Library of Birmingham hosts replica cell and prisoners

Go to jail … but leave when you like.

Visitors to The Library of Birmingham are about to get a taste of prison life.

Developed by Rideout, Go To Jail (1st-12th March 2016) is a replica cell built to government regulations, housing two prisoners.

Those visiting can either observe the prisoners through the window, or enter the cell to chat with them – asking questions about their lives, their sentences, and how prison affects them. Although the two ‘prisoners’ are performers, both are former inmates who have served in Her Majesty’s prisons.

Before leaving, visitors can additionally lodge their views on the prisoners’ sentences using a touch-screen console. They can also set what privileges they believe the prisoners should be entitled to in their cells; these could include such ‘comforts’ as a guitar, newspapers, or a television.

Home to two adults, the replica cell is 3.7m by 2.5m and contains a bunk bed, two chairs, a desk unit, sink, toilet and a mirror. In some the UK jails, prisoners can spend up to 23 hours a day confined in a similar space.

Rideout’s Saul Hewish, who co-developed the project said: “Unless you’ve actually served time at Her Majesty’s pleasure it’s hard to imagine what life is really like for those incarcerated in our over-crowded prisons. Go To Jail allows people to see the reality, and hear real stories from those who’ve served sentences.”

Go To Jail is open from Tuesday 1st to Saturday 12th March 2016 (closed Monday and Sunday) between 11am and 4pm at The Gallery (Floor 3), The Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2ND. Admission is free. No appointment necessary.

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