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From Courtroom to Prison

When you are sentenced you will be taken straight out of the back of the courtroom, from the dock, down to the cells. You will not be able to see any friends or family and you will need to have taken with you into the dock anything you want to take to prison.

When you are first taken underneath the court, you will have all possessions taken off you and logged. You will not see these again for a while, possibly quite a few days.

If they offer you food, take it, as you won’t know when the next is coming.

Once your possessions have been taken you will then be taken into a cell within this area to wait for transfer – this could be on your own or in with others. The timing of this transfer will be unspecified and you will get no indication of how things are going. At some point, your lawyer will (probably) be allowed to talk to you in a holding room, provided they have been patient enough to wait at court. Then you can discuss anything such as appeal, what the sentence might mean, and pass any messages. You will probably also meet someone from the probation service who will mostly be checking your mental state.

You will then wait for a transfer. Probably for most of the day. If they offer you food, take it, as you won’t know when the next is coming.

You will then be taken into a small van with locked cells in to transfer to your first prison. If you phone the court the day beforehand they will probably be able to tell you what prison this will be, as they tend to use one “holding” prison at a given time (although this is not always the case).

When you get to the prison you could wait on the van within the gates for a while as they process others. It depends how busy the prison is.

When you are let in you will be moved from the holding room to hold room and in between, you will be called to various places so that:

  • Officers can take details from you (several times)
  • You can be stripped and searched and given your prison clothes
  • You can be given your bundle of blankets and plastic cup, plate, etc.
  • You can be seen by the prison doctor
  • You can be allocated a cell and asked any questions about particular issues you may have in the prison

You will then hang around some more until they can allocate you a cell which you will be taken to. Do not expect this allocation, in terms of your cellmate, to be thought through. Consider yourself lucky if it is.

…you may be moved to a new cell several times, and your cellmate may change.

Considering by now it is probably pretty late, your cellmate may not speak a word of English, and there has been no time for any “induction” or anything, you will now be locked in a cell with absolutely no idea how anything works. And you will (rightly) feel like you are now expected to just get on with it, as the next time your cell door is opened, none of the guards will really even realize that you are new. So you will have to work out if that door is being opened for “exercise” (a walk in the yard), to use the showers, get your food, etc. Obviously, if your cellmate speaks English that will help a lot, otherwise you have to follow everyone else and hope to figure it out.

One last thing to remember, once you have settled and figured it out, is that you may be moved to a new cell several times, and your cellmate may change. This is always an apprehensive time as it’s almost like starting over again, so it is best to be ready for it.