Sunday, 1 May 2016

Brutal Reception at Hydebank YOC

'Jim' spent most of the 1980's in Hydebank Young Offenders Centre, just outside Belfast.  He is now in his mid-fifties, is a single man living in a Housing Association flat in North Belfast.  He suffers from Clinical Depression, was a recidivist offender in his youth, has had a long history of Alcoholism/Addiction and looks older than his age.  'Jim' has agreed to share his experiences at Hydebank.

Q: What were your first experiences on being admitted to Hydebank YOC?

Jim: As soon as I entered the reception of Hydebank I was punched in the mouth and told by a group of screws that this is what I'd get every day if I ever didn't behave myself.  I then was given a 'Hydebank haircut' that was carried out by a reception screw with electric shears. It was designed to degrade you as basically half of my head shaved bald and the other half left untouched.
The next v embarrassing thing that happened was that all new prisoners were brought to the 'hospital' which really was just a sick bay. There was a panel of screws, some were supposedly Medical Officers (MO's) which I've since learnt is a screw who has the same training as a Healthcare Assistant, other screws and a female nurse. They made me strip naked in front of them while a non-medical screw examined my genitals with a pen. There was no medical reasoning for this, it was simply another method of humiliation and a means to degrade prisoners.

After this prisoners were assigned wings depending on whether they had been detained there before.  There was a complete atmosphere of hostility and fear in the wings.  Before a prisoner could enter his designated cell, he was forced to "mark time" which entailed marching at an impossible rate with screws shouting verbal abuse and slapping you for what seemed like an eternity.  When this eventually ended, there was more threats regarding folding your bedding into what were called 'bed packs'.  More often than not the threats were followed up by a slap or a punch.  On my first time in Hydebank I was terrified and was convinced that the screws were quite capable of killing you and having seen the absolute control they had, it was clear that they would probably get off with it.

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