Chris Huhne started his stretch in Wandsworth jail, south London .
Without doubt “Wanno”, as it is known, has the worst reputation of any jail in the UK. Prisoners know it as a “screws’ nick” where the regime is dictated by staff, not management.
He will have travelled there by “sweat box”, with about 12 other prisoners, locked in the vehicle’s cramped cells. It will not have been a peaceful journey: his fellow travellers will have been aware of his presence and raised a cacophony of noise, banging on their doors, calling out to him by name and warning him of the terrors that await him in the slammer. The warnings will be empty – the only part of Huhne that will be hurt will, no doubt, be his pride.
On arrival, he will have been escorted into the prison’s reception area, given a uniform and processed. All new arrivals are allowed a phone call. He will have undergone a medical examination, asked if he is suicidal and if he has recently taken drugs.
He will share a cell on his first night and prison officers will perhaps try to find him a cellmate who is reasonably compatible – a white-collar criminal would fit the bill.
This morning, his day will have begun at 7.45am. The processing will continue. He will take a literacy test and prison rules will be explained. He will be asked to provide a list of phone numbers for when he receives his phone card – the only numbers he will be allowed to call. He should be able to visit the library.
Huhne will not dwell long in the local jail. He will be made a category D prisoner and taken to an open jail within weeks. Local jails are “warehouses”, receiving prisoners from court and, in theory, categorising them and sending them to prisons suited to their security rating. In practice, they are overcrowded, chaotic churns, where staff struggle simply to service the population, get them fed and exercised, and attend to their basic medical needs.
Huhne may land up at Ford open prison, West Sussex, regarded as five-star by the cognoscenti and the former home to many a celebrity prisoner. There he will find work and a much greater degree of freedom.
Vicky Pryce has gone to Holloway, north London, also by sweat box, and may have found her journey as noisy as Huhne’s. The reception process will be similar.
She, too, will end up in an open jail, probably East Sutton, Kent. The only other open prison for women is Askham Grange, near York, causing many women to be housed hundreds of miles from their families.
Pryce and Huhne will serve a quarter of their sentences in custody and then be released on home detention curfew (with an electronic tag fitted) for the second quarter.
What will prison have in store for Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce? – The Guardian
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