The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment

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The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment

The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment

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£9.495 FREE Shipping

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The sports centre is focused on team sports, especially football. There are a few bits of training equipment, but no weights, because Høidal doesn't approve of them: "I see the negative of focusing too much on muscles. It is a violent thing." In the winter, when the compound was covered in snow, one of the inmates went outside and stamped around for a while. Looking out from the staff canteen later, guards noticed he'd written Help Me with his footprints. A UK prisoner might set fire to his cell; even these appeals for attention are done in the most non-aggressive manner. Another prisoner, living in the relative seclusion of Unit A, where he is a year into a sentence for sexual abuse of a minor, pays tribute to the humanity of the prison staff (as opposed to that of the fellow prisoners, who, when they found out what he was in prison for, announced they were going to dismember him). "The people who work here don't look down on you," he says. Compared with the 1850s Eidsberg prison, where he was before, Halden is a relief: "Being there and being here, it's like heaven and hell."

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Halden has an award for its interior design. At times, the environment feels more Scandinavian boutique hotel than class A prison.He has children aged 10 and 12. "I think about them 24/7. I speak to them three times a week for 30 minutes, but there is so much to say, so much I need to be doing for them. I think I'm never going to commit another crime. Freedom means so much to me." The civility between staff and inmates is noticeable everywhere. Information for new inmates is translated into English for those who do not speak Norwegian. The text is apologetic about the possibility that they may have to wait before they are transferred to a cell, and concludes: "We hope you have understanding for any waiting and hope to help you as soon as possible. With best regards, the reception officers." There is some annoyance from staff at the focus on the buildings, rather than on the principle of rehabilitation that drives the prison. "One politician when it opened said, 'I could live here for a year, no problem.' But he was in the cell for two minutes," says Janne Offerdal, who teaches English to the inmates (mainly to foreign nationals caught smuggling drugs into the country; the Norwegian prisoners all speak impeccable English). "They compare the facilities with the elderly prisons. But if you are building a new building now, you wouldn't build an old one."

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Høidal is bemused by the popular fascination with the prisoners' flatscreen TVs, pointing out that it's now impossible to buy the older models. "I don't call the cells luxurious. It's 10 square metres, a toilet, a shower, that's all." Maybe I'm not there long enough to sense latent anger or profound despair, but Halden doesn't feel like a place where you have to look over your shoulder. An official in the healthcare division says up to 40% of inmates will be taking sleeping pills, and between 10% and 20% are on anti-depressants, but overall the atmosphere is calm.Gentleman boldly chronicles the devastating reality of a scandal that illegalised, imbruted and abandoned British citizens.’ No one is thrilled to arrive here. The reception officer explains that the most positive reaction is one of relief. When they are brought in, "some of them are crying," he says. "They don't know what they're going to do with their dog. There are aggressive people who are high on drugs, or withdrawing from drugs, which is not always easy to deal with. It's only the older guys who've been in other prisons who are happy to be in Halden." Given the constraints of needing to keep 245 high-risk people incarcerated, creating an environment that was as unprisonlike as possible was a priority for Høidal and the prison's architects. "The architecture is not like other prisons," Høidal says. "We felt it shouldn't look like a prison. We wanted to create normality. If you can't see the wall, this could be anything, anywhere. The life behind the walls should be as much like life outside the walls as possible."



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