Within these walls
Houses of detention might have high sturdy built exterior walls,
others high fences or barbed wire to deter escapes. I mean, who
would want to get in, except to visit those held within?
We know where these places are so we might avoid walking past
because they unsettle us. We know what might happen inside. Are
we scared of the dangerous people within? Or of the house of
detention itself, and the system of incarcerations it represents?
The House of Detention Project
Are we scared of being picked up off the street, because we have had
previous ‘detentions’? Do we dress to pass as Normal, so we
don’t attract the attention of those who might want us back
In the small hours of the night does the ‘detention’ all come
drifting back to us?
When I was at school there were group detentions for mild
misdemeanours, where the whole class was held back from going
home. I wonder why so many people find a place in a house of
detention, after dealing with the DWP, the systematic
sanctioning and trying to get monies for food/housing/to pay
the bills. So much pain, so much money could be saved if the
System’s economics wasn’t set up against us.
It’s not that we are workshy, (or suffer from that class based
‘disease’ worklessness), the detention survivor stigma, of the
big gap on the cv, is just not acceptable to most employers. So we
are forced to work for ourselves.
Where is the Entrance? Do you think we enter that way? No we are
dragged in, sometimes kicking and screaming along ‘the
corridor’. Yes, The corridor is a scene of much action. When the
doors are unlocked, some do rush too fast to get out and must be
grappled to the floor. restrained by at least 2 others, drugged up
and removed from this scene. No one is expected to escape. For
the official ‘observers’ are watching out for any such chancers.
There are many corridors in a house of detention. LEt us explore
the intricacies of its design. The main corridor might run the
length of the building, or sub section of the building. With
lockable doors at this point. The surveillance place or ‘office’
might be central to the corridor. So the inmates might be
observed and watched as they go about their business. Wide open
aisles seen in Victorian asylums have been superseded by compact
wards. Dorms, single rooms, a kitchen, tv lounge and
office/drugging station all lead off the central corridor. All
accessible with permissions. The corridor is a place to follow the
daily routines to gather, the many line ups and to greet/say
goodbye to visitors.
Houses of detention are not private spaces. The institution owns
the spaces and acts like it owns the peoples kept detained within
the walls. Locked in these places the inmates are unfree.
Physically unable to leave with permissions. The key holders have
all the power in this unequal relationship.
And if you try to leave without permission, and take a chance
when the door is opened, you will be taken down and restrained.
Physically held to the ground, then drugged, and removed to a
place of ‘safety’, to a place of solitary confinement. For now
you are a risk, and need to be assessed/watched over/surveilled
to attain how much of a risk you are. A risk to yourself and to
the unsuspecting public. It is as if you were dangerous, rather
than just trying to leave a place of non safety. Locked into a
House of Detention.
No place like home. These institutions are not places anyone
would want to call home. But for all their shortcomings these
houses of detention are the ‘homes’ of the ’inmates’, however
short a time their stay is. surely the buildings should look like
some sort of home. And not be built to the institutional need of
risk prevention, Not for the risk of individuals harming
themselves, but of inmates escaping this place of detention.
The dormitory offers an opportunity for ‘inmates’ to share
experiences. It can be a place of safety or strife. Friendships can
be made or broken. Maybe it depends on the regime.
private companies take responsibility for the conditions and
whether abuses and neglect is tolerated.
The closed women’s prison Holloway (pictured) is in the process
of redevelopment. Will the site, Bought by a housing association,
be ‘regenerated’/gentrified the area and will the promise of a
women’s centre be honoured?
Why do so many ‘public institutions’ make way for upmarket
housing developments? Has there been a rush to divest in the
investment in houses in detention, to make money from the
sale of land in the short term or because the government
doesn’t want the responsibility of running the houses of
detention. If the houses of detention are privately run, the
The secure room
Sometimes ‘inmates’ are deemed to be dangerous, by the
observers and sent to a more secure ward. Sent, maybe drugged
up after a restraining event, to the pink padded Room. to the
The therapeutic community might still be in a locked in
environment. The henderson hospital (pictured) offered an
alternative long term Admissions for those deemed to have the
contentious diagnosis borderline personality disorder.
Institutional furniture lines the edges of The lounge. in a mh
institution the lounge offers a place where ‘inmates’ can talk
or watch tv. The large windows offer a view of the outside. A
normalised view of greenery/garden space. Not necessarily
available to be used as a garden. But a view nonetheless.
What does the corridor in a care home suggest to its users and
those who must decide which care home to install a family
member, if they have the choice.
the black mould/damp was noticed by the cqc, but were the voices
of the inmates heard before the building was abandoned having
been neglected. If that's how they treat their capital asset, how
were the staff and ‘inmates’ treated. There must be more to an
investment in care than to get profit out of the enterprise.
These abandoned care homes only show spaces neglected not the
abuses/neglect that happened within these walls.
Long-term incarcerations for those classed learning
disabled/Autistic, may start as short term ‘sectioning’ and be
prolonged. The use of private establishments may be a political
and an economic decision. But a private establishment is out to
make monies/profits for their investors, rather than being
concerned with the locked in individual. The horrific
abuses/neglect at Winterbourne View serve as a warning to those
who argue that the locked in environment can be safe.
from abuse, that keeps these horrific actions secret. Hidden and
locked away from sight.
We aren’t looking at what is happening until it’s too late,
because we are cut off/cut out. Did they have regular visitors?
Visitors who couldn’t be told because of the fear and
consequences. The CQC might be led astray because they don’t
have the experience/insight to see what is really happening.
Maybe they are led by the wrong kind of ‘experts’.
In such an institution it is not only the actions/abuses/neglect
from staff to locked in individuals, but witnessing the abuse
and the systematic neglect to protect all locked in individuals
Why are some people locked up and locked in? And others left to
roam free? Who decides? Sometimes the courts, but mostly by
those authorised by an Authority. Highly educated/well
established people who may have assessed the individual to be
locked up. But that doesn’t mean that the detention space is
appropriate for anyone to be locked up in. Or the detention
regime is appropriate for any of the ‘inmates’. The need to keep
Order in ‘society’, seems to be paramount. Rather than
considering why people are held inside.
People are held at detention/assessment centres who have
committed the act of being here ‘illegally’. Some people will
have refugee status. Others have ‘committed’ crimes of
paper-lessness, and will not know they are here illegally until
the ‘hostile environment’ of the home office roars its ugly head
and wants the individual out. Detained to be exported.Minor
‘economic’ criminal acts, such as not paying a tv license, can
lead to incarceration. Wasting money to incarcerate an
individual, as a warning to others to obey the law. In both cases
the incarcerations are meant to deter others as much as they ruin
the lives of the individuals detained. But why are the ‘inmates’
secondary to the System’s need to keep the wheels turning? So
the containment of peoples is as much about the people on the
other side of the walls. To keep the uncontained in order.