Bullying in prisons

Jane L. Ireland describes the causes and consequences of bullying behind bars, and how it can be tackled.
When I first came in I gave out tobacco and Rizlas to people who asked me. I found I was short at the end of the week. This last week I refused and my life has been made hell. I’ve been continually harassed for my canteen day and night, usually by the hardcore people I shared the dormitory with; if not them they have been getting other people to ask me on their behalf and when I refuse abuse me verbally and lie about me. When in the dormitory I made the mistake of saying I was gay and have been ostracised by the very couple who have been sleeping together in bed. I have come off my medication to get out of here – not sleeping much, around three hours per night. I just want to be left alone to serve my time and leave prison never to return. I cannot relate well to people and need medication; going through hell yet I have tried very hard to fit in and appear normal. I don’t want to cause trouble but it’s very difficult not to retaliate verbally and I feel like I’m near to cracking up. (Adult female prisoner: Ireland, in press)

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