Christmas Jail – Please release me..

Benjamin Alexander

Rows and rows of heavily barred windows rose up beyond an inner fence of thick steel mesh crowned with razor wire. Across the exercise yard a tall metal pillar was topped with several fully functioning, high resolution, all-weather, surveillance cameras. It was Christmas Eve, 2002.

The sounds of shit dance music and shouted requests for a loan of tobacco filled the dark early evening. Somewhere off to my left, from another House Block, wafted the last few words of a Christmas Carol; shouted at first, then screamed until the singer came away from his small window and someone else summoned up the breath for a chorus of “Please release me….”

Entering the large House Block where my office was located, I clanged the large metal gate shut as quietly as I could, then heaved and locked in place the heavy wooden inner door. The smell of prison hooch filled the…

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