had theirs rights back to keep their family photos,which is all most inmates have in any prison. That was the last time I seen Bill even to this day, I will always think of him as a friend,even many years later I still don’t have any photos of my family in my house.
After traveling for some time I eventually I arrived at my next jail .As soon as I entered the jail reception knew that this wasn’t long term I informed the reception officers that I was not staying in their jail, and if I could I would destroy their jail. Immediately. Thee riot squad came and I was marched onto a new wing,in a new jail. It was a lot bigger than the last jail which ended in a campaign of summer riots over human rights abuse of prisoners.
I was placed in my cell by riot squad on my allocated wing,.On this wing there was about 150 boys,and the jail contained at least 12 wings containing about the same amount of inmates .Whilst sat in my cell,I prepared myself for what may prove to be more deadly bullying and violence to come from the riot squad over human rights issues.
I started to prepare for the night ahead.When all of a sudden my cell door came open,it was the Governor with riot squad.He asked me why I was threatening to cause riots,I told him of my plight, and he asked if I would give him time to contact the home office. I knew he was telling lies,and he was hoping I would settle into his man made death trap called jail.As soon as he closed the door I stripped and put my pajama bottoms on and tore my bed sheet ready for the night and the impending war.
I had several hours until the early hours came,I picked this time as to get most noted .I used the prior hours talking to other inmates on my wing through the bars and windows. I had informed some of the boys of my impending riot that night,some just laughed,and some claimed I was mad,So as the early hours crept closer, most across the jail was asleep. Although I knew my own noise would not wake the whole prison up, but the wing I was on would be enough to start the chain of unfolding chaos over human rights abuse.
I was now nearly ready and all was quiet on my wing and across all the other wings,which was some 3000 inmates across the whole of the jail. All were asleep,apart from me.By now I was in my riot gear,and the cell door was barricaded. I smeared all excrement on my cell walls,and also on myself to try and protect myself from riot squad. I screamed as loud as I could and shouted “COME ON BASTARDS!” This echoed right across the wing and woke all the inmates on my wing, I was screamed on the top of my voice and smashed my cell windows in those early hours in the morning,some of the other inmates cheered,but some complained about all the noise. The noise from the wing began growing bigger and cheers were enough to spread across to the other wings and wake them all up., As they started to shout across the wings to each other,everyone wanted to know who caused the disturbance at such a time,as within 10 minutes,all 3000 prisoners across the prison was now cheering and banging doors, the riot was impending.
The riot squad came to my cell,I was still shouting and screaming and all the boys on the wing was cheering. My protest lasted several hours,which could have cost me my life .Eventually I came out shouting down the wing I was escorted to special wing,or segregation unit,or punishment wing early in the morning. I was placed in an empty cell,and told to sleep until the next day. I knew that night would be talked about amongst the inmates next day.
The morning came,and my door swung open,it was special wing staff with the governer.He asked why I started the riot,I mentioned my plight,and he said he would contact home office,and I should give them time to get me transferred,but in the meantime I am placing you on a protection order segregating you from other prisoners for their safety. I was sentenced to 28 days special wing for the smear protest.This special unit was different from the last jail which we destroyed in riots and cost thousand to increase security across the jail,this one. This was a bigger special wing with more cells and more inmates.
I was now in special wing,and that night I broke the Cardinal law of most special wings in any prison and that is the silence laws. The breaking of this law carries a loss of 14 days,but I did not care because I had no remission to lose. In all the prisons I served and nearly died over human rights and I wasn’t going to stop, The age of the inmates in this new wing varied from 16-21 years old,with all inmates under juvenile law of up to 17 with a detained sentence. Only juvenile sex offenders got detained sentences and were sent to secure units then let out back into the communities at a weekend. Most only did a third of their sentence for their crimes,where as juvenile offenders with detained sentence were in Y.C,,which is a prison for boys,and young men,The Y.C was also well exploited with bullying and violence against younger boys,from older boys and also officer on inmate.
Tom Thumbs views and opinions on prison reform
After being transferred from the second jail,I was transferred to another jail with several stops at jails in between,all with the same security.Even the prisons I passed through on allocation was fraught with the same problem,which is bullying and violence.,In one of the jails which I was in,I lost all my privileges for no reason,maybe because they had read my reports of my inciting to riot in other jails. Rather than looking at the causes,which was the reason for rioting , the details were brushed under a carpet of injustice and prison officer brutality and corruption.
Eventually I arrived at what turned into my last prison. it was not long term either. A year through special wings under inhumane barbaric conditions does take its toll on anybody.On entering my last jail I met my personal officer,all inmates usually have them,or the officers.The first thing he said to me when I met him was “I have read your reports David,and you should not be in here,I am going to fight for your release”,He was a good officer and only did his job. He was not an abuser.like many officials I had met before him.
I served all the sentence with sometimes reminding officers that even in that jail that I would still protest if need be over human rights,by encouraging other inmates to protest by smear campaigns and barricading.
Sometimes when I think of those who rioted with me,and think of what they lost themselves over human rights,then it is only right and befitting that I believe prison reform has been long overdue. Especially regarding prison officer bullying and violence which in the main is supported by a corrupt prison complaints system. The same can be said of inmate on inmate Bullying and violence.
In the twelve jails I served all of the prisons was the same.,Bullying and violence is in all prisons in all its guises. We must remember that people can end up in prison for lots of different reasons,some even when they are innocent.many inmates are exposed to the sometimes deadly bullying and violent attacks that take place in all jails. They can and do cost many a lost life.And this is why I believe in prison reform,Yours Tom Thumb.
I know from my own experiences that in all 12 prisons I served my sentence,”Bullying/Violence” was everyday life,Inmate on inmate bullying and violence,and also officer on inmate bullying and violence was always covered up with corruption and brushed under the carpet.
In today’s day and age we must remember that more and more innocent people are being sent to prison,all under the political polices of “Attack the innocent to protect the guilty”,and this is why human rights,and civil liberties of all inmates should be upheld.
I would like to thank Shai Dune for persuading me to finally write my story and speak of what happened on my journey through the prison system,and prison officer brutality and bullying. Thank you Shai!
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