A Prison Diary - Volume 1: Belmarsh: Hell

Volume 1: Belmarsh: Hell

Belmarsh: Hell

1st edition
Author(s) Jeffrey Archer
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Autobiographical, prison
Publisher Macmillan
Published in English 2002
Media type Print
Pages 272
ISBN 1-4050-2094-6
Followed by Wayland: Purgatory

This book, written under the nom de plume FF 8282, documents Archer's introduction to the prison system. He was to spend the first 22 days and 14 hours in HMP Belmarsh, a double A-Category high-security prison in South London. Although Archer spent less than a month there, Belmarsh is described as a real hell-hole. Despite this, many of the inmates are extremely kind to him and regale him with anecdotes, which he duly records. One such prisoner apparently spoken of is the inspiration to one of his short stories from Cat O'Nine Tales, "It Can't Be October Already". On the other hand, some of the information Archer learns in his three weeks at Belmarsh is extremely disturbing, and he makes great play of imagining that the then Home Secretary, David Blunkett, ought to be reading it and asks for his attention. One theme is the fact that some inmates are thrown into cells for first time offences even though the cellmate is a hardened criminal or murderer and/or drug addict. Further, it seems there are more heroin addicts coming out of prison than going in. This is because of both random and compulsory checks in which the inmates have discovered cannabis does not leave the system any time soon, but heroin is flushed out of the body in 24 hours providing large quantities of water have been consumed. They want a drug and this is the one they can obtain. Other inmates he talked with include an experienced Listener, who had been sexually abused through much of his childhood, existing as a sex-slave, and only knew crime. The very people set up by the institutions to protect him like social workers and magistrates, judges and policemen, let him down, and also paid to abuse him.

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