Skip to content


November 13, 2014

This week, I have had the privilege of interviewing Stan Fletcher, author of Inside Looking Out.

Stan Fletcher is the nom de plume of a writer whose first book gives an honest account of his time spent at Her Majesty’s pleasure. Her Majesty may have derived some degree of pleasure from his incarceration but, as you might expect, there was little joy in the experience for Stan. Unlike his virtual namesake who did his ‘Porridge’ in the highly popular TV comedy series, Stan tells a grittier, true story; one which reflects the fears and frustrations of an intelligent man held in an anachronistic and inadequate prison system. His experiences portray a system which is underfunded and which is, some might conclude, run for the benefit of the prison authorities, not to reform the prisoners in any way.

Those of you who have read my own first novel A Wistful Eye – The Tragedy of a Titanic Shipwright – will have seen the anti-hero of that true story managing to retain both his sanity and his humanity, mainly by having access to the written word. It saddens and angers me, therefore, to learn that prisoners’ access to reading materials – many of which are freely and generously donated for their use – is being restricted and in many cases denied altogether. As someone who was trained by the Home Office and the Samaritans as a Suicide Awareness trainer, I have learned that two major factors which lead people to depression, despair and suicide are isolation and an inability to communicate with others.

From the days of prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, and right up until the 1940s, our prisons enforced the ‘silent and separate’ system. This was partly punitive and partly to discourage conspiracy, rioting and inter-prisoner violence. It was realised however that this was a major cause of depression and suicide amongst the prisoner population and therefore it caused greater problems than it sought to solve. Forward-thinking 20th century prison authorities realised the importance of education, self improvement and communication as tools in prisoner reform and prison harmony. Now, even as more and more non-English speakers enter our prison system, we are witnessing a major retrograde step in education and communication. This can only lead to greater isolation and increased problems for both prison and prisoner.

Here, Stan speaks about his book:

Q         What prompted you to write your book?

A         Firstly I was astounded by the whole experience and after 2 months and normally being a mentally active person I needed to do something to occupy my mind. As time went by I became more and more concerned over the ways the judicial and prison systems treated individuals and I thought it was an experience worth sharing. The adage about innocent until proven guilty is certainly not the case in the UK (eg. Cliff Richard).

Q         Who do you believe is your ‘target audience’?

A         Primarily those people working in the Justice arena and those facing a prison sentence, or their friends and family, but it can be of general interest to anyone as one of its main focuses is relationships.

Q         Did the prison authorities offer you any encouragement, writing classes, writing materials, use of IT facilities etc., with this project?

A         Lol no. Our education was cut from one day per week to 3 hours per week.

Q         Did you find it therapeutic to record your prison experiences?

A         Yes, it was something I needed to do to keep myself sane.

Q         Are all the characters and situations real or are some invented or exaggerated?

A         All are real but names have been changed to protect the individual.

Q         Clearly your book is unique to you, but was this a one-off or do you feel that perhaps you have another book inside you?

A         One never knows about these things. There is one but let’s see if I ever put pen to paper again.

Q         How do you feel about the proposal to limit prisoners’ access to library books?

A         We only got to visit the library once every blue moon. It’s a crazy situation and nothing is done to reduce offending. OK, reading the Beano is unlikely to be able to do that, but for someone who cannot read it is the first step to literacy. Most people in prison were there because of drug habits and most had minimal education and no usable skills and no job. Somewhere the cycle needs to be broken. Prison is an ideal opportunity.


From → Uncategorized

  1. I had the great honour of working with Stan on the editing of this book and it really is a ‘must read’. His openness and honesty about his own situation and those of others really is compelling, as are his highly intelligent insights into all the problems that exist in the UK’s just system … and there’s his wonderful sense of humour too!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. INSIDE LOOKING OUT | djkellyauthor

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: