About 26 women and 4 men came to listen to Steve Maslivec talking about “Life on the Inside” and what a brilliant and informative afternoon it was.
He talked about how long it took to become a volunteer member of the Independent Monitoring Board appointed by the Secretary of State before he could visit Forest Bank Prison, Salford, where he listens and monitors to any complaints on abuse, drugs, bullying, violence from the prisoners and any complaints from the Prison Officers too.
The IMB must report annually to the Secretary of State on how well the prison has met the standards and requirements placed on it and what impact these have on those in its custody. The IMB also have the right to have access to every prisoner and every part of the prison also the prison’s records.
Some of the Complaints they deal with are about health, not receiving the right treatment, personal property, violence done to them and their families. Small things are important to the prisoners.
Forest Bank was built in 2000 and houses about 1,600 inmates. There are 300 staff and 10-15 IMB members on the board. 4,000 meals are made a day for all inmates. Prison Officers eat the same food.
There about 85,000 people in prison and the average yearly cost of a prisoner is about £38,000 average. The average sentence is 15 months.
He gave us some facts such as 60 per cent of prisoners have mental problems such as self-harming. More men over the age of 60 are sex offenders. About 4,000 women are in prison, the main reason is theft e.g. shop lifting and about 6,000 young people between 18-20. Many of the prisoners have drug problems. In 2013 43 prisoners are in for life sentence (i.e. serving a ‘whole life tariff’).
The IMB monitor all situations and can be called in at any time. They remain impartial and they can also help Prison Officers too.
Steve gave us examples of situations that he had been involved and could have spoken all afternoon on his volunteer work at Forest Bank.
Thank you, Steve, for a very interesting talk about “Life on the Inside “and hope you will come again.
A Poem written by one of the inmates.
Three months ago, I came to jail
And due to gambling my life did fail
I did nasty things in my hours of greed
And hurt many people of all colours and creed
My life was a mess I just wanted to shout
I was hitting rock bottom couldn’t find a way out.
I was away from my children and my wife too
There had to be something I had to find a way through
I didn’t believe but I went to the Church
I had find something to get me out of the lurch
I won’t tell you lies I felt nothing that day
But people didn’t judge me or turn me away
This weeks went by and I carried on going
And I was believing in God without even knowing.
I felt something new start to enter my life
It was taking away my trouble and strife
It was the work of the Lord and now I know
My life’s getting better and I have a certain glow
He’s made my life easier and I’m not going back
Even if things go wrong and my world seems black
Because I know God will help and show me the way
And I’ll follow his path and join him in heaven one day.