A former prisoner says he has turned his life around and is planning to go on Hajj.

Mohammed Saeed, 27, spoke to us about his time in prison, how he is readjusting in society since his release and his trajectory towards a new life.

Mohammed was convicted of firearms and drugs offences in 2016. Since completion of his sentence a month ago, Mohammed has already secured employment and is optimistic about carving a positive future for himself.

He told us how life in Wandsworth prison was at times destructive yet also helped reform him.

He said: “When I first went in, it destroyed my world. 

“People were fighting and the prison emergency alarms were going off.

“Within five minutes of arriving, I had made a call to my mum. One of the senior officers immediately pulled me aside and told me to remove the emotional look on my face, otherwise it will be construed as a sign of weakness by the other prisoners.”

Mohammed admits he became embroiled in aggressive fights after a few days which resulted in him being sent to a segregation unit.

“Each day passed painfully slowly. The only conversations I had were minimal ones with staff or nurses or through the walls with the other inhabitants of the unit.”

He languished there for a total of 42 days which adversely impacted his mental health.

“I was on my own the whole time, apart from an hour a day where I was allowed to exercise, weather permitting. That entailed walking around in circles in the yard.

“I was only allowed a shower if I was ‘well-behaved.’

“When I had a sandwich given to me, it was done so with five officers together wearing riot gear.

“By the end of the 42 days of isolation, I told the staff that I didn’t want to come out as I would not be able to adjust in the normal wing. 

“I had to be sent to the prison hospital unit for two weeks where they gave me behavioural therapy.”

When Mohammed returned to his designated wing, he began attending Islamic classes which he recognises as being essential to his transition.

“The Imam was from the same area as me in Pakistan, so he took a liking to me. 

“He taught me a lot. I went on to get a job as the Muslim representative in prison. This included speaking to new Muslim prisoners and giving them Qurans and prayer mats.”

Asian Image:

Although Mohammed had found a vocation and focus, he said the environment in prison is such that one simply cannot escape violence.

After several disciplinary concerns, Mohammed was moved to Berwyn Prison in Wales.

“Despite my apprehension, that was the best thing that could have happened to me.

“This place is a brand-new prison, it is clean. 

“I even had a shower in my cell.

“They treated me like a human being in there.”

It was there that Mohammed said he met a fellow prisoner who changed his perspective on life.

“I found another Muslim prisoner who taught me a lot about spirituality and how to deal with problems.

“I give thanks to Allah for sending this man to me. He has changed my whole outlook.

“I know it is expected that being in prison will reform the prisoner. But I firmly believe you have to have the drive within yourself to rehabilitated.”

Readjusting to life outside of prison has been “overwhelming” for Mohammed.

“I used to wake up in the night in fits of sweats but since I’ve been released that has gradually come to a stop.

“My past can’t affect me. I have a focus now.

“I want to do my Hajj and I also want to get married.

“My intention is also to work in a capacity where I can help children before drug dealers get to them. I have experienced the damage it causes first-hand. 

“I know I wronged a lot of people before I went in and I am sincerely sorry for that.

“I can’t change my past, but I can give myself a solid foundation for my future.

“I have made my peace with Allah and now I want to right the wrongs that I did.”