I visit Ben at Erlestoke as you know, and on the way to the gate last week did a little survey about waiting times for visitors. It is particularly bad at this prison. One lady got there at 1.30 to try and get in early, but still walked through the door of the visits room at 2.25. Visits are from 2 – 4 so she still had a shortened visit, which is unacceptable. Please see Ben’s blog about it. It is bad enough being treated like a second class citizen, without waiting out in the elements for a shortened visit.
I visited twice last week; once as a regular visitor and once to attend Ben’s sentence planning board. The contrast was huge. Arriving for the Board, I was escorted to a warm waiting room with comfy chairs and treated with respect. I used to work at Erlestoke years ago, in Education, and felt like I did when I was a member of staff. Two days later and I am in the glass tunnel, in the queue, waiting to be searched, feeling like someone on the fringe of society. The search is no big deal – it is like going through an airport – but there is a general feeling of being sullied, somehow. Is it me, or do other visitors feel like this? Guilty by association!
(Ben’s Blog Ed)