After a couple of meetings with an education committee that works within the prison system it was suggested that I speak to a group of prisoners in what is known as the toughest prison in the Country. Certain stipulations were made.
- No video or recordings made at the event can be uploaded or distributed' to anyone or to anything'.
- A written transcript of the 'seminar' can be used.
- No identifying by name of any prisoner or member of staff.
I was told that the talk would be advertised on all of the wings in the main prison. This meant that no Rule 43, sectioned inmates would be able to attend which effectively meant there would be no inmates there who had committed any sexual crimes. As one officer said, 'Only clean crimes, like robbery, drug importation and dealing, burglary, grievous bodily harm, arson, fraud, manslaughter and murder!'
I was told the size of group who sign up for these talks is normally 30 inmates. I said I didn't mind how many. When I arrived I was told there were 296! It was 7pm and we went in.
The sports hall had been set out with rows of chairs in a semi circle. 300 men sat staring at us as we walked in. Most of them had shaved heads. Many had tattoos. Some had obviously spent a lot of time body building. Many had a ghostly white pallor. Some looked like they hadn't eating in months. 300 prisoners with sentences ranging from 4 years to 25 years with a couple of exceptions. Some only there for a short while before being transferred to an open prison as they pose no threat. Some there for the entire length of their sentence. I was told afterwards that three of them, the exceptions, were serving a minimum 45 years each. If they all decided to riot there was nothing we could do. There was me, Michael and six prison officers, one of whom locked the door behind us.
HPT is a program I designed to help instill a belief system in people that anything is achievable. By making people more responsible, more aware and to take a self-determinative approach to life. I had been using elements of it in all of my work, from sales training to firewalking but now I run courses on the entire HPT program which focuses on Transformation and Regeneration. Here was an opportunity to make a serious difference. A radical change. Change that would be life changing, mind changing and future changing.
There were two very large white wipe boards, one either side of a chair on the stage. I put my filofax down on the small table to the left of the chair, stood in front of the chair, looking at the crowd and waited.
After 20 seconds or so I said 'Good evening everyone. My name is David Moore. Thanks for coming this evening. This will be like no other talk you have attended.'
To be continued..........