Is Prison The Answer?
Is prison the answer? is a question that has been asked much more over the past decade in relation to gay people who fall foul of the law, and whether it serves any useful purpose. Many views have been expressed by a variety of people, but rarely have they got deep down to the root of the problem. The main reason for this is, I believe, because they have been speaking as outsiders — although they have not been against gays. In fact in some cases they have been themselves active gays.
The fundamental reason they have not been able to answer this problem satisfactorily is that they have not experienced at first hand the rigours of prison life.
On the other hand, I have been a guest at one of Her Majesty’s more exclusive colleges, and, therefore, feel capable of trying to answer the question I have posed.
Firstly, however, let me put the record straight by stating that I was given my sentence for buggery and indecent assault with a 14-year-old boy, who I must say was completely willing to all that took place, and this was taken into account by the judge when he passed the minimum sentence permitted at the time.
His words were that he was sending me to prison where I would receive help so that when I was released I should be able to take my place in society without being a danger to other young boys.
I did not relish the thought of spending the next 15 months in prison, but made up my mind to make the best of it.
Before my trial I had spent 11 weeks on remand most of which was spent in the prison hospital wing, a procedure which all gays sent down go through.
While in the hospital wing, I was interviewed by the senior doctor, but not by anyone else, and his was the only medical evidence submitted by the prosecution to the court, although a full medical report had been called for.
My interview with him had consisted of giving all the details I could recall of the illnesses I had suffered since birth, what I had done at school, what lessons I had liked best what I had done since leaving school, and that was that.
The only medical examination I received was on my first reception at the prison. For this I was told to strip to the waist and wait in line. When my turn came I was taken in and told to stand in the line and give my answers to the doctor who was seated behind a desk.
The examination then preceeded as follows: Doctor: “Lower your trousers”.
This I did.
Doctor: “Are you fit?”
Doctor: “Right, wait outside.”
At no time did he ever attempt to give me a proper medical check. I could have been suffering from the most dangerous disease for all anyone was bothered.
After this I was taken to court for further remand each week for the next five weeks, and on returning to the prison was weekly seen by the doctor, who asked just one question: “Are you fit?” And, on receiving my reply of “Yes”, sent me back to my wing.
This, then, was my experience of prison up to time of my trial, so I was quite prepared, in view of the judge’s words in passing sentence, to be subjected to a much more rigorous medical even to the extent of being seen by a head-shrinker.
However, I soon realised that this was not to be so, as on my first day I was seen by the governor who allocated me a job (mailbags, of course), was photographed for the prison records, given a haircut and allocated to my cell.
This was not, as one might have expected, a single cell to keep me from having a sexual relationship with a cell-mate, but a three-bed cell where I soon became aware that the two boys were gays, and it was not long before we were all sleeping in each other’s beds, something the night screws (prison officers) were aware of and turned a blind eye on, even though they had every chance to see what we were doing through the inspection spy hole or by the continual creaking of the iron beds, which in itself was enough to keep them awake all night.
Among the prisoners were a number of YP’s awaiting Borstal allocation, and these young chicks were generally employed as helpers for the cleaners.
I had not been in residence many days before I became aware that all the cleaners were gay, as were also the bathhouse attendants, and these cleaners, having completed their duties, would retire with at least two of these young boys. One of these boys would stand casually smoking snout while the other was on the bed having sex.
It was not long before any doubts I might have had as to these boys being seduced were dispelled. They were, in fact, willing participants — and even, in some cases, the seducers in these daily occurences — and this was carried out, I feel, with the full knowledge and even consent of the officers whose responsibility it should have been to see that such acts did not occur.
It could therefore, be assumed that they were either:
- Negligent in their duty;
- Felt it was better to leave the thing alone and let the inmates have what sex they could;
- Were gays themselves.
In my experience, I would say that the third reason was in the majority of cases the truest, and it should not be surprising seeing that in a way they were just as much prisoners as the inmates, and seeing all the men and boys all day long every day.
You may be under the misapprehension that these were isolated incidents, but let me hasten to dispel these thoughts from your minds.
Whenever a cleaner was transferred to another prison or was released, he was immediately replaced by another gay who carried on the tradition. This became even more apparent when a new wing was opened at the college I was attending, for I myself was given the post of number one cleaner, a position which carried a red band (trusty) and was given a list of names of those classified by the authorities as suitable for the cleaners, and as I knew most of them I could not fail to notice they were all gays. So I just picked the youngest group I could, together with eight YP’s to assist them. For this I was taken to their dormitory to select them and I just picked upon the best looking.
It was not long before I and my colleagues had got on friendly terms with these boys and were taking them to our cells to make love to them and I found that most of them were extremely experienced and always very keen to please and be pleased. Often during the day we used to have baths and showers as our wing contained its own bath-house and the boys would often join us and stand with us under the showers.
This was done with the full knowledge of the officers who would tip us off whenever the government was paying a visit, or if a group of visitors was to be shown round, but otherwise they just didn’t seem to care.
At the time I write of, it was against prison regulations for only two persons to share a cell, but since the change in the law many prisons have complete landings designated as married quarters where gays live together, just as they do outside.
Readers will, by now, have realised that far from reforming a person, prison only assists to take him further into the gay world.
That is something which I feel none of us would want to see changed. The only change now needed is in the law relating to consent. After all, it is antiquated to say that a girl is old enough to consent to sex at the age of 16. Or that a boy and girl can get married with their parents’ consent at 16, or without it at the age of 18.
Surely it is time that the politicians of the Land of Hope and Glory came to realise that a boy of sixteen is just as capable of falling in love with another boy or man as he is with a member of the opposite sex. So what is the reason for making him a criminal until he is 21?
Although the law has in part been changed, gays are still being sent to prison for pederasty, importuning, or committing an act in public. But, whether you believe it or not, one overriding fact emerges. Once a person has a prison record it stays with him for the rest of his life, and he will find it difficult to obtain a decent job or, if he does, to keep it, for the fuzz will always inform on him whenever they get a chance. So for that reason I shall have to remain anonymous except to my close circle of friends, who will be able to recognise me from what I have written.
Love to you all and keep fighting for our rights.
Some of the photographs used in this feature are stills from Fortune And Men’s Eyes, released in Great Britain by MGM-EMI. All the others show the realities of prison life.