Mail from Jail: Imprisoned for graffiti

This is a letter from a young man in Wellingborough Prison to the exhibition Intimate Bureaucracies, earlier this year:

‘I’m currently serving a 26 month sentence for painting graffiti on walls adjacent to train tracks. You can only appreciate the specious nature of the British justive system once you’ve been at the sharp end…How many people are on indeterminate sentences for relatively minor crimes, how many people are on remand (essentially guilty until proven otherwise) for non-violent crimes, and how the whole prison system is awash with class A drugs. Only this morning I looked down from the landing outside my cell to see someone sat on the pool table sprinkling brown powder into their cigarette.

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My experience of criminality previous to jail was limited to smoking cannabis as a teenager and climbing fences to paint graffiti. I now know how to rob securicor vans, convert firearms and cut cocaine…luckily for society (and myself!) I’m not easily led!
I can’t think of a situation where postal correspondence is more important, especially in maintaining my relationship with the girl I love. Visits are so forced, you sit in this horrible room opposite one another and then turn on the conversation tap until the screw cuts it short – with letters you have time to think, time to express yourself – it’s the most genuine interaction jail affords.
I’ve received hundreds, possibly a thousand letters in the last 8 months – from people I haven’t seen for 10 years, even people I’ve never met before. I’ve received a letter every week from my dad whereas outside we struggle to speak more than once a year. I’ve received holographic postcards from Peru and mysterious blank postcards bearing a New York postal mark. I’ve received letters that have made me anxious for a month and ones that have made me happy for the last 8…
Anyway if you’d like to write to me, I’d be very happy…My address is: Samuel M A7185AV, HMP Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, NN8 2NH…


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