Researcher: Overall, were there anything positive about the Hydebank YOC when you were a prisoner there, for example, were there any rehabilitation programs or to attempt to foster family contact?
Jim: No, there was nothing like that. Family contact was restricted to one visit per month (with extra allowed based on what they viewed as good behaviour.) We were allowed one letter per week which was of course censored. As to rehabilitation programs, none existed.
Researcher: From my research the regime in Hydebank has changed to a certain extent with not the same level of overt brutality.
Jim: I know nothing of the regime in Hydebank now but it would not take much to improve the regime I experienced as it was Hellish. Everything seemed geared towards intimidating you, humiliating you and brutalising you on a daily basis from unlock to lock up. Many prisoners self-harmed, others of a less streetwise background loves were unbearable. It was not uncommon to hear kids as young as 16 crying at night whether after 'special treatment' by the screws or just a feeling of hopelessness.
I can honestly say that it was the most brutal experience of my life and it was made clear by the regime that any kind of complaints to non-prison service agencies would be met with an extreme beating. We hear a lot of the brutality visited upon prisoners in the likes of Long Kesh, which rightly should be condemned but Hydebank as I mentioned earlier was the dumping ground for screws who handed out extreme violence to political prisoners in other jails. Many were clearly sadists who enjoyed the cruelty they visited on young prisoners. It was like giving absolute power to a group of people with no qualifications with the majority revelling in the fact that they were sectarian bigots.
I can honestly say that my experiences in their have stayed with me and played a large part in ruining my life. I've never been able to hold down a relationship or a job of any length. I have used drink and drugs to block out the resentment I feel towards my treatment at the hands of the screws. I just hope that someday, this brutality will be exposed. It may not come in my lifetime, given what has come to be my daily lifestyle. I just hope no other kids still have to go through that experience of daily terror and brutality