Michael is a young man from East London. Loves pie and mash. As a boy, he played football every weekend on Hackney Marshes, nearly getting signed for West Ham and Leyton Orient. All the usual stuff.
And, like too many other young people, Michael ended up having to fend for himself as a young teenager, homeless, hanging out with the wrong crowd, getting into trouble. He ended up being sent to prison for using someone else’s paperwork to get a job. It was a Category D open prison, so he could go home at weekends. He counted down the days until his release date, marking them off on his calendar, but, after 10 months, instead of being released he was moved to high security prison and held under different rules. This was quite a shock to Michael, to say the least. There’s no going home at weekends under these rules, and there is one other important difference: there is no release date, no time limit.
Michael should have been back in the community when he finished his sentence. He’d done his time. So why did he end up going from a short sentence to being imprisoned without time limit? One single factor: Michael wasn’t born in the UK. He arrived here when he was 4 years old
Every prisoner has a calendar on their wall, to mark down the days they have left. I couldn’t have a calendar because I didn’t have a time limit. I didn’t know when I’d be going home
Michael is a member of Freed Voices, a group of experts-by-experience committed to speaking out about the realities of immigration detention in the UK and calling for reform. Between them, they have lost over 20 years to detention in this country. Read more about their work here.