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ONE blogs — Polmont Young Offenders: VIEWS FROM THE PEN 2

'Family' by Jule_Berlin/Flickr

 Family Visits
by Alexander Morrissey

I am just back from visits. My son and partner were up today and it was good. I had been looking forward to it for two weeks.

We were talking about what changes both of us have made since becoming parents. My partner seems to have made loads of changes but when she asked me what I have changed, I couldn’t think of anything. Then I thought about it and realised that I have in fact: stopped taking drugs, started attending courses to manage my anger and I have really improved my attitude.

I said to my partner that although I have changed these things there is still a long way to go. I said that I realise there are always things that go the wrong way in life and things don’t happen as you would like. I believe that you have to be strong and face these situations head on, rather than jumping over them or just pushing them to the side. If you tackle the issues you can overcome them.

This is all we talked about through the visit. My son was smiling and having him on my lap brought a tear to my eye. I was so happy yet so sad at the same time as I knew I had to leave them.


ONE blogs — Polmont Young Offenders: ViEWS FROM THE PEN

 And So We Begin

By Bash Wallace

 Today was a gainful day. I left my cell and walked the enclosed pathway to my creative writing class. This pathway, referred to as the route, is six feet wide however us, the prisoners, are restricted to two feet of this, making out walk more like a march. In single file and all sporting short back and sides we resemble soldiers and I suppose in a way, we are. Street Soldiers. read more —>

ONE 10 • Polmont YOI Writers

ONE 10 prison states of mind contributions from Polmont Young Offender’s Institution Writers


ONE 8 • ‘She’s My Dream Come True’: Polmont YOI Short Story Winner

She’s My Dream Come True

As part of ONE Magazine’s prison writing programme we hosted a creative writing competition throughout the young offenders institution. Entires came in from throughout the gaol, in all genres, and this piece of fictionalised autobiography emerged the winner. PJ Thompson’s delicate piece demonstrates that not all teenage men are the brutes that society likes to imagine, nor are all young offenders the one-track thugs that tabloids like to sell.

– Martin Belk, Writer-in-Residence, Her Majesty’s Young Offender’s Institution, Polmont.


ONE 7 • Me On the Outside

1. Confusion

As a 6 year old kid growing up in Glasgow, in Scotland, I was moved from one area to another, getting passed around my family like some piece of used clothing. My father was not around. I quickly learned to hide my emotions, pretend to be someone else, put on a front: be strong, act and look happy. Being strong means that I had to stay quiet, but stick up for myself at the same time. My grandparents always told me that if I didn’t stick up for myself, I wouldn’t get anywhere in life, and when I was fighting: “If you don’t batter him, I’ll batter you.” But then again, people say a lot of things; my mother, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends of the family knew I had too much anger in me. They always said that my eyes were pure evil, that one day I’d end up in prison. I was 6 years old when they said it. While it wasn’t said directly to me, it was in front of me as if I wasn’t even there — or couldn’t understand. I could, however, because since then I’ve always presumed I’d end up in prison, on the run, or dead.


ONE 7 • Life’s Lessons

Life can be heaven
Or life can be hell
It depends where you’re borne
It depends where you dwell

ONE 7 • Giving Back

the realities of what can happen inside…
Before prison I was a cheeky, arrogant little bastard who didn’t care about anyone other than myself. Add the consumption of alcohol and I turned into a complete animal. It’s not the question of who I was, it’s what I was.

ONE 7 • Give

What is it to give? The dictionary states that the meaning of the word ‘give’ is: “to grant something to somebody or to allow somebody to have something — such as power or right.”
When I think back, only one thing sticks out that was given to me. When I was younger, I was too much for some to handle and because of that a lot of people gave up on me.

ONE 7 • My Wee Sister

My Wee Sister

ONE 7 • Wullie

I am twenty-two years old and standing in a cold, bland church, looking at one of my best friends, lying in a dark, oak box. The sanctuary is pale with death. I think of my old days. There was drink, drugs, women, girls, some good banter and of course, plenty of battles. Life was a war. A war among young kids in adult looking bodies. I spent most of my time just getting high and scouting for girls — not looking for fights. Fighting found me.

ONE 3 • Prisons, Cemeteries and Concentration Camps: them & us

Last spring, I began to teach creative writing at Polmont Young Offenders Institution, a prison for young men in Scotland. Society would like to believe prisons are liminal: prisoners go in, spend some time, are rehabilitated, come out reformed.

At the end of my first visit, when I walked out, I left the front door open. My escort-guard smiled and said, “Hey Martin, close the door, it is a prison, remember?”