The Privilege of Holding the Keys
I probably haven’t mentioned that I finally have my own keys to prison. That means that I can go basically everywhere with the exception of prisoners` cells.
It gives me a lot of responsibility and some freedom while I am there.
Before I had obtained the privilege of holding the keys, I had to meet several requirements. After few levels of vetting by the British Ministry of Justice, the most important (from my perspective) was security training.
To start working in a prison you have to start thinking in a totally different way. There is no space for mistakes because some of them may cost you many problems (life included).
In short, most of your movements around prison are about keys. How to use each one, how to hide them (experienced prisoners can remember exactly the shape just from looking at it), how to carry them in a safe way (never ever hold them in your hand if you are not in a process of opening the door).
Other important thing is what you can and cannot take into the prison. You should have minimum of stuff obviously. Before you take anything with you, you should consider how likely someone can make a weapon out of it. Very likely because some of the prisoners are extremely skilled and inventive in these terms.
Good example of a weapon is a tape. Sometimes tape would be very useful during our workshops, unfortunately we cannot have it with us, it’s too dangerous.
You also shouldn’t take a bubble gum, umbrella, scissors, vinegar (?!?:) etc. etc. and obviously anything that is electronic. I once had digital thermometer (my daughter had fever) that was detected during scanning at the gate and the gate officers were not exactly happy about it.
During your work in prison you are not supposed to disclose any sensitive information about you. Preferably any information about you at all. Potentially the offenders can find and blackmail you, they usually have many friends outside.
Do not even think about taking anything in or out of the prison for one of the offenders. It might be a signal to escape, it could be drugs (very common way of smuggling drugs now are the cloth labels soaked with drugs).
To work in prison you have to be relaxed and very focused at the same time. It is worth it, from my perspective, because you gain understanding of a parallel space in our world and have a chance to help some lonely souls at the same time.