Cheltham prison was a medium security prison
There was a cold chill in the air as keys jangled in the distance. ‘Lights out!’ shouted a voice from the end of the corridor. ‘How did I end up in here?’ James thought to himself. As the cells descended into darkness. ‘I had a good education and I blew it all for a group of people.’
Cheltham prison was a medium security prison. It housed around seven hundred inmates. The offences committed by the inmates varied from traffic penalties to common burglary. James Henderson was one of many at the prison. ‘I could have had such a good life. Good job, nice car, big house and a family, but I don’t and its all my fault.’
When James was fifteen he had problems at home because of this he got in to a bad crowd. ‘I lost everything thanks to these people.’ James had become friends with typical young hooligans he started using drugs, going to pubs and just generally getting into trouble. ‘Wednesday nights were the worst; we couldn’t go to the pub. So we just hung around the streets.’
One man, Martin Walsh, controlled the group of about six. Martin was only sixteen but had already been in trouble with the police three times. It was on Wednesday night that Martin came up with the idea of going to the local park.
‘That’s when the real trouble started.’ We were bored with nothing to do so…’ a voice broke James’s thoughts.
‘Quieten down, this isn’t a place to socialise.’
‘…We broke all the play equipment.’
It had been Martins smart idea to vandalise everything. ‘We were all too scared of him to refuse, so we just did it. The playground was decimated by the time we had finished. Martin stood back to admire his work; I can still remember his words,’ ‘Well done everyone same time next week!’ Martin said proudly.
Martin wasn’t kidding. Within a month the group had destroyed four public play areas and three school playgrounds. Nobody had stood up to Martin. By this time the police had been involved, but still no one knew it was Martin.
‘I remember the exact day Martin got found out. We had met, like we always did, on a Wednesday night. Martin wasn’t himself; he was angry, violent.’
‘The police have been to see me.’ Martin growled ‘they know about the playgrounds. How do they know? Who told them? Come on own up’
No one did. Although Martin had an idea, a small boy name Chris was his target. Chris was a gifted boy, he didn’t agree with Martin’s ways but was a friend though fear. ‘Martin took it out on Chris. Punching, kicking. No one stood up to him. After that night we never saw Chris again.’
‘As time went on and our crimes got worse I started to see how I had wasted my life.’
James and the group, still lead by Martin, had started stealing. At first it was just sweets then CDs, clothes, CD players, TVs if it wasn’t bolted to the floor Martin would steal it. ‘ I could handle stealing small but TVs CD players that had gone to far. Stealing a CD player was when I first got caught.’
‘A local shop Tim’s TVs was my target on that particular day. It was a small family business easy to steal from, so I thought.’
‘It was a Saturday morning and the shop was rather busy, that surprised me, I had stolen many times before so I just walked in. I must have looked suspicious from the start, but they didn’t let on. I walked around for a while. When I got to the CD players, I checked to see if anyone was around, no one was, so I just put it in my coat. I was so calm as I reached for the door handle but just at that seconded a hand reached out and grabbed my arm, id been caught.’ The police were called and as it was James’s first offence he got away with a strong warning.
The next time the group met Martin was pleased. ‘James well done for your efforts and the way you handled the police. I have a task for you’ Martin beamed at James. James knew it was a bad idea but was too afraid to argue. The next night James met Martin. ‘You’ve proved yourself as a good friend James.’ Martin started walking down the street. ‘I had no idea what to do, so I just followed Martin. Bad choice.’
The next ten minutes were all a blur to James. ‘The next thing I knew I was sitting in a car, driving really fast. I started to shout at Martin to let me out.’
‘What’s gotten into you Henderson, you were all for it a minute ago.’ Martin screamed.
‘Just let me out!’ I screamed back.
Martin stopped the car and James got out.
‘You aren’t who I thought you were James, don’t let me see your face again.’ With that martin was gone. James was left to walk home.
‘It was cold and dark, I suddenly realised what had happened, id been involved in a grand theft auto. I was as horrific as Martin. I had wasted a good education to become a common criminal.’
It had been two years since James met Martin; it had been a roller coaster of vandalism and embezzlement. James had no future.
That wasn’t the end of Martin. The police had caught him. Martin had told the police about James’s involvement. The police paid James a visit the next day.
‘It was terrible; the look of disappointment on my parents faces. They had no idea. Both Martin and I were called into court on grand theft auto. The judge was harsh. To set an example he said, a jail sentence and community service.’
So James isn’t the only one in prison.
‘Martins in here too.’ A voice disrupts James thoughts.
‘James shifts over.’ The voice bellowed from the darkness.
‘No, Martins in here all right. On a jail sentence. The only difference is at least community service lets me go home at night,’
‘Thanks mate. I’ll see you tomorrow.’ With that James was gone.