I was mowing my garden grass the other day when it reminded me of an incident that occurred when I worked for Her Majesty’s Prison Service.

As a senior manager – I was Head of Offender Management a somewhat overblown title I know – I happened one morning to find a prisoner who was on his way to his place of employment in the workshops walking bare foot on the grass.

As you can imagine it was both unusual and unsurprisingly against prison policy so as is the custom in such cases I challenged him and his actions.

This is where the story got interesting.

His story – later confirmed – was that as a ‘lifer’ convicted and sentenced for a murder he had spent the previous five years at the start of his sentence in a Cat A prison that had no access to a grassed area.

Before his sentence he had worked on the land so even though he knew he was breaking the rules had decided that this being the first day in my prison he just wanted to walk on the grass.

My decision which some may disagree with especially the “rules are rules lock them up and throw away the key brigade” was to give him five minutes.

He was happy, it wasn’t a problem and the following has resulted.



Walking barefoot

On the new mown grass

Feeling of the soil

Beneath your feet

A memory from

The distant past

Toes clenching unclenching

Feeling the dampness

Of the recent rain

Mind relaxing from the pain

Of a feeling unexplained

One of peace

Walking barefoot

Just once more

Freedom regained