Thursday, 28 January 2016

Legal Highs and the Prison Trade

As part of the project 'The Homeless Library' we are gathering accounts of people's lives, what led them into homelessness, or out of it and their day-to-day existence on the street. Today I heard about the devastation caused by legal highs from two men at The Booth Centre

"People coming out of prison should be a priority for somewhere to live, but when I went to the town hall they say you’re no priority. A friend of mine came out, they said you’re not a priority-he ended breaking the windows in there, just to be arrested, he wanted somewhere to sleep not be on the streets.

Detail of poem for The Homeless Library, The Booth Centre.

"Most people come out have no place to go, the law is on the opposite side, a couple of weeks and they are back in, homelessness aggravates it - nobody wants to stay on the street, a little thing and they’re locked up again. I think they should be given more priority, or they’ll be causing more crime.

"Was in the Maze, Strangeways. They promise you the moon, let you out of prison with nowhere to go and I didn’t get a discharge grant.

"Many people don’t know where their heads are. If I had somewhere now that would be a start, get off the streets and it’s easier to deal with other problems.

"Most people, so confused in prison - smoking that 'Spice', ‘cotton’ themselves, hurting themselves. Spice, it’s a chemical, legal high, it's so addictive people go back, everyone’s taking it in prison. You get strung along to easy, and sometimes you just can’t say no. It’s worse then heroin, people are coming off heroin and going onto Spice. Even some of the screws bring it in. It cost £250 a quarter in prison, everyone fighting for survival in there. A coke bottle cap full of Spice will cost you £250. They can’t test you for it.’ Other names, Mambo, Spizzel, you can get the times 100, but everyone uses the times 1000, the most dangerous."

(His friend joins in the conversation)  

"I died twice in prison with Spice, my stomach kind of snapped, I asked for help to come off, but nothing. You only need two puffs and you're gone." (We talk some more) "I’ve been in prison 20 years, I’m 34, I just want a chance, I’m embarrassed to ask for help..."

For more information about Spice in prisons, visit: 

The Homeless Library project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

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