24 N. Obeng (Portraits from the Inside)
I’m serving 11 years for conspiracy to commit robbery and this is my third time in prison. Prison does stop you re-offending if you take advantage of what’s available and want to stop offending. But there’s a limit on how far prison can help. I don’t think prison can change a person. The underlying factor for me is the change of attitude within me.
Since coming to prison I’ve become a Christian and it’s given me a sense of direction. My faith has been my strength and anchor for a lot of the choices I make daily now. There are quite a lot of beneficial courses and I’ve really taken advantage of every opportunity that can help me stay out of prison.
When I was 18 I didn’t really take prison that seriously. I was doing a two-year business and finance course at college but was unable to complete because I got a six month sentence to serve three months at Feltham Young Offenders. Had I really learned from that or had certain things been in place I don’t think I would be here now. But at Feltham, nothing happens to you and when I came out and tried to get back on track I still had issues to deal with and I started to live off immoral earnings – the quick way out .
I went back to college to complete the business course and did an access course which enabled me to start a degree at university. But I was still doing things on the side that led me to prison for the second time and I received an eight year sentence.
It’s only during this sentence that I’ve come to realise that I’m a criminal and I’ve got serious issues. It’s just like somebody on drugs - unless I deal with this matter it’s gonna mess me about and that’s the position I’m in now.